It’s a love, hate relationship on Baker Lake

Campground Review: Maple Grove campground (boat-in or hike-in)

3.5 stars

I have a love and hate relationship with Maple Grove campground and in my experience it has all depended on the season in which I have visited the lake.  I love the campgrounds along the lake and amazing views of Mount Baker, just hate the unbearably busy fishing and camping crowds, biting flies and mosquitos summer brings.

I have been to Baker Lake three (3) times in the last three (3) years to camp and have only been able to actually camp on the lake two (2) of those three (3) trips. September has been my golden month on the lake as far as luck in finding a camping site.  We no longer even bother heading up to Baker Lake or any of the surrounding campgrounds in July or August unless we are there to fish and/or already have a reservation. We once made the trip up mid-July for our anniversary and found out upon arriving in town it was the opening weekend of sockeye salmon fishing season and I have never seen so more boats packed onto a lake except at Sea Fair!  It was crazy!  No camping available, not even on the side NF / FS roads. 

When you do have the chance to make the journey to Baker Lake’s Maple Grove campground, you will find a small campground tucked in a serene maple grove shading the shoreline of the lake.  You have two (2) options to access the campground;

1) Hike in via Baker Lake Trail 610 (stock and leashed pets allowed). From the Mt. Baker Ranger District office in Sedro-Woolley, WA follow State Route 20 east for 16 miles to milepost 82. Turn left (north) on the Baker Lake Highway (Forest Service Road 11). Continue for 14 miles to the Baker Dam Road and turn right. Drive past the Puget Sound Energy Kulshan Campground and across the Upper Baker Dam. After crossing the dam, turn left on FS Road 1107. Follow road 1107 for 1 mile and look for the trailhead and parking area on the left side of the road. You will need an America the Beautiful pass or a NorthWest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead. Register your group at the trailhead and get ready to hit the trail.

Once you start the hike the first real point of interest you come across is the bridge at Anderson Creek at 1.5 miles down the trail, followed by Anderson Creek Campground at 2 miles.  Continue on another 2 miles and you will reach the spur for the Maple Grove campground.

2) Boat in. When boating in you have a number of over-night parking lot options to park your vehicle in during the summer season, granted you can find parking. In the off-season you can park over-night at either Kulshan boat launch or Panorama Point boat launch which are open year round. 

Maple Grove campground has a wooden boat dock but depending on water levels I’ve seen it completely beached or floating alone in the water, you’ve been warned. 

Maple Grove Campground hosts six (6) official, semi-private campsites that you’ll find free on a first come first serve basis. No need to bring the dehydrated meals or bear canister (unless you backpacked) because there are bear boxes located at almost every site to store food and scented items. Each site has a picnic table, fire pit and grill. We found at least one topless toilet located near the camp with a nice view of the forest, rumor has there are more. There is no running water on this side of the lake so bring your water filter to head to the local creeks with.   

If you do have the pleasure of hiking in to Maple Grove Campground or chose to explore the surrounding area, take the time to check out the forest as it is full of huge, old growth trees, some trees still showing the evidence of old lumbar scars. If you continue hiking past Maple Grove there are two (2) more campgrounds further north along the lake; Swift Creek and Noisy Creek.

The real pleasure of staying at the Maple Grove Campground or any of the boat-in/hike-in campsites along this side of the lake, are the majestic views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksun rising up above Baker Lake. You can literally sit on the dock all day soaking up those epic views.

Warning: I have heard rumors that the boat-in/ hike-in camps along Baker Lake can get rowdy and loud with large group parties in the summer months.  We haven’t had this experience personally but have heard tales of this happening and seen reports of this on WTA.

Ranger Review: GCI Waterside Pod Rocker with Sunshade at French Cabin Creek

Ranger Review: GCI Waterside Pod Rocker with Sunshade at French Cabin Creek Dispersed Camping

Camping Review: 5 stars

We have nothing but love for French Cabin Creek (F.C.C.) dispersed camping zone!

From our home (Seattle area) to the camp zone typically takes less than 2 hours to arrive, horrific I-90 weekend traffic not included.

The F.C.C. dispersed camping zone can be found by crossing the first bridge off the Salmon la Sac Road, located between the Cle Elum River and Red Mountain Campgrounds. 

