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#195657 - 06/04/16 06:11 PM Transportation from airport to mountains?
Photog Rob Offline

Registered: 06/04/16
Posts: 2
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
My first post here, but it is an important one for me.

For those of you who fly to your hiking destinations, what means of transportation do you use to get from the airport to the mountains?

If I was planning a trip of only a week, then I would spring for the rental car. However, I am planning a trip to the North Cascades of Washington for three weeks to include a six day trip and then numerous shorter trips in the mountains as well as along the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. The least expensive rental car option so far is around $1300! Are there used cars available for rent? I used to rent from a company called "Ugly Duckling" many years ago when I was visiting Oklahoma City from time to time.

Besides the cost, I am concerned about the rental car being broken into while I am gone. Does this happen often or is not something to be seriously concerned about? I plan to take pretty much only what I need while hiking and camping, but there is still the possibility of the car being broken into and damaged even if I put a note in the window stating that there is nothing to steal.

What other options might there be? In areas like this that are frequented by distant travelers, is there some sort of network of drivers for hire? Of course, that also leads to questioning whether Uber or Lyft operate between Seattle Airport and the mountains.

One more thought that I will toss out there: Anybody want to be my part time chauffeur?

Thanks ahead of time for your feedback!


#195660 - 06/04/16 09:22 PM Re: Transportation from airport to mountains? [Re: Photog Rob]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6799
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Public transportation in the Northwest (as elsewhere) is not at all helpful for the hiker or backpacker. There are some ways to get into the mountains, but they are few and far between and generally involve a lot of changes on small local bus lines. The one exception is Trailways which, I understand, will stop on request at Stevens Pass where you can access the Pacific Crest Trail. (No, there is no equivalent bus stop at Snoqualmie Pass--Greyhound stopped doing request stops years ago, unfortunate because the Stevens/Snoqualmie section of the PCT is one of the more spectacular.) By putting together a number of small local bus lines, you can, slowly, circle the Olympic Peninsula on US 101, but US 101 is a long, long way from any Olympic NP trailheads. Trying to incorporate public transit into any hike is both time consuming and very, very limiting.

It is possible to access part ot North Cascades National Park at Stehekin by taking Trailways from Seattle to Wenatchee, a local bus to Chelan, and the ferry up Lake Chelan to Stehekin. (The ferry ride is awesome and so, in a different way, is the Stehekin Bakery.) This might be one possibility. Or you can start at Stevens Pass (see above) and hike one of the wildest sections of the PCT from there to Stehekin.

There at least used to be a section on the Washington Trails Association website on hikes with trailheads available by bus. There's also a similar section in the Field Guide on

Check out Rent a Wreck for used car rental. Be sure to watch for restrictions in the contract. Most trailheads are not on paved roads. It seems to me that with the fairly large number of hikes and locations, a rental car is your only option

Car prowl can be a problem, especially at trailheads close to main highways such as I-90 and I-84. Definitely leave nothing (of value or otherwise) in the car!

The torums at (Portland area and SW Washington) and (Seattle area), might be of help,

Also, it would be helpful to know at what time of year you plan this trip. Mid July through mid-Septe,her is the optimal time to avoid snow on the trails.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#195668 - 06/05/16 09:31 AM Re: Transportation from airport to mountains? [Re: OregonMouse]
Photog Rob Offline

Registered: 06/04/16
Posts: 2
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
OregonMouse....thank you very much for your comprehensive reply.

I checked Rent-A-Wreck and their prices were the same as the first tier rental car companies. However, (and here's a tip) somebody replied to my similar post on a backpack group on Facebook and suggested that I try Turo. Bingo!!! It is an app/website that appears to be the "Uber of rental cars" in that they organize and connect people willing to rent their vehicles to people needing a more economical option rather than going through large companies. The rental cars are even insured by Turo. I found several options including a Ford F150 (not that that's my choice) for $17-$23 per day. It looks like the mileage is limited and set by individual car owners, but I won't be putting a lot of mileage on it anyway (hopefully, I'll put more miles on my boots than the car).

I like your suggestion for your described transportation links to Stehekin and the variety that a ferry ride provides. Of course, if I go there I will check out the bakery.

I haven't decided, exactly, where I plan to go although I know what I am looking for. I am a photographer and I would like to experience the wildflowers, alpine lakes with the good early morning or early evening light, vast vistas of peaks shot almost at their elevation, and the feeling (at least part of the time) that I am waaaay out there. The top of my list includes Sahale Arm, Maple Pass and Lake Ann area, Rainy Pass. I don't have all of the other names memorized but, generally, some the higher areas of the PCT east of Ross Lake, possibly Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass. I still have a lot of research to do before I determine my final itinerary.

I will check out those other local forums that you suggested.

So far, my dates are August 2-23 so I suppose that I won't have much problem with snow on the trails.

Thanks again!

#195702 - 06/08/16 01:07 PM Re: Transportation from airport to mountains? [Re: Photog Rob]
ndsol Offline

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 678
Loc: Houston, Texas
I also like to focus on photography when I am out on the trail. Here is a photo on the trail to Cascade Pass from 2014:

I am leading our Scout High Adventure Group to the North Cascades to backpack next month. We will fly into Seattle and rent vehicles as we have done in the past.

Since there are 12 of us, we will have to be flexible since permits in the NP can't be pulled prior to the day prior to starting. Our group will split up to some degree and we are looking at Sahale Glacier, Pelton Basin and Basin Creek to get us into Horseshoe Basin.

If it doesn't work out, our alternative outside the NP is Cutthroat Pass with some going on to Hart's Pass. That would start at either Rainy Pass or Cutthroat Lake trailhead.

One time my backpacking partner and I were going to the northwest area of Glacier NP. As we only had one vehicle, we needed to work out a way to get from Kintla Lake trailhead to Bowman Lake trailhead. It turned out that I found another group that was doing a similar trip and was having the same issue. Their second day on the trail was going to be our second to last. So we met them on the trail, they gave us their car keys and we took their car back to the trailhead where our car was parked, which is where they would be completing their trip.


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