Pairings of trailheads and brewpubs across Washington state.
Beverage pairings usually mean matching wine or beer with food. But in the recreation-obsessed Pacific Northwest, we’re just as likely to pair our drinks with visits to the outdoors, and few things are more satisfying after a long hike than a delicious pint.
Here’s a sampler of beer and hiking pairings from around the state, many of them easily accessible for a day hike or quick overnight from the Seattle area.
Bellingham and Mount Baker
Folks hiking on and around Mount Baker have a handful of good options for local brews. Two favorites: Boundary Bay Brewery in downtown Bellingham (107 Railroad Ave., bbaybrewery.com) and North Fork Brewery in Deming (6186 Mount Baker Highway, northforkbrewery.com). Boundary Bay is known for its high-quality brews, and quirky North Fork offers great beer, pizza and even a wedding chapel close to the mountain. The area boasts many gorgeous hikes, including Heliotrope Ridge, a 5.5-mile (round trip) mountaintop hike that demonstrates the power of water and ice with snow-fed creeks, carved peaks and an up-close look at Coleman Glacier.
If you go
• Sip responsibly and always designate a driver.
• Check regulations (including permit and pass requirements) and conditions for any trail. Washington Trails Association is a good resource; go to www.wta.org and search for any of the hikes listed in this story (driving directions included).
Fresh clams and oysters aren’t typical brewpub fare, unless you’re at 101 Brewery at Twana Road House in Quilcene, Jefferson County (294793 U.S. Hwy. 101, 101brewery.com). Those, plus microbrews and homemade pies, make it an ideal post-hike pit stop for hungry hikers. The wildflower-strewn eastern slopes of the Olympics are close by. The trailhead for Lower Big Quilcene River is only about 7 miles out of town, and the relatively flat trail (10 miles round trip) follows the burbling river through a cool canyon.
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Right at Snoqualmie Pass, in the middle of one of Washington’s most active recreation corridors, Dru Bru (named for head brewer Dru Ernst and open since December 2014) is a truly hike-in, hike-out brewery (10 Pass Life Way, drubru.com). Take the kids for a short but rewarding hike in the Denny Creek area, or make the 3-mile (round trip) hike to peaceful Lodge Lake. Then treat the youngsters to root beer at Dru Bru while you sample the real thing.
Lying just downhill from an abundance of hikes, Roslyn Brewing Company is a longtime hiker favorite (208 Pennsylvania Ave., roslynbrewery.com). Hit the brewpub, housed in an Old West-style wooden storefront in a once-bustling mining town, after a day hike along the Middle Fork Teanaway River (7 miles round trip), where water flows through a lovely high-alpine valley. Overnight trips nearby include the Robin Lakes area, which give hikers a taste of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. “Tuck and Robin Lakes plus a Roslyn Dark is the best combo of all time,” says Redmond’s Ingunn Markiewicz, a frequent hiker.
Traipse through the forest or along 1,800 feet of beach at Tolmie State Park, just outside Olympia (parks.wa.gov/297/Tolmie). There’s even a man-made scuba park for underwater adventure. Or take the handful of flat, easy, short trails to a variety of habitats (and their attendant animal species) at 3,000-acre Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, just to the east (fws.gov/refuge/nisqually). Then pop into Top Rung Brewing in Lacey (8343 Hogum Bay Lane, toprungbrewing.com), owned by two Olympia firefighters and offering the classic Lacey Lager, firefighting-themed brews such as the Prying Irons IPA, and seasonal fruit infusions.
This is quintessential hiking-and-brewpub territory, given the area’s steep slopes and Bavarian atmosphere. Spend a day exploring one short hike after another along the Wenatchee River, such as the Tumwater Pipeline Trail, whose famous old bridge gives great views of the rushing river. Right in the middle of Leavenworth, Icicle Brewing Company draws hikers, climbers and paddlers to its outdoor patio (935 Front St., iciclebrewing.com).
Wenatchee might have the most direct hiking/sipping combo: You could walk from downtown to the Saddle Rock trailhead, less than two miles away. Hike the short, steep uphill trail, a mile each way (be sure to stay out of areas undergoing restoration), to the eponymous geological feature at the top. Then head back down to Badger Mountain Brewing for fresh beer as well as barbecue from Country Boy’s BBQ, in the same building (1 Orondo Ave., facebook.com/badgermountainbrewing).
Start with a hike on Mount Rainier’s eastern flank — or something closer to town, such as Cowiche Canyon (cowichecanyon.org), a 6-mile (round trip) jaunt past basalt cliffs and desert flora that many birds call home. (This being Yakima, there’s a spur trail to a wine-tasting room.) Pair it with Bale Breaker Brewing Company (1801 Birchfield Road, balebreaker.com), which is even more about hops than most Northwest breweries: The owners come from generations of Yakima Valley hop growers. If you want to nerd out about exactly which hop varietal is in your beer, this is the place for you. Hop fields even surround the patio and lawn.
Columbia River Gorge
How can you not visit a brewpub called Walking Man Brewing after a hike? Its cozy outdoor beer garden in Stevenson, Skamania County, is a welcome oasis after a long day outside (240 S.W. First St., walkingmanbeer.com). To work up your appetite, take one of the family-friendly short trails along the Columbia River. For a slightly bigger challenge, take a small but rewarding bite of the Pacific Crest Trail on the Three Corner Rock trail. On a clear day, a short scramble following a 4.4-mile hike offers views of five surrounding volcanic peaks.
Strolling to the top of Dishman Hills Natural Area’s undulating, tree-covered 530 acres in Spokane Valley rewards hikers with expansive views of Spokane and its surroundings. From there, 12 String Brewing Co. is only five minutes’ drive away (11616 E. Montgomery Drive, Spokane Valley; facebook.com/12stringbrewingco). There, you’ll find beers with music-inspired names and guitar-shaped tap handles.