Once you arrive in the zone most of the camps are located along either Howson Creek, Little Salmon la Sac River or the backside of Lake Cle Elum.  They are available for camping from May to mid-November. Each camp we’ve stayed in offers waterfront camping, at least 2 parking spots, 2+ cleared spots for tents, trees for hammocks, usually 1 fire ring or more, and a honey-bucket somewhere nearby. 

We really enjoy camping here because it’s off the main road so it’s much quieter than the campgrounds right off Salmon la Sac Road, plus the river drowns out most of the noise from any loud camp neighbors.

The F.C.C. dispersed camping zone is located nearby the local Salmon la Sac swimming hole and Lake Cle Elum, so you have plenty of water activity options close at hand. We typically see folks’ kayak, raft, even SUP-board by our camp on their way down to the lake. Kayak and SUP rentals are available in the towns of Cle Elum and Roslyn for $50 daily.

Did I mention there are several hiking trails located close to the F.C.C. camp zone as well; Pete Lake trail, Salmon la Sac trail, Domerie Peak trail, French Cabin Creek trail and Thorp Creek/Little Joe Lake trail, just to name a few.

No forest passes are needed to stay in the F.C.C. dispersed camping zone so camping is truly free (unless you find yourself at a trailhead, then you will need a Northwest Forest Pass for the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest, be warned)!

Now just a few last-minute gentle reminders (since this is a dispersed camping zone) that there will be NO: running water, RV hookups or dump stations, no trash bins (pack it in/pack it out), picnic tables, fire pit grills, and on occasion a few more campfire restrictions than in the local campgrounds.

Gear Review: 4.5 stars

As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I occasionally get to test out products to review – I recently tested the GCI Pod Rocker with Sunshade and boy am I in love with this chair!

The chair is as described, a beachside rocking chair with a positional SPF sun blocking shade but GCI did a really great job designing this chair! 

The chair has a large comfortable seat holding up to a 250 lb. adult. The rocking mechanism is fantastic, rocking smoothly and quietly all weekend long on my first trip out. I was even able to set the chair up on uneven ground and continue rocking away while watching the river and kayakers float past our camp. 

I am super fair skinned and tend to burn through clothing and sunscreen, so having an extra layer of protection from the sun in the form of the SPF UV blocking sunshade is a real-life saver for me! My husband laughed all weekend at me, as I happily readjusted my sunshade time and again to stay safe and sunburn-free. 

Another little plus I love about the GCI Pod Rocker with Sunshade is the cool side pouch made to hold your phone and a beverage, which is super convenient for all-day lounging.  

When you are done using your Pod Rocker for the day, the chair easily folds up and fits into a travel bag with shoulder strap for opportune travel capability. 

Now the only complaint I have with the chair is the color.  After a weekend camping, leaving it out overnight, I awoke to the seat covered in sticky pine needles that left slight stains on the light aqua colored fabric.  Then there was the wild incident when our ketchup bottle lid flew off and sprayed me and the chair in ketchup, that also left its mark on the light-colored chair fabric.

My husband’s complaint with the chair is that he feels too hunched over when sitting in it for long periods of time. He said he feels like the chair won’t allow him to sit up straight. Now I don’t know if that is because he is so tall, at 6’4” or just how he fit in the chair but I am 5’6” and didn’t experience this problem. So, I’m guessing it’s more him and his height or long skinny frame?

Ranger Review: OOFOS OOMG Low Shoe at Owhi Campground on Cooper Lake

Arrive early to snag a piece of this lakeside paradise!

Ranger Review: OOFOS OOMG Low Shoe at Owhi Campground on Cooper Lake, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington State

Campground Review: Owhi Campground

Review: 5 Stars «««««

Getting to Owhi Campground is a bit of an adventure in itself. Take exit 80 off I-90 and slowly meander your way through the small mining towns of Roslyn and Ronald. Once out of Ronald you'll find yourself on the 903 / Salmon La Sac Road. Follow for another 16 miles along Lake Cle Elum and the Little Salmon la Sac River . Take a left at the second bridge (NF-46) and cross, then continue on this road for 4 miles. At the end of 4 miles the paved road will end, a gravel road begins, and there will be a sign to Cooper Lake. Take a right (NF-4616) to continue onward. Another 1.5 miles down the gravel road and your destination will be tucked in the bush on the left, the beautiful Owhi Campground.

