Barclay Lake Revisited

Check out the original photo diary from my last visit right here!

Barclay Lake is a fantastic day hike located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. If you’re looking for a relatively short and family-friendly hike, this trail is a great option!

Pro tip: don’t forget your Northwest Forest Pass! For more information, visit fs.usda.gov.

The trailhead for Barclay Lake is located near the town of Baring at the end of a fairly rugged forest service road. This trail is super popular so make sure you arrive early to claim your spot at the trailhead parking lot. This 4.4 mile out-and-back trail departs directly from the trailhead, leading you gradually downhill through a thick forest. Eventually, you’ll begin to follow Barclay Creek, meandering your way through dense foliage.

Pro tip: If you visit on a clear day make sure to keep an eye out for some views of Mt. Baring along the way.

You’ll gain about 200 feet of elevation as you head to the lake, and after about a mile you’ll cross a bridge over Barclay Creek which is a great photo op! It won’t be long before you reach Barclay Lake itself, a picturesque Pacific Northwest lake framed by evergreens and jagged peaks.

Pro tip: be prepared for the lake’s water level to vary significantly depending on the time of year you visit. When I first visited in July 2020, the lake was fairly high, but this time around in August, it was significantly lower.

There are a number of campsites and opportunities to take a lakeside snack break as you meander around Barclay Lake. No matter where you stop for a rest or set up camp, you’ll be treated to some gorgeous views in a peaceful and serene setting.

Barclay Lake is one of my favorite hikes in Washington, and I’m sure it’ll become one of yours too! Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited Barclay Lake before and what your thoughts were.

Directions: from the town of Monroe, head east on US-2 toward Baring. After roughly 25 miles you will see The Baring Store on your right; at this junction, turn left onto 635th Place NE. You will cross over railroad tracks and soon the road will become unpaved. Follow this road for about 4 miles until you reach the Barclay Lake Trailhead. More detailed information available at WTA.org.

A Moody Day in the PNW

I’m finally back in Washington for another visit and decided to take advantage of the cloudy, moody weather that greeted me the first day by doing some of my favorite PNW activities.

I started the day by visiting several different coffee stands and enjoying some specialty drinks. If you didn’t know, I run an Instagram called @pnw_coffeestands where I feature a new coffee stand around the Pacific Northwest every week. Since I’m not currently living in the PNW, I have to visit loads every time I visit so that I have plenty of content throughout the year!

Pro tip: make sure to do some basic research before you pop into a coffee stand or you may find yourself at a bikini coffee stand, which might not be your cup of tea! Oftentimes the stands will say “family-friendly” to let you know the baristas will be fully clothed!

After loading up on plenty of caffeine, I made my way over to Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing. Ivar’s is an old-school seafood chain with a variety of locations throughout Washington that vary from walk-up seafood bar to sit-down dining. The Mukilteo Landing location is one of my favorites because you get fantastic views of the Puget Sound. On a cloudy day, nothing is more comforting than enjoying a cup of warm clam chowder and watching the ferries go by.

After lunch, I strolled over to a nearby pier and watched some gentlemen fishing and crabbing. You should always keep your eyes peeled when you’re near the water because you may catch glimpses of sea life such as starfish or seals!

Pro tip: bring plenty of layers, and always carry a good rain jacket with you. Even though I was fine in a short sleeve shirt during lunch, I quickly had to layer on another jacket as I strolled by the water.

Next up, I walked over to the Mukilteo Lighthouse, a quaint little park featuring an over 100-year-old lighthouse that still works to this day. This park is a gorgeous little spot to stroll through and catch some amazing waterfront views.

From the lighthouse park you can easily make your way to the docks and continue your stroll along the shoreline. It’s not uncommon to see seagulls feasting on things like mussels and crabs, and I love watching the sailboats head out onto the Sound.

After a cozy and relaxing afternoon in Mukilteo I made my way up to Barclay Lake for a quick early evening hike, though you’ll have to stay tuned for that photo diary!

