Looking for a little something different and more budget-friendly for a family getaway in 2018? Come visit and explore a gateway to the Cascades with more trails than you could ever possibly think to hike, scenic backroads on which to discover some gorgeous scenery, and pristine lakes to fish, boat and camp nearby.
Welcome to Lewis County, halfway between Portland and Seattle — and a relaxing getaway from the bustle of the city that isn't too terribly far away.
Chances are you're still filling out your 2018 calendar, and we'd like to suggest some things to do for just about each season coming up this year. Why not try something new and come discover all we have to offer?
SEIZE THE SEASON ON SNOWSHOES OR SKIS
The Paradise area of Mount Rainier boasts a snowplay area, and there’s an abundance of snow in winter allowing you to trek all around and see the wonders of nature in winter. The White Pass Nordic Center is equally fantastic, and it’s open to snowshoers, cross-country skiers and all sorts of backcountry activity.
Vast swaths of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are open for winter recreation as well, and while it contains some of the most underrated snowshoeing acreage in the state, those who know the region and come back each year do so for a reason. The relative solitude and peace of both the forest and the lack of large crowds visiting the site make it the ideal winter getaway spot. Check out a list of Sno-Parks from which to begin your journey.
The months of January, February and March are prime snowshoeing season in the mountainous regions of Lewis County, so you have some time to start the year off right and discover the wonder of winter.
FIND FANTASTIC FALLS IN THE FOREST
Of course, all that snow has to go somewhere when the season changes from winter to spring, and our local rivers get replenished each year from the generous snowfalls of the colder months. But it’s what feeds those local rivers that is worth viewing, hiking to and taking in.
Waterfalls scattered throughout Lewis County are fantastic hiking destinations and viewing spots for the entire family. Some of the big tickets, so to speak, are Mount Rainier’s Narada Falls just below Paradise, the Gifford Pinchot’s Covel Creek Falls (one you can hike behind!), and Cathedral Falls in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, which boasts one of the most impressive heights of any waterfall around.
Give yourself a weekend and explore the waterfalls of Lewis County…you might be surprised to know there are more than you ever even knew about around here!
BRING A BIKE TO THE BACKROADS
The cycling scene in Lewis County is growing year by year, and two big events call Lewis County home each year. Whether you’re a road cyclist chewing up miles or want to take the family on the trails away from the traffic, you’ll want to check these out.
Cycling season kicks off in earnest with the Lewis County Historical Ride, generally held annually the day before Mother’s Day. For more than three decades, this ride has taken cyclists on scenic backroads that offer mountain views and windows to the history of our county and state. Rest stops include Washington state’s oldest church, one of its oldest schoolhouses, and an important stop along the Cowlitz Trail. Read here for more on the Historical Ride.
Back for its third year in June is Ride the Willapa, which last year welcomed more than 270 riders to the Willapa Hills Trail between Chehalis and Pe Ell. This ride showcases the work done on the trail and gives all participants an opportunity to explore the beauty of forest and farmland at their own pace. This year’s ride includes a campout at Rainbow Falls State Park along the Chehalis River, farm tours and more! Read more about this ride here.
Other rides that make their way through Lewis County include the annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, which uses Centralia as its midway point (and subsequently, many towns in our county become overnight stops for riders and teams); and Mary Bridge Children’s Courage, which last year originated its two longest routes from Centralia High School and passed through some seriously intense terrain in our county’s east side.
Not to mention, we have seemingly endless miles of roads and rural routes with scenery to enjoy from the seat of your bicycle whenever you wish!
LOUNGE AT A LOCAL LAKE
The summer will also offer numerous opportunities to get out on the open water as a reprieve from the sun’s heat. Mayfield Lake is fast becoming a very popular destination for recreational boaters, and with numerous parks and resorts along its shores — Ike Kinswa State Park and Mayfield Lake Resort & Marina come to mind, just to name a couple — you’ll also have a great place to stay the night so you can return to the water the next morning. Hint: the fishing is pretty good and not just in summer…
Riffe Lake has seen a bit of publicity lately due to voluntary dropping of its lake levels, but it’s still a prime recreation and fishing spot. Taidnapam Park near Randle offers the best access to Riffe, which is the biggest lake in Lewis County and offers some great fishing. Cowlitz Falls Park just down the way is a secluded spot off the main drag, home to several fishing spots on Lake Scanewa and very near a campground that the whole family will love.
Other lakes in the region include South Lewis County Park Pond, which is regularly stocked with trout by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. Mineral Lake in the community of Mineral is fantastic as well, and the nearby Mineral Lake Lodge gives a fantastic view of Mount Rainier in the distance as well.
FIND FANTASTIC FALL FOLIAGE WITH THE FAMILY
There’s no better time and place to take a trip down some beautiful country roads than right here in Lewis County. In fact, the autumn scenery was more vibrant than ever in recent memory last year, and we’re hoping it returns with its golden, yellow, amber and red tones that paint the landscapes of our mountains, rivers, prairies, lakes and forests.
We’d suggest checking out the Historic South County Road Trip and pairing your autumn views with some cool history lessons, such as visiting the Jackson House and learning more about our state’s heritage. Or head down State Route 508 past Onalaska and into Morton, discovering the beauty of the Shoestring Valley and enjoying the open road with no cell phone coverage to distract you from the scenery.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
There’s always something to do here in Lewis County regardless of the season. Check out the community festivals, Southwest Washington Fair, and so much more on our Events page.