Staying to the left upon pulling into the lot, there are 3 parking lots each above a number of the 22 walk-in sites. The first parking lot has a pit toilet bathroom, self-pay station ($14 a night, $6 per extra car- one car and 6 people per site), and a main trail down to the camps and lake. The second parking lot also has a pit toilet bathroom and rubbish bin. The third lot is just parking but is bigger and I've seen larger trucks with campers or small trailers park here. Each parking lot also has "private" trails from the parking to specific camps so be warned that if you follow random trails you may end up in someone's camp.

The campground itself is made up of wooded, semi-private, to not-so-private camps set along a main trail that leads down from the parking lot towards and along the lake. The majority of the sites are mostly shaded. There are plenty of trees to hang hammocks amongst if you are a hammock camper, or if you want to hang one up to just sit in. Each site is equipped with a built-in picnic table, fire ring, and site number post with clip to attach payment stub.

There is no camp host but a ranger or volunteer will do a walk through at least once a day to check on things and collect payments from the box. There is no running water in camp, bring your own or pump from the local creeks.

The campground offers a boat launch. Please don't drag your beautiful Old Town canoe through the woods like a savage; just drive it over to the boat ramp. Cooper Lake hosts non-motorized-only boats which makes for a peaceful camping experience. The lake is absolutely beautiful, as is the surrounding Alpine Wilderness overlooking it.

We arrived on a Thursday early afternoon and there were only 4 sites left of the 22 available first-come-first-served sites. We quickly paid for sites #4 & 5 and began setting up camp. We talked to some gals up the trail in sites #9 & 10 and they arrived on Tuesday evening to claim their sites for a large group for the weekend. Duly noted; arrive early for the best spots.

When camping at site #5, you have one of the "private" trails from parking lot #1 straight into the camp. The trail was steep yet convenient to have easy car-to-camp access. Site #5 was split from site #4 by the main trail but felt more private as it was surrounded by bushes on three sides and only open facing the trail. Site #4 is closer to the lake and has a better view in general but is a more open site with much less privacy, and the ability to look straight into the next camp at site #3. Site #4, however, sort of makes up for it by having a straight path to the lake.

There are a few small pebble-strewn "beaches" along the lakeshore where you can set up a few chairs for an afternoon in the sun, or cast a line from in the early light. Rainbow trout are available to catch for the crafty fisherman. I strutted around in my super comfy OOFOS OOMG Low Shoes, with our chairs, rafts, kayaks, and SUP as we headed down to one of the beaches and set up for the weekend with other campground locals to enjoy the lake, sun, and mountain views.

If playing on the lake isn't enough activity for you, there are a few hiking trails located close by. You can hike to Pete Lake by either driving or hiking the remaining mile down the road to the trailhead from Owhi Campground. There is also the Mineral Creek trailhead a bit further up NF-4600.

Product Review: OOFOS OOMG Low Shoe

Review: 5 Stars «««««

As a Review Ranger for I was provided with a pair of women's OOMG Low Shoes in black by OOFOS to test and review.


· Closed cell foam made from non-toxic properties and painted with non-toxic paints

· Latex free for sensitive feet (like mine)

· 6 month warranty

· Lightweight - each shoe weighs 6.12 ounces

· Incredibly comfortable!

· 4-way stretch mesh upper is breathable

· Machine washable (do not put in the drier)


· Do not dry out quickly - mine took 22 hours to dry out

· Not made to go on rough adventures in - tore a chunk from my sole trying to walk to the lake from my campsite

The OOMG low shoe is sold as a recovery shoe and it totally fits the bill!

While your typical gym shoe foot-bed was designed with many layers to help move you through your workout, Oofoam was designed by former athletic shoe designers with a single, closed foam cell to absorb more shock than a traditional shoe, ease hip and back pain, put the body into a more natural stance with high arch support, and give tired feet relief and ease the road to recovery post workout.

I tested these shoes to the limit on a 4-day camp trip on Cooper Lake and daily in my garden since our return. While at the Owhi Campground we hiked, kayaked, hung in hammocks and trucked from our camp to the lake and back more times than I care to count.

Post hiking:

Post hiking these shoes are a dream! Our weekend on Cooper Lake was hot, 85-100 degrees out, and pulling off my hiking boots and thick socks in exchange for the OOMG Low Shoe and ankle socks was so refreshing. The shoes are made from a closed cell foam foot-bed which is extremely comfortable and cushy, a 4-way stretch mesh upper which allows them to be incredibly lightweight, weighing in at 12.24 ounces a pair. They are surprisingly breathable and slide off and on with ease. Not to mention crafted with non-toxic materials/paints and are latex free, allowing all wearers to enjoy sock free, if you're into that sort of thing.

