Our adventure begins in Seattle at about 2:30 p.m. (traffic in Seattle is always an adventure), arriving at Wild Wilderness Lodge by 4 p.m., just before sunset. The drive is easy—most of it east on Hwy 2, a winding, two-lane road that is part of the Cascade Scenic Loop Highway. Wild Wilderness Lodge is located near the tiny town of Index, in the West Cascade foothills. (If you continue further east on Hwy 2, Stevens Pass is just 25 miles away and Leavenworth 65 miles.)
Our first order of business upon arrival is to release the hounds on the property’s 10.5 acres to burn off some energy. And, burn they do. The property is almost completely fenced, allowing for worry-free, off-leash full throttle run time. With new sights and smells to discover—and a wide-open grassy area for a game of high-speed chase—it doesn’t take long for Scout and Ziggy to tire them selves out.
The next order of business is to put our fire building skills to the test in the cabin’s wood burning stove. It’s not the cabin’s only source of heat, but it does generate enough warmth to heat the spacious living area, creating a cozy environment. With the dogs tuckered out and the fire stoked, we move on to dinner. The cabin’s kitchen is fully stocked with dishware, pots and pans, state-of-the-art appliances—everything you need to whip up a delicious meal except the food. There are a few staples, but if you plan to eat in, some meal planning and grocery shopping will be necessary ahead of time. For us, it’s stuffed chicken with wild rice and a salad accompanied by a glass of 2007 Murray Cuvee, a delicious, lighter bodied table wine made in Washington.
After dinner, we explore the spacious, dome-shaped Wild Wilderness Lodge, discovering there are three stories, three bathrooms, three bedrooms including a loft area, a two-car garage (complete with ping-pong table), and an outdoor sauna and hot tub. There is also a dog door, conveniently located off the kitchen—along with another one just off the garage—both with access to a fenced dog run and potty area to prevent late night roaming. On the main level, it’s an open floor plan, with easy-to-clean cork floors in case of spills or accidents (new territory, new smells…face it, accidents can happen). It’s worth noting that cell service is spotty, but going off the grid is what a cabin retreat is all about, right?
Waking early the next day, we decide to venture off the compound and explore the nearby town of Index, located within walking distance from Wild Wilderness Lodge. If you enjoy a quiet, rustic setting, with zero hustle and bustle, then Index is for you. Located a mile off the main highway, this tiny enclave lacks the commercialism of the larger nearby towns of Sultan and Gold Bar and provides quick access to hiking, climbing and other adventures in the Cascades. Strolling through town with dogs in tow, we barely see another soul. There is a small family-owned grocery store—aptly named The General Store—for basics and even some homemade items. There is also a museum, a town hall, a fire department and a church—none of which seemed to be open at the time. Index feels a bit like stepping back in time—and really, not much has changed since the early 1900s. Surrounded by beautiful, steep, usually snow-covered peaks, Index offers incredible views from all parts of town. It is bordered on the North by one of Washington’s greatest rock climbing walls, and South by the sparkling North Fork Skykomish River. And, Mt. Index juts 5,000 feet from the valley floor. The BNSF railroad runs through the middle of town and you can hear the train whistle and slowly rumble by from the lodge.
It takes us just 20 minutes to stroll through the entire town, so we decide to hop in the car and head to Bridal Veil Falls for a hike with the hounds. Hiking boots are a must this time of year—the trail is muddy and slippery, so watch your step, particularly when you cross over the creek (pictured to the left) on a rickety, wood-plank bridge. Here, Fergie stops to splash in the stream, while mom Jamie snaps some photos. The trail continues up the creek valley through great alders, birches and pines. Warning: The last half-mile of the hike is stairs, but the breathtaking (literally) views at the top are worth it. Bridal Veil Falls is a gigantic, billowing waterfall plunging over huge granite cliffs. If you still have some energy left, continue on to Lake Serene—another beautiful destination, with stunning views of Mount Index towering above. In all, it’s about a seven-mile hike including the side-trip to Bridal Veil Falls. Short enough to do in a day, but long enough to seriously tire out even the most intrepid pooches.
More nearby hikes to consider are Barclay Lake and Heybrook Tower. Barclay Lake is an easy four-mile hike, just a few minutes away from the lodge. Heybrook Tower is another popular and easy hike, with an old fire lookout tower with great views—also a short distance from Wild Wilderness Lodge.
Only an hour-and-a-half drive from Seattle, this region of Washington feels worlds away. With nature literally at your doorstep, year-round outdoor activities abound. Summer activities include rock climbing, river rafting, hiking and mountain biking. Winter activities include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Before setting out on skis or snowshoes, check with a ranger station first for any avalanche dangers. Our activity of choice: taking advantage of the sauna and hot tub back at the cabin!
With the pooches dog-tired, we take a soak in the hot tub then kick back for another relaxing evening. For entertainment, there is a small selection of DVD’s and a TV/DVD player. Or, there is the aforementioned ping-pong table. There’s also a large table in the dining area, perfect for setting up a game of Scrabble or Taboo.
Whether you opt for a full-on outdoor adventure or a relaxing winter getaway, Wild Wilderness Lodge offers it all. So, load up the entire family (the lodge sleeps up to 14, afterall) and hit the highway with your hounds. Smaller group? Mysty Mountain Properties has 14 cabins that sleep anywhere from two people up to 14. And, most importantly, 13 of the properties are pooch friendly!
Mysty Mountain Properties