Doggone Getaway: Salish Lodge
Hope springs eternal and eternity is what it felt like, as we hoped and waited for Salish Lodge to someday be dog friendly. Thankfully, the wait is over and the lodge now invites you and your four legged friend to enjoy everything this Northwest icon has to offer. Written by Brandie Ahlgren; photography by J. Nichole Smith
For the very first time, dogs of all sizes are welcome to indulge in the Salish experience. And, indulge, indeed. Located just 30 miles from Seattle, the Salish Lodge is a destination in itself. Perched above the spectacular, 268 feet high Snoqualmie Falls, the 66,000 square-foot lodge features 89 guest rooms, nine meeting spaces, two restaurants and a full-service spa. Upon arrival, Scout (my seven-year-old boxer and travel companion on this visit) and I are warmly greeted by the Salish staff. As we wait to check-in, Scout soaks in her share of attention from fellow guests as I relax in the lodge’s cozy and inviting lobby, complete with over-stuffed leather chairs and wood burning fireplace.
Once at our room, we find food and water bowls for Scout, along with freshly baked signature Salish biscuits from Seattle pet store, Three Dog Bakery, which Scout devours immediately. Instead of racing off to see the falls, I elect instead to sink back into the luxurious featherbedcomplete with 320 thread count linens and 16 varieties of pillows to choose fromto relax and perhaps enjoy a little Salish-induced snooze before dinner.
However, hunger strikes early, so I head to the lodge’s Attic Lounge, which features happy hour Monday through Friday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The menu is quite extensive and the prices surprisingly cheap. I opt for the Country Burger, with tomato, onions and lettuce on house-baked brioche, topped with gruyere cheese. Delicious. Whether you’re looking for a light snack, a glass of wine from the lounge’s wide-ranging selection, or a place to enjoy a favorite cocktail, the Attic is the perfect place to kick back, while taking in the breathtaking views of the Snoqualmie Valley.
While you imbibe, your furry friend can also indulge with selections from the Canine Cuisine In-Room Dining Menu. Prepared in-house by the lodge’s own dining staff, menu items include gourmet specialties such as “The Beef Lover” (mixed beef tenderloin and sirloin, white rice, turnips and veal gravy for $9), “The Bird Dog” (chicken, pheasant, parsnips, spinach and chicken stock for $9) or the “Canine Country Breakfast,” a delicious combination of three eggs, chicken, rice and vegetables, complete with warm milk and a fresh biscuit ($11). Lighter fare includes after dinner treats of roasted bones for big dogs and braised oxtail for small dogs ($4).
Speaking of dinner, the Salish Lodge is famous for its cuisine and executive chef Justin Sledge does not disappoint. I start my meal with a glass of Dusted Valley cabernet from Washington’s Columbia Valley, paired with the Salish Arugula Caesar made with organic baby arugula, parmesan crisp, Spanish anchovies, black pepper grissini and hard poached quail eggs. This is followed by a pear burgundy sorbet accompanied by thinly sliced apple, blueberries, mandarin and strawberry to cleanse the pallet or as the host puts it, “to tickle the tastebuds.” For my main course, it’s none other than the Huckleberry Braised Kobe Short Ribs, with chickpea fries, butternut squash, winter savory and preserved Cascade huckleberries in a natural au jus. All of this is topped off with a praline torte accompanied by French pressed Ethiopian coffee. If you really want to go all out for dessert, one item on the menu caught my eye: ”World Chocolateinspiration from a single theme, luscious and exotic for the choco-gourmet.” Oh my! To view the Lodge's extensive dinner menu, click here.
Tomorrow, Scout and I will work off our indulgences on a hike, but tonight it’s time for a little morethe Salish is all about indulgence afterall. In fact, each room features its own wood burning fireplace, oversized whirlpool tub, luxurious, lavender-scented bath soaps, and big, soft, terry cloth bathrobes. Pour a glass of Snoqualmie 2006 Merlot from the honor bar and enjoy a soak in the tub, while listening to the crackling fireit does not get much more indulgent than that!
As a new day dawns, it is definitely time to hit the trails and fortunately the lodge staff has provided us with a list of nearby, dog friendly hikes. Nestled at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, the Salish is set in the perfect playground for any outdoor enthusiast.
I opt to take Scout to Twin Falls State Park in nearby North Bend. The trail extends 1.25 miles to Twin Falls. Just before the first footbridge, steps descend to a breathtaking viewpoint of the lower fall and just past the footbridge is another viewpoint of the upper falls. The trail continues one more mile beyond the falls to connect with the old Milwaukee Railroad trail in Iron Horse State Park.
To get to Twin Falls State Park from the lodge, travel east on I-90 to Exit 34. Turn right off the exit onto Edgewick Road. After half a mile, turn left onto SE 159th St. The road ends at the Twin Falls trail head.
Another popular hike is traversing the switchbacks to reach Rattlesnake Ledge. The 1700’ vertical climb is over two miles and will certainly raise the heart rate, human and canine alike. Once you reach the top, be extremely careful, as the ledge is 400 to 500 feet down on three sides. All of this information and more is provided by the Salish Lodge in a Dog Friendly Information Guide given to you at check-in. It also includes a list of local pet clinics in case of an emergency, as well as area pet stores, pet spas and dog sitters.
And believe it or not, a dog sitter may come in handy. As I mentioned earlier, the Salish Lodge is a destination in itself. However, with five golf courses nearby plus guided biking trips, fly fishing, kayaking and white water raftingyou may want to venture out for an afternoon sans pooch. In the winter months, you can opt for a guided cross country skiing adventure, snowshoeing, snow mobiling and something called “Cat Skiing” (no, felines are not involved). Travel up Stevens Pass in your own private Cat with access to over 2,000 acres of private backcountry, then ski back down in fresh powder with experienced guides.
Back at the lodge, Scout and I take a stroll along the heather-lined path to take in the stunning view of 268-feet high Snoqualmie Falls (100 feet higher than Niagra Falls). We can only go as far as the edge of the lodge’s property, because the observation platformowned and maintained by Puget Sound Energydoes not allow dogs. If you decide to explore the two-acre park without the pooch, it’s an enjoyable half-mile (one mile round-trip) hike along the River Trail, through trees and open slopes, ending with a beautiful view from the base of the falls.
As the morning draws to a close, I can tell Scout is in need of a nap, so while she’s down for the count, it’s the perfect opportunity for me to check out the spa. The renowned Salish Spa features a eucalyptus steam room, dry sauna and therapeutic soaking poolsand the menu of treatments is seemingly endless: there are several different massages to choose from including the Salish Signature Heated River Rock Massage, a variety of facials, and something called the “Earth Cocoon,” which is apparently a “soothing purification treatment where warm, mineral-rich mud is applied from neck to toe and the body is gently wrapped for detoxification and nutrient absorption.”
Alas, I will have to save any spa treatments for my next visit as it’s time to hit the road and head back to Seattle.
As I mentioned before, thankfully the wait is over and the Salish Lodge is dog friendly, because Scout and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay. And, just 30 miles from Seattle, it’s an easy weekend getaway for locals and visitors alike. To get there, simply take I-90 East to exit #25. Turn left and follow Highway 18/Snoqualmie Parkway 3.5 miles through the residential development, Snoqualmie Ridge, unitl it ends at the traffic light on Railroad Avenue SE. Turn left and about a 1/4 mile on the left is Salish Lodge.
For more information and reservations, visit salishlodge.com.