If you ever find yourself in Washington and want to experience some classic moody PNW vibes, I highly recommend enjoying some seafood along the Sound. Let me know your favorite ways to take advantage of cloudy PNW weather, and stay tuned for my next post!

Vegan’s Guide to Seattle

Hello folks! Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite vegan spots in Seattle! The first couple times I visited from Georgia I was so impressed with how many vegan-friendly restaurants there are, and it’s still one of my favorite places to try new vegan dishes.

I don’t frequently find myself in the city for breakfast, but I thoroughly recommend Wayward Vegan Cafe if you’re looking for some fantastic breakfast/brunch grub. They’ve added even more options since I last visited, but I can vouch for the country fried seitan and pancakes being absolutely delicious! They also serve lunch and dinner, so you’ll have tons of variety whenever you decide to visit.

While some may argue donuts aren’t a “proper” breakfast, I say to follow your heart and eat the dang donuts! Mighty-O Donuts is my favorite spot in the city for vegan donuts because they offer some amazing classics and delicious specialties. I’m a sucker for any cake donut with sprinkles, but their fritters and yeast-raised donuts are also fantastic. What better way to start your day in Seattle than a delicious vegan donut and a hot cup of coffee?

Once you walk off breakfast and get hungry enough for lunch, I’d recommend swinging by Pi Vegan Pizzeria. Pi Vegan offers up some of the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had. My favorites are buffalo chicken and magic mac, which features their very own vegan mac and cheese on top! Don’t worry, if you’re not in the mood for pizza you can also just get a serving of their delicious mac and cheese on its own.

Veggie Grill is another awesome vegan option in the city, especially if you’re on the hunt for something quick and casual. Veggie Grill serves up a variety of sandwiches, salads, and bowls, and anything you order is sure to be delicious. Their salads are absolutely massive, so I love getting one as my entree and then a couple sides to share. If you’re on the hungrier side, they also have classics like burgers and fries to fuel you up!

If you still have room for dinner by the end of the day, you must swing by El Borracho. They actually have a location in Pike Place Market which makes it a fantastic option after a day of shopping. El Borracho’s menu is 100% plant-based and they have so many incredible options, it’s hard to know where to begin. When in doubt, I always recommend the nachos which you can load up with shredded “chicken” or seitan steak.

This restaurant recommendation is a little bit outside of Seattle in a town called Renton, but I included it because it’s a fantastic option if you’re heading into the city from SeaTac. Blossom Vegetarian is hands down one of my favorite vegan Asian restaurants in Seattle. They specialize in Vietnamese cuisine and have everything from Vietnamese chicken nuggets to pho to entrees with plant-based duck and fish. Their menu is extensive and has some of the most impressive plant-based meats I’ve ever tried.

You didn’t think I would forget dessert, did you? Cinnaholic is actually a chain but their Seattle location is worth a visit because these are the best vegan cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. These aren’t your standard, canned rolls: they have almost any kind of topping you can think of. You can get a standard frosting or try flavors like chai, cake batter, or maple, and your topping options range from fruit to pretzels to vegan COOKIE DOUGH. Yup, you read that right. Mind. Blown.

If you’re more of an ice cream person, Frankie and Jo’s is the place to go. All of their ice cream is vegan, and they offer some deliciously unique flavors like salted caramel with activated charcoal as well as dark chocolate with coffee and toasted almonds. You can also get your ice cream served up in a cone and topped with extras like cookie dough bites and chocolate fudge sauce. Talk about dreamy!

I hope you get to enjoy some of these recommendations on your next visit to Seattle, and let me know what your favorite vegan spots are in the city!

My Favorite Hiking Areas in Washington

If you get the opportunity to visit the beautiful state of Washington, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the hikes and amazing areas to explore. I’ve spent a good amount of time visiting and even living there and I have still only seen a tiny fraction of everything it has to offer! Today I’ll share with you some of the hiking areas in Washington that I’ve come to love so you can have some guidance for your next trip to Evergreen State!