I spent an entire day in them around camp and my comfort level stayed impeccable. I did, however, tear a tiny chunk out of the inside of my right sole at some point hiking from camp to our beach set-up on the lake. I noticed that OOFOS has a 6-month warranty on their products that I will have to look into for my tear.

My suggestion when camping with the OOMG would be to keep them on the groomed trails or close to camp because they otherwise make a wonderful hammock camp shoe. No fuss sliding off and on from my hammock or buddies’ tent.

Water sports:

When I read the shoe was machine washable, I chose to test them out on the water.

I wore them for a morning of light kayaking. While my foot bed was wet the shoe didn't retain tons of water inside while kayaking so it was comfortable; not too cold and I was still able to retain grip inside my shoe without rubbing or blistering. The foot bed doesn't have a lot of grip to the bottom of the shoe so I didn't give it a go on the SUP, not to mention my balance sucks so I wouldn't be an accurate judge up there anyways.

My only real gripe about wearing them in the water was the dry out time. I'm lucky I brought extra shoes on the trip as these stayed wet for 22 hours on an 85 degree day, left out to dry upside down on a picnic table in a partial sun/shaded camp.

Returning home & around the Garden:

Since returning home the OOMG Low Shoes have become my go to house and gardening shoes. While wearing them in the garden I've found that I enjoy wearing my OOFOS without socks to water my plants; my feet can breathe, I don’t mind if my shoes or feet get a little wet (as it's been so hot out) and damn are they cushy. These shoes seem to be slowly molding to my feet and are improving my balance and posture. My family has mentioned that they've noticed I'm standing up straighter and look healthier (due to decreased pain levels) to which I truly give the credit to the shoes. Not to be a whiner but I have been diagnosed with MS, psoriatic arthritis and early onset osteoarthrosis and typically deal with left leg weakness and hip pain on a daily basis. Since obtaining these shoes I would say my hip pain has decreased from a 7/10 to a 5/10 daily. That may not sound like much to you, but to me it is a serious improvement. I was so impressed with them that I suggested them to my Dad who also suffers from hip arthritis with two (2) prior hip replacements! He purchased the Men's Ooriginal sandals in black and absolutely loves them. In fact, he loves them so much that after just a week of having his, he just purchased my Mom a pair of the Women's Ooahh Lux slide in black hoping they help with her bunions. My sister dropped by today to help in my garden and noticed my "funny" shoes but after she read my review and found out my folks each own a pair too, she is interested in her own pair of OOMG Low Shoe's for her post hiking and yoga adventures. Both of my sisters will be going to Disneyland for Halloween and I’ll be recommending them to my youngest sister for her hotel and pool-side shoes! Looks like we should invite the OOFOS team to Christmas as it seems you're now a part of our family. Thanks OOFOS!


There are a few more things I'd like to give OOFOS a shout out for that are not necessarily part of the shoe but part of the company's core values; the Pink program and OOFOS rewards.

OOFOS Rewards is your basic rewards program except you are earning points towards amazingly cushy recovery footwear! They have all kinds of extra ways to earn points; share on FB for 15 points or refer a friend for 200 points for example but the basic point system is 1 point earned per $1 spent. Redeem 100 points for $5 discount, 200 points for $10 discount, 500 points for a $25 discount and 1,000 points for a $50 discount. In case you were wondering I totally signed up for the points program as I anticipate a growing collection of OOFOS footwear in my home.

The second project I'd like to point is the Project Pink program donates $10 from any Project Pink footwear collection sold, to breast cancer treatment research at Dana- Farber. I like to spend my money at companies that give back to their communities in one way or another, so cheers to OOFOS for doing their part to help fight breast cancer!

Campground closed

The campground has been closed though the boat launch is still open for use.

Sand Point Camp on the Ozette Loop trail

> We packed up late on a Friday evening to make the trek to the Ozette Loop on the northern coast of Washington state, roughly a 4.5 hour drive from Seattle.

> After spending the night in Sequim with family we headed out Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend, arriving at the Port Angeles Wilderness information center a little before 10am. Our timing was a huge mistake as we should have been waiting when the doors opened at 8am. We had a reservation form that we needed to turn in for a permit, and we waited in line for an hour to make that transaction. I have never spent so much time in a ranger station. I did meet a nice gal in line named Liz and we chatted our way through the hour.

