Fun Summer Activities To Try In The Foothills

The Foothills in Washington State is one of the top trails to checkout when you’re next in WA. It may be the middle of winter at the time of writing, but I’m already starting to plan my summer fun in the Foothills. From hikers, to campers, lovers of water activities and those that simply need a peaceful moment to reflect, Foothills attracts thousands of diverse people across all seasons, but especially in the summer when there is an abundance of fun activities. If you have never been, then I urge you to schedule a trip next summer. Many come armed with their high-end hiking and fitness gear ready for a full blown workout, but don’t be fooled, the Foothills have activities for all fitness levels. The main trail rises slowly upwards, gaining 400 feet in elevation over some 15 miles.

The long slog is well worth it when some of the main attractions start appearing in the distance. First, the Carbon River, then the Cascade Range, farmland, a forest, abandoned railway, untouched pavement, gravel driveway, produce market and finally onto some smaller rivers and creeks. Every time I come here I start to feel like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Even though there are many others enjoying the Foohills, such as other hikers, campers and bikers, I never get the feeling of it being overcrowded and potentially ruining the serenity.  So here they are, some of my favorite activities to make the most of summer in the Foothills.


Whether you love hiking or not, the trail will simply remind you that life is one big adventure. The vibe is accommodating for everyone. You will find moms and dads pushing strollers, folks stretching their legs, enthusiasts ready with their bikes and even pet lovers exercising their dog(s). The trail passes many scenic beauties and there are plenty of well catered resting spots where you can grab a snack, take a rest under a tree or simply lie down close to the river. The enormous volcanic mountain also gives you a calming sense of staying in tune with nature. TrailLink has incredible offers for hikers.


This is my favorite part where you paddle a canoe along the stretch of Carbon River. You can even invite others for a contest paddle to make things more fun. If water activities are your jam, then you can also go kayaking, boating and parasailing around Kirkland and explore Lake Washington for some awesome water borne fun. In Foothills, a guided tour to the Kittitas Valley will expose you to five different rivers where you can fish, canoe and take amazing pictures.

Paddle Boarding

Paddle boarding is loads of fun, particularly with large groups. I often see groups of “SUPers” and numerous solo paddlers on the river. This is easily one of my favorite ways to spend a relaxing or strenuous few hours, depending on my mood and how far I’ve already hiked. You can hire paddle boards on site, or bring your own – if you’ve opted for an inflatable paddle board that can fold up into a backpack ready for your hike. Once I had my coffee break (one of the best espresso experiences of my life) at the Trailside Connections coffee kiosk, I hit the five river route where I found dozens ready for paddle boarding while others were being taught how to fly-fish. You can enroll for such classes to go back home with a new skill, something I plan to do on my next visit.


The trail offers several native creeks and its rivers stretch beyond Foothills. One particular fishing spot is the region outside Orting which gives a beautiful view of Mt. Rainer and you can catch some large salmons. If you like, you can ride 3 miles ahead to Carbon River which also has an entrance to Mt. Rainer National Park. When it comes to fishing, Ellensburg Angler is your best bid as they take you to 5 different rivers to have you fun.


When you visit a destination as scenic as Foothills trail, you cannot help but feel the need to stay a couple more days in the area. From the many creeks and riverbanks, to the tall Mt. Rainer and deep forests, you even have a “Proceed at your own risk” sign at Cascade Junction to make things more adventurous. However, this is only placed since the trail that goes ahead is only accessible via a slim path that is frequently flooded, and not because of any real threat. The abandoned railroads and untouched pavements makes you feel like you can make a movie there. It is simply exhilarating and weather friendly during the summer.


Foothills trail passes through the eastern communities from Kirkland corridors (I-90 and I-405) to Renton Island, Mercer and Ellensburg. There are probably a hundred more fun activities you will find as the surrounding region is home to numerous art museums, upscale restaurants and eateries, wineries, state parks, river parks to name just a few. Whilst I’m confident you’ll enjoy more than just 5 summer activities in the Foothills, I hope you use these as a launching pad. Feel free to watch the short recap video below to see how people have enjoyed their summer camp at Foothills.

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