Remember last week how I professed my love for Washington’s summer weather and how grateful I was that summer had finally arrived? Yup, joke’s on me, folks! Washington’s crazy weather struck again this weekend, dropping our temperatures from the mid-80s to the low 60s, and swapping our sunshine for clouds and intermittent showers. Over our last two years here, I’ve grown accustomed to the constant weather swings, and I’m much more inclined to get out no matter what, but that’s not to say we weren’t a bit resentful that the glorious sunshine swapped for clouds just in time for the weekend. Nevertheless, I wanted to get out, and we made plans to head out to Green River Gorge swimming hole.
After our jaunt hiking Lake Serene last weekend, I knew we needed something easier to break the boys back in, and we really wanted to take Danny this time, too. I’d originally hoped for sun and warmth, but when we found out it just wasn’t going to happen, we decided to persist anyway and settled for the better weather of the two days, heading to Green River Gorge swimming hole on Sunday instead of Saturday.
A while back, I did some research looking for the best hidden outdoor gems near JBLM, and I stumbled across Green River Gorge on Outdoor Project’s website. Touted as a classically “local’s” spot, this little gem of a trail is unmarked, along a side road, and winds through its undocumented little path down toward Icy Creek Trail and, eventually, the Green River. Located in Enumclaw, Washington, it’s only about an hour from JBLM (it literally took us one hour and six minutes), and offers a super easy path to a well-deserved reward at the bottom, a rocky, crystal clear swimming hole that I just couldn’t get enough of.
The trail itself is only about a mile each way for a grand total of two miles roundtrip. Better than that, the path is lined thick with wildflowers and raspberry bushes, and though most of the bushes were picked clean by the time we went on Sunday, we did score a handful or two of delicious red berries. The boys were hesitant to do the hike, and I knew that having challenged them with Lake Serene would yield this reaction, which was part of the reason I chose a super easy trail. I wanted them to remember that hikes don’t have to be hard to have fun. There were, of course, small challenging sections. The overgrowth was heavy in a few places, and several parts of the trail had large pools of muddy water. And, right before you reach the Green River, you have to make your way downhill to the clearing, which featured slippery clay, rocky jut-outs, and of course, more puddles. Within 20 minutes though, we reached the river.
The Green River Gorge swimming hole is perfection. Opposite the swimming hole are towering limestone cliffs, and the little sparrows that frequent the area dart and fly over you the whole time. When it’s quiet – like it was for us – you can see the fish jumping and swimming downstream, and this is also a favorite spot for fishermen. We saw a few fishing the free-flowing river downstream from us and a little upstream, as well, but the swimming hole was quiet, reflective, and completely beautiful.
We’d hoped for sun, and we all brought our swimsuits just in case, but the sun was fickle, and it just didn’t want to shine consistently. Spencer and Porter kept begging to get in though, and I knew I wanted to take a dip because I’m crazy, and Ryan didn’t want to be the only one not to get in. So, since it was quiet and we were pretty much alone, all of us (except Mieke) changed into our suits and took the plunge one-by-one into the frigid water. It was around 59 degrees; definitely cold enough of wake you up, but we did it, and Spencer even surprised us by dunking in twice! I love watching them muster up the courage to do something and then that immense pride on their faces once it’s done. That, to me, is the ultimate reward.
Honestly, Green River Gorge swimming hole is a definite hidden gem. I might be spoiling the secret by posting this, but it’s one of those little places that’s tucked away so perfectly, offering a beautiful hideaway for picnics, summer fun, and plenty of water play near JBLM. If you’re ever interested in going, here’s what you should know:
Trail Length: 2 miles roundtrip
Level of Difficulty: Easy; we did this as a family and, though sections get a bit slippery, it’s totally family-friendly.
Dog-friendly: Yes – please make sure to pick up after your pet though!
Tips: Practice pack and go. Because this little trail is off the beaten path, there are no facilities, whatsoever. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch, a swimsuit, and bug spray, as well. If you’re there in the evening, we saw the remnants of old campfires on the rocks, so that could be fun, too.