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Best Washington Mountain Towns

author
Brent Mccoy
• Tuesday, 08 December, 2020
• 9 min read

These small communities not only provide a great place to just get away from it all, but their remote locations offer endless opportunities for hiking, biking, and camping. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date.

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Contents

Nestled in the western foothills of the Cascades, North Bend is known for being home to Tweed's Café, which was featured in Twin Peaks. The small town is only a short drive from Seattle, with Mount Si looming high in their horizon.

The scenic trail leads up through forest to a ledge overlooking a beautiful turquoise lake. In honor of it, they even have a public sculpture to see known as “The Temple of Power”, created with recycled bits of giant circuit breakers for columns.

This mile-long route kicks off near their main street downtown, heads over a bouncy suspension bridge and through a cedar-filled forest, passing by the town's historic powerhouse. Leavenworth may be a cozy Christmas town during the winter, but this small Bavarian village has plenty to offer during the summer, too.

You can still browse their many quaint local shops, dine on some authentic German food, and head out for plenty of outdoor activities throughout the area. Hidden among forest, Ashford is one of the closest towns bordering Mount Rainier National Park.

The tiny community provides several cabins and cottages that are perfect for setting up base before taking off to explore. Or if you're looking for a unique lodging experience, you can stay in the Cedar Creek Treehouse here, 50-feet high off the ground.

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The area not only offers opportunity for hiking, fishing and camping, but also plenty of cozy cabins and lodging options, as well as a Summer Rod Run event at the end of July. Tucked away in the North Cascades, Stephen can only be reached by boat (including the Lady of the Lake ferry), plane or hiking.

And of course, a trip to this small town isn't complete without stopping by the Sultan Bakery for some of their breakfast, lunch, or baked goods. Because of their great location by the mountains, the town's a popular destination for camping, hiking and fishing in the summer.

Concrete is only about twenty miles from the North Cascades National Park in Skagit County. The small town features several various attractions, from the historic Concrete Theater to Silo Park, and the Henry Thompson Bridge, which spans over the Skagit River.

Nestled in the eastern foothills of the mountains, the rural town has plenty of nearby hiking opportunities and highly rated local restaurants. The area draws in outdoor enthusiasts all year, for hiking and river rafting in the summer, and skiing/snowboarding in the winter.

Not only do they have lovely cities such as Seattle to capture on film, but also many picturesque coastal finds to charming mountain towns and rural villages. Located in the heart of Central Washington, Ellensburg is a great town with a lot to offer all types of visitors, whether they are art lovers or outdoor enthusiasts.

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Another town on the Dozen Distinctive Destinations list, Friday Harbor is a charming, historic seaport located on the east side of San Juan Island in Western Washington. Built on a hill, the area, which is a great destination for exploring by foot, is brimming with picturesque scenes at every turn from gorgeous waterfront views to the century old buildings that line the streets.

A great place for a weekend getaway, La Conner is a beautiful historic waterfront village located between Seattle and Vancouver, British Colombia, on the Swinish Channel. Guests of this charming town can visit various specialty shops, tucked inside restored historic buildings before strolling outside to take in the beauty of the village’s surroundings.

With so many things to do and explore, visit during the springtime Skagit Valley Tulip Festival where area fields burst into color, it is easy to see why La Conner is a popular destination. A popular year round tourist destination, Leavenworth is an attractive, small town nestled in the gorgeous Cascade Mountains.

No matter which season tourists visit, they will find many things to capture their interest whether sampling delicious, authentic German cuisine, participating in festivals, such as the Manifest, a Bavarian celebration of spring, or engaging in outdoor adventures, including mountain biking, skiing, and hiking. In addition to the wonderful restaurants, galleries, and shops found in Port Townsend, the town also hosts many events throughout the year, including the Victorian Festival and award-winning theatrical productions at Key City Public Theater.

Often referred to as Little Norway on the Fjord, Polls is a lovely town found on Liberty Bay in Western Washington. The historic downtown is perfect for roaming and discovering bakeries, art and craft galleries, murals and specialty shops.

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The surrounding area has lush parks where visitors can enjoy a relaxing picnic and a scenic waterfront that can be explored via kayak, canoe, or paddle boat. Visitors can meander along cobble sidewalks illuminated by old-fashioned light poles in the historic downtown area where they can eat tasty food, shop for gifts, take a walking tour of the town’s historic homes, or visit the region’s lush vineyards to sample a variety of wines.

