Looking for a quick ski trip close to Seattle? Steven’s Pass is a favorite among local and visitors alike. While I’m not sure I’d recommend visiting the slopes on New Years weekend, we found plenty to do without waiting in lift lines. Picturesque snowy landscapes, an adventurous hike, snowmobiling, and a quaint town await in Plain, Washington.
For a small town smack dab in the middle of Washington, you’d expect it hard to find something to do and see. Yet, again Washington reminds we that even the smallest of towns have the grandest of charm. For New Years weekend, we opted to welcome in 2016 with some time in the snow along Route 2. We rented a cabin in Index, Washington, an even smaller town, that’s close to some of the most amazing hikes such as: Lake Serene & Bridal Veil Falls, Index Town Wall, and Heybrook Lookout.
We didn’t attempt to conquer any of those during our vacation, but we did spend a bit of New Years Day roaming around Deception Falls Interpretive Trail in Skykomish. Though the loop is under 1 mile, it took us about an hour in the fresh snow. The bridges, rushing waters, and snowy meadows made for a fun, albeit treacherous at times, short hike. It starts at what appears to be a small rest station, but within minutes of walking downward you’re away from traffic and into nature. Perfect if you’ve just spent the night finishing off a few bottles of champagne and aren’t ready for a difficult hike.
The following day our friends made their way to Steven’s Pass (traffic on the holidays can be crazy so have the car gassed up and ready to wait a while if necessary) while we headed to Mountain Springs Lodge on our own adventure. We called ahead to reserve a spot in a 1-hour snowmobile tour. The staff were just as friendly in person as they were on the phone. We arrived at the lodge early, so we explored the small gift shop, had a coffee in the cabin, and looked around. Mountain Springs also offers sleigh rides (which people spoke highly of), skiing, and some summertime activities too—horseback riding, rafting, and zip lining.
We brought our own snow gear, but the lodge offered suits and gloves for anyone without. We got our helmets and headed out to where the snowmobiles were parked. We got lucky with just 2 other people on our tour—another couple our age. Our guide was very instructive and helpful, and got us to 2 viewpoints within our hours slot. The hour ride was perfect for beginners like ourselves, and now we’d feel much more prepared to do a day rental. Mountain Springs, we’ll be back!
After our adventure, we headed back 10 minutes into town. Plain, WA is a cute community nestled among the frosted trees. Might I mention, some of the most beautiful snowy trees I may have ever seen. First stop? The winery. Plain Cellars is just next to “downtown,” and within walking distance. It’s a modern little oasis, with about 10 seats at the bar and a few bar tables for tasting. We tasted 5 reds, all delicious, and settled on the Summer Solstice Red to take home. It was a Cabernet Sauvignon -Syrah blend they created for their daughters wedding in the San Jaun’s. I was a fan.
When one of the owners named Roxanne suggested that I, not my male partner, check out Plain Hardwear I expected to find a flurry of pink things. On the contrary, the hardwear store is fun for everyone. After our tasting we headed into town to check out the store. They have classic aisles of hardwear, snow shovels (and sleds if you’re in the market) as well as snowshoe and ski rentals. They also have a wonderful shop up front with souvenirs and kitschy gifts for all ages. We got a few kick-knacks, like the good tourists we are.
We took a quick drive to Leavenworth for a late lunch. The place was packed, but we were able to find a spot at the bar at the Bavarian Bistro & Bar. We left just as the lights came on, and they were worth the wait. Beautiful!
Our last-minute New Years staycation ended up being a memorable one. I’d recommend the Index-Stevens-Plain-Leavenworth route to fellow winter vacationers and visitors looking for a range of snowy views, adventure sports, and holiday cheer.