> We arrived at the packed out trailhead; located there is a restroom, the trailhead sign and need to know info, an informational kiosk about the parks origins, and a water station (IMPORTANT all the local rivers/ streams have dried up at this time Sept. 2017 and you must hike back to obtain water from this point).

> To begin the trail you cross a beautiful lichen covered, wooden bridge with a view of Ozette Lake before heading into the woods to choose your path to the coast. Shortly you come to a split in the trail with options to Sand Point or Cape Alva. We had reservations at Sand Point and the tides were against us so we headed straight for camp instead of making the entire 9 mile loop.

> The Sand Point Trail is an easy 3 miles of boardwalks out to the coast with little inclination. (Note, boardwalks are slick as snot when wet.) We camped in hammocks so the ranger suggested we head north up the coast upon arriving at the beach to find a spot that would accommodate us.

> We found an amazing spot! Driftwood stairs led off the beach through the seagrass and into a clearing which was perfect to hang our hammocks and, to make things even better there was a mini driftwood wall built up making a camp kitchen with bench and flat stump for your stove. Surrounding the camp are 5' to 15' tall Salah berry bushes making the camp cozy and private. Our only seen neighbors were the squirrels and chipmunks and passing birds.

> We spent our first evening mesmerized by the seals on the rocks out in front of our camp and the eagles and blue herons flying overhead. We became the paparazzi of the tide pools, endlessly searching the beach for the black bear the ranger had reports of being seen on the beach this morning.

> Sadly, we knew we would be retiring early this evening as we could see the fog rolling in over the Pacific and it slowly engulfed our camp. In typical Pacific Ocean fashion it quickly became wet and windy, so off to bed we went.

> As the fog began to clear the following morning we had breakfast and packed up every water container we had to make the trek back to the trailhead for more water.

> The day was hot and muggy and we had missed the low tide again, and our chance to head up the beach to Wedding Rocks to view the petroglyphs carved into the rocks along the beach. So instead we napped in our hammocks with the gentle sway of the breeze rocking us to sleep.

> We awoke in time for an afternoon beach stroll. While walking the beach we talked to a few parents who promised to go home and burn the books that told them the trails were easy for children, as they carried their tired children off the rocky beach. They said the strip of beach between Sand Point and Cape Alva is a deep pebble covered beach, littered in giant rocks and driftwood one must scramble over and under with a lack of real trail. Needless to say they said it was rough with young children in tow.

> Our second evening in camp we witnessed the most epic coastal sunset to date! It painted the sky in shades of yellows and pinks melting into intense reds and purples. It was magical!

> The following day promised to be hot, so we packed up early and walked back out the Sand Point trail virtually alone with the suns first rays just hitting the trail.

> The trip to this stretch of magical coast is a long one at 4.5 hours, with crappy wait times at busy ranger stations but it was worth it. The amazing sunsets, coastal wildlife, private beach camps and a chance to see the petroglyphs or milky way (on a dark night) make this a to-do on your bucket list!

Pete Lake

Pete Lake is a bustling, dusty trail covered in berry bushes and beautiful blooms. We encountered tons of people, dogs and horses making their way to the lake on a sunny afternoon.

Pete Lake is a relatively short drive from Seattle. The trail-head is located just past Lake Cle Elum and the Salmon La Sac campground. The hike is an easy 4.5 miles of gradual up and down but you won't gain more than 600 feet of elevation at any time. 

My rag-tag group of four hiked out midday on a Saturday and were lucky enough to snag a nice lake side camp. We all chose to hammock camp and, to our surprise, found quite a few spots that would accommodate us.

We found after choosing our camp that we were located close to one of the two toilets posted on the lake.  "Ours" was located up a hill so get a head start if you need to use it. As always, we appreciate the topless toilet with a nice forest view and this one appeared to be almost brand new. Youcould still smell the fresh cedar!

There was a nice creek to pump water from a bit farther down the trail from our camp, but we awkwardly had to cut through other folks' camps (apologizing all the way) to get there. 

The bugs ate us alive, so we were really happy for our Repel candles and bug spray, otherwise they may have carried us away to feed off of later.

Be warned; the lake edges are really mucky unless you happen to be on one of the nice rocky sides. 

Your shoes may or may not be sucked off your feet; continue on at your own risk.

