Under the Stars near Seattle

The Cascades: Cooper Lake
  |  Gorp.com

Directions: Take I-90 east to Cle Elum, then head northeast through Roslyn and Ronald, continuing 5 miles past Salmon la Sac Campground on FS 46.
Travel Time: 2 hours.
Information: Cle Elum Ranger Station, (509) 674-4411.
Reservations: Not accepted.
Fee: $7.
Open: June through Labor Day.



As everyone who lives here in Seattle knows, one of the best reasons for living here is the proximity to the great outdoors. It's less than an hour from Seattle to the crest of the Cascades, with skiing in winter and plenty of hiking in summer. Unfortunately, the route into the mountains is a four-lane interstate highway, and though I-90 sure makes it a quick trip into the mountains, the roar of the freeway makes for some truly hellish campgrounds. So, forget about the campgrounds on either side of Snoqualmie Pass if you're at all interested in a good night's sleep.

The closest enjoyable campgrounds lie at the north end of Cle Elum Lake, through Roslyn (of Northern Exposure fame). However, though the Wish Poosh, Cle Elum River, and Salmon la Sac campgrounds are decent enough places to pitch a tent, for a more peaceful experience continue on past the Salmon la Sac to little Cooper Lake and the Owhi Campground.

The campsites at this walk-in campground are only a few hundred feet from the parking area, but that's enough distance to filter out most of the partiers. Because no motors are allowed on this lake, it attracts lots of canoeists and sea kayakers. The views from the lakeshore and out on the water are extraordinary, with the craggy summits of Chikamin Peak and Lemah Mountain rising to the north. From just beyond the campground, you can hike up into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness on the flanks of these peaks and wander among superb alpine scenery.



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