Crossing through the dry and rugged terrain of the eastern most portion of Washington, the pleasant surprise of the forest campground of Swauk could not have come at a better time.
Just after the rolling hills met the forested tree line this quaint campground welcomed me to the Washington I had wished to find on my adventures. It was a first taste of the glory of the Pacific Northwest and a perfect way to find the solitude and beauty of the land during late fall.
Pulling into Swauk you first will find a recreation area where cross country skiing is permitted during the winter months and during summer months families can enjoy horse shoe pits, picnic and barbecue areas. Parking here is plentiful and invites you to enjoy the land in its entirety.
I noticed a small trail behind a shelter area and followed it to the gentle moving stream which passed throughout the back of not only the recreation area but also the camp. Here you could truly get a glimpse of the beauty and wonder of the trees opening up and increasing in size, the ferns growing wild and abundantly and the pine needles lining the forest floor creating a barrier which seems to trap sound and create a hush over the entire area.
The shelter when I had passed housed a large fire place and additional picnic tables making this a perfect location for those chilly nights you find in the forest.
Just beyond the recreation area the campground welcomes campers with large sites and plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a day, a weekend or a week. A self service pay station is located at the entrance to this portion. Single sites are $18 while doubles are $36, envelops are available alongside other rules and regulations for the campground.
Once you have secured your campsite at this location you will place your tag on the site itself in a small plastic placard located at the entrance of each site to signify it is taken. this allows you to navigate away from the campground to explore the forest and the many areas of interest near the Cascade Loop or the Gingko Forest.
Vault toilets can be found in two locations, one at the mid point of camp and the other at the entrance and provide facilities, however no running water is available at these sites. Running water can be found in the recreation area however if it is needed. You will want to make sure you are able to sustain without power however because that is not available at any portion of the campground.
This site overall is a great way to enjoy Washington and I found that visiting was an unexpected treat. To visit the facilities make sure you understand that this is not a State facility thus the Discover Pass is not accepted. Instead you will want to make sure you display a National Park Pass, as this is a site maintained by the Forest Service, though I will say no one was there to check it and there was no clear signage to mark this.
Bring your own firewood. There are signs posted throughout camp mentioning that you cannot cut trees in the area for any reason. There is no firewood station at this campground either so if you are planning on having a fire make sure you come prepared.
Because this site is a part of the Forest Service there are also signs posted about saving the vegetation. This means you will want to park only in the areas that are marked clearly. If you have a rig which does not fit within the bounds, consider another site at the campground.
If you need supplies you will want to find them in the larger cities or towns along the way. When I was here I noticed there are very few stops which provide basic essentials for many miles.