plus local outdoor adventures

plus local outdoor adventures

Peaks and gorges If you’ve been to Enumclaw, it’s probably because you have a higher destination. Crystal Mountain Resort is only 40 miles up the road; Mount Rainier’s Sunrise area is just 13 more. But you don’t have to go that far for a peak. Just 1 mile south of town is Pinnacle Peak (also called Mount Peak, or Mount Pete, after the original Yugoslavian immigrant who donated the land). Past the King County Fairgrounds, the Cal Magnusson Trail takes you on a well kept but steep route straight up (1,000 feet in 1 mile), through fern filled forest and near the top striking prisms of columnar basalt jutting from the slope’s wall.

For a deeper hike, travel north of town along state Route 169, turning right at the Enumclaw Franklin Road, and you’ll reach the Green River Gorge. Plunging some 400 feet from the plateau, this ancient sandstone gorge is the last river cut rock canyon in Western Washington. Sheer vertical rock cliffs swathed in ferns, thick forest and a river that offers tempting but dangerous adventures, the gorge is tricky to access, but worth it. Park on either side of the Gorge Bridge and you can scramble down to an area well known (and sadly, well trashed) by locals looking for a place to party. A projecting rock offers a 15 foot cliff jump, with caves a little farther along the trail, while rafters can enter and exit at the state parks on either end: Flaming Geyser and Kanaskat Palmer.

Eat in a mercantile, drink in a mint For a town of 11,400, Enumclaw has a surprising number of places to eat and drink. Many folks know Charlie’s Diner as a prime spot for pre mountain breakfasts, and the reputation is well earned. Servings as eye bogglingly big as the menu, fast and friendly service and the wall of skylight windows open to the light all add to the vibe, but it’s the food that counts. Fluffy pancakes are slathered with thick strawberry sauce and whipped cream, omelettes are stuffed with fresh veggies and cheese; and meat options abound from sausages to steak to ham and eggs. Only the (drip) coffee is a let down. Bring your own if you care about that.

For lunch or dinner, you can eat in a former mercantile store with big city food and a upscale barn vibe. Kelly’s Mercantile does tapas, lunch and dinner, with dessert, espresso and sustainable/local beer and cheap jerseys wine thrown in. While the prices aren’t cheap ($14 mac and cheese), the food will make you never want to leave. That mac and cheese came in a wine based sauce with sharp English cheese and scrumptious crispy crumbs on top, while a housemade gnocchi was plated up beautifully with just out of the garden pesto and tomatoes tasting of summer. Salads are fresh, and the menu (by chefs Ky Loop and Tyler Garcia) has a variety of meat, seafood and veggie options. There’s live music most weekends.

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