Mount Rainier National Park

Make sure to check out the photo diary from my last visit!

This one may seem like an obvious choice, but Mount Rainier National Park is such a well-known national park for a reason. It is one of the most beautiful national parks I’ve visited and has some amazingly unique landscapes that are hard to find elsewhere in the United States. Mount Rainier itself is an incredible sight that I never get tired of seeing, and the park has tons of hikes ranging in difficulty. Not only are the views in the park amazing pretty much anywhere you go, but you’re sure to see some wildlife as well. Last time we visited we saw elk and a bear! Mount Rainier National Park is well worth the visit and a national park I think everyone should visit in their lifetime.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a massive area that includes the western region of the Cascade Mountain Range. A large portion of the national forest is located just about an hour east of Seattle, and that specific area is one of my favorites. This National Forest offers almost countless hikes ranging from fairly easy to very challenging. Some of my favorites include Heybrook Lookout, a short but steep hike to a fire tower, and Barclay Lake (check out my photo diary from that hike here)! Whether you’re in the mood for a casual hike to a stunning lake or a viewpoint of the mountains, or you’re ready for a challenging summit or scramble, the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has it all!

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and has some of the most diverse landscapes in the entire state. The park is home to forests, alpine areas, a rainforest, and beaches, so it truly offers anything you could be looking for. The rainforest is an amazing place to stroll through massive trees covered in thick moss while the beaches are rocky and dramatic. As a bonus, for any Twilight fans out there, the town of Forks is located just 30-40 minutes outside of the park and is an awesome little spot to check out as well. Hikers, photographers, and fishermen alike will love this area and everything it has to offer.

3 Towns in Washington (Other Than Seattle) You Have to Visit

Hello friends! Several years ago, my parents made the move from Georgia to Washington and since then we’ve had so much fun exploring all the different areas the state has to offer. While Seattle is probably the first town that comes to mind, there are so many other awesome towns that I think everyone should explore if they find themselves in Washington. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Snoqualmie
In 2019 I had the opportunity to intern at a museum in the town of Snoqualmie, and it was one of my favorite jobs ever, largely because I fell in love with the town. Snoqualmie is located about 30 minutes east of Seattle, making it an incredibly easy and worthwhile day trip. The main feature of the town is Snoqualmie Falls, a roaring 268′ waterfall that now serves as a hydroelectric power plant. You can visit the park for free and walk through a series of trails that will give you views of the waterfall from above and at river level. Be warned, it does get extremely busy during the summer and weekends, but if you can go earlier in the day or during an off season, you’ll probably miss some of the madness. Don’t forget all the nearby hiking too – Mount Si is one of the most well-known in the area, and I suggest Franklin Falls if you’re in the mood to chase some waterfalls.

Leavenworth
Leavenworth is a bit of a haul to get to, but the drive there and the town itself make a visit well worth your time. Leavenworth is located about 2 hours east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. The drive there will take you through some beautiful mountain roads and the town itself is designed to look like a Bavarian village nestled in the mountains. One of the most popular times to visit Leavenworth is in the fall and winter when they host Oktoberfest and put up a massive display of Christmas decorations. There are tons of shops, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and breweries to keep you occupied, and there’s also some paved trails that will walk you by the river (which you can tube in the summer!)

Coupeville
If you want to experience Washington’s version of “island life,” Coupeville is the way to do it. This small town is located on Whidbey Island, which is about 2 hours north of Seattle. To get to the island, you can either take a ferry or pass over Deception Pass Bridge, both of which are pretty cool in and of themselves. Coupeville is located right on the water, making it the perfect town to grab a cup of coffee and just wander around. There’s a dock area where you can try to spot some sea life (we saw a seal one time!) and plenty of little shops and restaurants to keep you occupied. I would also recommend visiting Lavender Wind, a pick-your-own farm that is a beautiful sight in the summertime.