A mining and logging town once known as Eureka Gulch, Republic is a delightful, small place with a distinct early 1900s look located in Northeast Washington. In town, guests can seek out murals or visit historic sites, including the Kaufman Cabin, built in 1896 and the oldest structure in Republic.

They may also visit the Republic Cemetery, which is believed to offer one of the most breathtaking, panoramic views found in Washington, as it overlooks the valley below, Spoil River and the Kettle Range. Stunning National Forest lands, lakes, and rivers surround the town as well offering up even more scenic beauty that one will never forget.

There is a charming downtown area with historical buildings dating back to the 1850s with shops and cafés where guests can take a leisurely stroll. Situated in the heart of Method Valley on the North Cascades Scenic Byway, Winthrop is the town to visit if travelers want to feel as though they have stepped back into the Old West.

Featuring shops, galleries, and restaurants showcasing the area’s bounty, Winthrop is also a great place to experience the scenic outdoors with many summer and winter activities, including over 120 miles of cross-country skiing trails, which are the largest in the nation. Numerous events happen throughout the year as well, including the stunning Balloon Roundup and the lively Rhythm and Blues Festival.

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From the rural Pacific coast to the snowy Cascade Mountains, and passing through verdant Evergreen woodlands, Western Washington’s heart and soul lie in its immense natural surroundings highlighted in the local communities. In just a couple of hours, you can go from deep-sea fishing on the coast to an afternoon of skiing in the nearby mountain ranges, or spend the day antique shopping and head out to a craft brewery (or authentic German Kindergarten) to brush elbows with chatty locals after dark.

The city center doles out exceptional views of the Cascades and Olympic mountains, and classic Victorian architecture is interspersed with modern brick homes; creating a fascinating juxtaposition for photographers or casual passerby. Known by locals as the jumping-off point to explore the neighboring San Juan island archipelago, the seaside village of La Conner is filled with nature and wildlife at every turn.

And it’s hard to beat meandering along the waterfront park, offering sweeping seascape vistas and a chance to spot local birds such as Trumpeter Swans and Snow Geese in their natural habitat. Classic timbered houses and typical Kindergarten line the main thoroughfare, where German specialties like pretzels, kebabs and of course, steins of beer are enjoyed year-round.

And for outdoorsy folks, Leavenworth boasts a waterfront recreation area along the Wenatchee river; where rafting and boating are the favorite summer pastimes. Known locally as the ‘Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula’, Gig Harbor is a Bayside town situated on Puget Sound between the bustling city of Seattle and the quieter, westernmost portion of the state.

A haven for boaters, cyclists and day-trippers, Gig Harbor is reachable by car or by boat: featuring a large marina showcasing breathtaking views of snow-capped Mount Rainier in the distance. Gig Harbor’s waterfront is lined with multicolored fishing cabins interspersed with enviable modern-day mansions which open up to a charming town center loaded with a variety of farm-to-table restaurants, cool bars, quaint boutiques, and plentiful parks where you can picnic, play Frisbee, or simply enjoy the views.

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Local commerce is quite varied and includes several galleries featuring Native American art, woodworking shops, knitting boutiques, as well as an up-and-coming bar scene. Famous for being the home of Penn Cove Mussels, Cookeville is an artsy waterfront village on Whitney Island which prides itself on serving up some excellent shellfish.

A stroll through the town is a favorite with visitors of all ages; pastel-colored houses and boutiques line the main streets, and local Slums bakery has launched Polls to nationwide fame with their tasty take on traditional Norwegian bread. The Naval Undersea museum pays homage to the areas’ Viking origins and will be a welcome detour for history buffs, while adventurous types can enjoy the many expansive hiking and bicycling routes near Polls.

Located just sixty miles from Seattle, and with a population of just under one thousand, Near Bay is a quiet fishing village that also holds the title of most westernmost point in the continental United States. Despite its small size, Near Bay’s picturesque setting on the verdant Make Indian Reservation and pristine sport fishing waters draw a fair number of eager fishermen and curious visitors every year.

Near Bay also comprises Saddam island whose tidal waters boast some of the country’s best scuba diving, and a chance to see creatures like the Pacific Giant Octopus. Thanks to its unforgettable feature in cult classic Twin Peaks, North Bend receives its fair share of eager fans and tourists, and you can still visit sites from the series like the Double R Diner.