All in all is was a great one-night backpacking trip away from the city tucked in on the beautiful Pete lake, even with the bugs.

Crowded yet Cozy

Ipsut Creek Campground is a relatively easy 5 mile trek or bike ride with a 700’ elevation gain, down a closed road (due to the road wash out about 3 miles in) to a wooded campground nestled along the Carbon River.

Located at the trailhead are two bathrooms, a covered picnic area and a handful of parking stalls with additional parking located along the road. 

The trail begins behind the closed gates into the shade of the old growth forest. The trail then alternates between the shade of the forest and sunny skys with river views and wildflowers along the way.

There are a few side trips off the main Carbon River Trail even before reaching the Ipsut Creek Camp;

1) Mini Rainforest Loop, 0.25 miles

2) Old Mine Trail, 0.6 miles round trip

3) Green Lake & Ranger Falls trail, 3.6 miles round trip

Note: Sadly, the trail to Chenuis Falls has washed out, so now there is just a log bridge into the water to nowhere.

Once you reach the campground, it has about 20 campsites with about half the sites located on the river. We were lucky enough to swoop up site number 15 though, strangely, another family decided to share it with us for our easy river front access.  Thankfully the river is pretty loud and drowned out the noise of our close campers. We did choose to camp on the high-profile weekend of the 4th of July, so all the cool campsites along the river were obviously full, which is why we think we had “friends” join us. There was a large fallen tree sort of splitting the camp site in half, so we took the left half, with the smaller 1 picnic table option, while the strangers took the right half with 2 picnic tables. 

The trees in camp are great for setting up hammocks. We set up a hammock triangle upon arrival in camp near the river for lazy afternoon naps. My siblings both slept in their hammocks fulltime, while my husband and I set up a tent in a small clearing on the opposite side of the picnic table, closer to the bear lockers (bear lockers are a huge plus, meaning a bear canister isn’t necessary if you’re not heading deeper into the backcountry). 

The campground had a decent amount of wildlife running around.  We had a number of chipmunks running around our camp cleaning up any scraps left daily; we found a live mouse chilling in a water bottle one morning upon setting up for breakfast, and deer came through the camp just about anytime it was quiet.  

The campground does have two restrooms but they smell like the bog of eternal stench, so bring strong essential oils, a scented hanky, or a shovel to dig cat tracks in the woods far from camp and water sources. 

The campground is a good base camp to explore the surrounding Carbon Glacier/ Mowich Lake area. We visited Ipsut Falls, which was less than a half mile round trip out of camp, making for a sweet little trip to break up the day in camp. 

We also chose to make the adventure up to the Suspension Bridge and to the Carbon Glacier view point. Our morning started off cool in heavy fog, which burned off throughout the day, giving way to magnificent views of the mountain and glacier. The trail was covered in wildflowers, cairns, creeks and mini waterfalls. It made for a beautiful day trip out of camp with plenty of opportunities to go further into the backcountry closer to Winthrop Glacier, out to Tolmie peak area or back out along the Wonderland Trail. Backcountry options seemed endless. 

Though the trail and camp (and site) were crowded, the hike to the glacier made the entire trip worth our cozy campsite. The Carbon Glacier is a bit dirty looking but to be standing in front of something so ancient and magnificent is truly amazing.  My husband, sister and I have now added a new item to our bucket lists and that is to see as many glaciers as we can before they melt, here’s to our first. =) 

Note: The campground is located within Mount Rainier National Park (no pets are allowed) so you’ll need to stop by the Carbonado Ranger Station for a Wilderness Permit and National Park Day Pass or Annual Permit to display for parking. No campfires within the campground.

Rad river views

Neve Camp is another far off adventure that is totally worth taking; located in the North Cascades not too deep off the thickly forested Thunder Creek Trail.