Just a quick drive from Seattle on I-5, North Bend is surrounded by dense evergreen forests and mountains allowing the town itself to remain rural and quiet. For those in search of an outdoor excursion in North Bend, neighboring Rattlesnake Ridge park and majestic Mount Si both make for excellent yet challenging day hikes or climbs.

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With its history rooted in trapping, fishing, logging, and mining, the small towns in Washington act like mirrors to the wealth of their respective pasts. This small town is known for Mount Erie, where hiking and walking on its scenic trails is prime for mountain and water views.

For some maritime history of the area, head to Anacortes Wt Preston Museum, complete with a rare and historical steamboat to explore. The beautiful Bainbridge Island has found fame in recent years as being the setting for scenes from the hit American TV series Grey’s Anatomy.

Bainbridge Island is the ideal getaway for outdoor lovers, with plenty of nature to lap up in the surrounding area. Renting a bike to pedal around the town and stopping off at one of Bainbridge Island’s many chic eateries is the order of the day here.

The beautifully picturesque North Bend is dominated by the imposing figure of Mount Si. Located on Whitney Island, Cookeville sits on the south shore of Penn Cove and is the second oldest town in Washington.

Named after Thomas Coupe, who settled the island in 1850, the town is abundant with historic buildings and nature. The town’s Front Street has a distinctly old-fashioned, laid back atmosphere and is home to numerous museums, shops, and cafés, making for a perfect area to stroll around.

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Originally founded in the late 19th century as a coal mining town, Roslyn had to feature a watering hole to keep workers from going thirsty; thus, The Brick Tavern opened in the 1880s and is still going strong. The small waterfront town of Gig Harbor stretches for just a mile along a bay near Puget Sound.

Set in the shadow of majestic Mount Rainier, the town is located in proximity to many state parks and labels itself as “The Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula.” This unique climate also makes Sequin an excellent starting point for exploring some of the wettest temperate rainforests in the US (bar Alaska).

Founded in the 1880s by Jørgen Elias on, a Norwegian immigrant, Polls soon attracted waves of other Scandinavian settlers relocating from America’s Midwest. The small, quaint town of Langley is located on Whitney Island and covers a mere 0.8 square miles.

Founded in the 1800s, the town’s original bunkhouse for loggers remains today, as a museum dedicated to the history of the area. The town’s sunny waterfront and New England style architecture ha relaxed, liberal atmosphere and is home to a thriving arts community.

Notably, soon after women were given the right to vote, Langley elected its first female Mayor; its liberal attitude led it to become home to a vibrant hippie community during the 1960s and ‘70s. This laid back lifestyle lives on; now Langley’s lanes are home to studios and galleries displaying local arts.

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After seeing the success of the Danish-themed town of Solving, California in 1965, Leavenworth became a popular tourist destination soon afterward, when it was rebranded and modeled on a Bavarian village. The officially designated Port Townsend Historic District is packed full of beautiful buildings, from the impressive County Courthouse to the picture-perfect St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, built in 1865.

For even more history, and a slice of natural beauty, head to the 1879 Point Wilson Lighthouse, which is also the place to go for scenic views overlooking Puget Sound. Officially dating back only to 1924, the town of Winthrop originally grew when gold was found in the late 19th century, prompting many a white settler to move here permanently to find their fortune.

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3 inside.ewu.edu - https://inside.ewu.edu/news/featured/the-new-turf-is-here-and-its-incredible/
4 inside.ewu.edu - https://inside.ewu.edu/recreationfacilities/sports-and-recreation-center/fieldhouse-2/
5 www.ewu.edu - https://www.ewu.edu/
6 inside.ewu.edu - https://inside.ewu.edu/education/office-of-field-experience/
7 www.ewu.edu - https://www.ewu.edu/css/psychology/counseling-field-experience/
8 www.campusexplorer.com - https://www.campusexplorer.com/colleges/B1B5B54C/Washington/Cheney/Eastern-Washington-University/academics/
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11 news.cahnrs.wsu.edu - http://news.cahnrs.wsu.edu/article/june-26-crop-improvements-for-eastern-washington-new-building-dedication-at-wsus-wilke-farm-field-day/