When planning our trip, we read reviews on other sites where folks thought the trail was boring, but we disagree. It is thickly forested but we were still able to glimpse the icy blue creek through the trees here and there and there was so much more to see! We found snails, mushrooms, wild flowers, all kinds of edible wild berries, trees large enough to stand inside, a rock cave in the hillside, and, of course, the sweet wooden foot bridge leading across Thunder Creek right into the first camp of the trail, Thunder Creek Camp . We bypassed this camp for two main reasons; 1) it’s located uncomfortably close to the trail, and 2) it’s only 1.5 miles into the trail (though not a bad spot if you got a late start and wanted to skip spending the night at Colonial Creek campground at the trail-head) and we wanted to see what lay ahead. We trekked another easy 1 mile before finding signs to Neve Camp. We wandered the nicely spread out campsites until settling on the dope site with the awesome river views from the fire pit/cook area. The tent sites for this camp are located on a small side trail up the hill a bit. They even have a nice pit toilet which isn’t enclosed so you can enjoy the surrounding forest while there. We had originally planned to head out the next morning, heading further up the trail but at breakfast our group of four decided we weren’t going anywhere as we were all in love with Neve Camp! We had an amazing view and sounds of the river to help lull us to sleep at night. During the day we watched all kinds of birds use the river as a freeway to head up or downstream. We saw many osprey, herons, a few formations of Canadian geese, a family of woodpeckers and more small birds we didn’t have names for. Did I mention the berries? The boys wandered the forest collecting all kinds of berries; blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, salal berry, salmon berry, and strawberry. We assume all those berries is why we found fresh bear scat on the trail, and spotted a black bear across the creek from us on our last morning in camp.

This location could be used as a mini base camp to hike up or down the trail a bit more. Neve Camp is also located very near the trail fork leading to Fourth of July Pass.

Really the only remotely negative thing I can say about this spot was that the tent sites were a bit small. We rock a Marmot Limelight 2P and we hardly had enough room to set up our tent! Once we jammed it in the tent site, however, we were good to go and the tent site size no longer mattered.

Second beach is the best!

Second Beach is a bit of a drive for most of us out to the coast near Forks, WA but the smell of the sea, the ability to camp right on the beach, waking up to the crash of the pacific ocean, not to mention the view; make it totally worth the trip! This is a relatively quick and easy hike. The trek is about 2 miles, up a hill and back down the other side. Upon arrival to the beach there is a large log jam to scramble over before being able to shed your shoes and sink your toes in the sand while you meander the beach choosing the perfect camp site.
There is one pit toilet near the trail exit to the beach and there are rumors of another on a hill overlooking the beach but I’ve yet to find it. There are few streams exiting the forest onto the beach to collect your water from.
When the tide is in you can roam the upper beach, play Frisbee, surf or relax. When the tide is out get out and explore the whole new world that has opened up, the beach is alive with sea life in the tide pools and rocks that have now been exposed. Admire the sea stacks known as the Quillayute Needles jutting out of the sea and up from the beach. Make it around to the backside of the largest rock, Crying Lady Rock, and there is a cave on the back side facing the sea where we enjoyed a vibrant sunset from. Though ensure you get off the rock before the tides come back in or you will enjoy a swim back to shore.
** Holiday weekends make this normal solitude a wild, packed and crazy place to camp.**

1 nighter

We've spent 1 night at Colonial Creek on a few different occasions but this is never our final destination. This is nothing against the campground, its been good to us so far. Always acceptably clean and we've always managed to find camp sights with little to no view of the neighboring camp. We've never managed to snag a lake location but they seem a bit more close and snugly than the other sites anyways. There are a number of the sites we deem "normal' just off the main or center loops but we typically keep along the back of the loop along the forest where there are more private, wooded sites and walk-in camp sites available.
We tend to use this campground as a starting point to either go backpacking up the Thunder Creek trail, the trail-head is located in the back of the campground near the amphitheater or to boat into campsites off Lake Diablo, the boat-launch is located at the front of the campground near the ranger booth.
Though after reading a few other reviews of this campground on this website we are planning a group trip back this winter in hopes of some astrophtography shots over the frozen lake.
A worthy side trip just a few minutes past the campground is the Lake Diablo overlook, well worth the trip for the view.

Long time favorite

I've been coming here since I was a little kid and it's still one of my favorite campgrounds (with leashed pets allowed). It's cute, wooded, with a moss covered old growth forest, fairly private camps, with one large group site available. Obviously the river spots are the prime locations but we recently had to branch out and stayed in the more wooded Loop B at site B4. We found we had plenty of space and privacy for a party of 5. At this location we had piped water between us and site B5, and we were conveniently located a short walk from restrooms and Purcell Falls. There are plenty of options to keep you busy inside the campground such as visit to one of the many rivers or creeks, the blue hole or a hike to Purcell falls.
If you choose to use the campground as a base camp your close to many other options as well; Ohanapecosh campground and amphitheater, hike naches peak loop, visit the town of Packwood or Mount Rainier National Park (no pets allowed).