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    Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    Hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    Region in Washington State, United States

    There are more miles to cover in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest than you could do in one trip, but don’t let the variety overwhelm you. Choosing the perfect adventures in this gorgeous region is easy with our extensive collection of route guides. Take easy lakeside walks, watching the reflections of the mountains quiver in the surface. Summit sky-high glaciated peaks, looking into the craters of still-active volcanoes. Hike through underground tunnels created by lava flow. Toss on your pack and lose yourself in the woods for a week, or take advantage of easy trails to introduce your kids to the outdoors. There’s something for everyone here.

    A perk of hiking in Washington is the impressive number of backcountry camping spots scattered throughout the state. Toss on your pack to make a weekend of it! Many trails are also great for mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, or other outdoor activities. The sky’s the limit in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

    15 Amazing Hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    Ready to start exploring? We’re making it easy to get going with 15 of our favorite hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Our list includes short, laidback trails to intense treks and everything in between. Take a quick day hike or plan a longer backpacking adventure, getting away for the weekend or for as long as you like. What stays consistent? The natural beauty of the forest all around you, from the quiet mountaintops to the shimmering Columbia River.

    Our top hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are chosen to give you an idea of what makes this region so great to explore. While starting with these 15 hikes is a great way to experience the forest, remember that we’ve got many, many more route guides in the forest and Washington in general if you want to keep going.

    • High Rock Trail - High Rock is high, indeed. This viewpoint rises high above the surrounding South Cascades, giving you the best view you can find in the area! The views are truly panoramic and the trail to reach them isn’t that difficult. At 5.1 km in length and with moderate elevation gain, it’s a suitable trek for most skill levels and for active families.
    • Hidden Falls via Tarbell Trail - Hidden Falls via Tarbell Trail is a moderate hike that features beautiful waterfalls, and longer adventures on the Tarbell Trail can take you very far and through changing scenery. In this section, you’ll explore a very lush forest, check out multiple waterfalls, and stroll through clear-cut areas that open up your view.
    • Ape Caves Trail - The Ape Caves Trail takes you into a lava tube discovered in 1951, created by an eruption of nearby Mount St. Helens. At 4.0 km long, this trail is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States and the third-longest lava tube in North America. Nearly 200,000 people hike through the tube each year, making this a very popular trail.
    • Mount Adams South Climb - The Mount Adams South Climb is the least technical approach to Mount Adams’ summit, leading you to the top over the course of 17.5 km and over 2,042 m of elevation gain. While this is the least challenging way up Mount Adams, it’s still best taken on by experienced adventurers with the proper gear and a healthy dose of gumption.
    • Panther Creek Falls - Panther Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall that cascades over a mossy slope. The hike to the viewpoint for the falls is extremely easy and quick, making it possible to enjoy for most adventurers. There’s a nice viewing deck for the falls that you can take advantage of.
    • Lewis River Falls Trail - Lewis River Falls Trail is a delightful hike in every way. The trail is in great condition, the scenery is immaculate, and despite the heavy traffic, visiting on a weekday or early morning/late afternoon can score you some solitude. There are also multiple access points for this route to shorten or lengthen it.
    • Dog Mountain Trail - Dog Mountain Trail is one of the most sought-after hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. This 10.5 km loop trek is considered hard, with a straight-up stair stepper climb required. However, the changing scenery and plant life make for a very enjoyable trip well worth the crowds. The hike begins with temperate and high-desert flora, but it changes to a cool rainforest and then ends in flower-filled meadows with mountain views.
    • Beacon Rock Trail - Beacon Rock Trail takes you through Beacon Rock State Park to a fantastic viewpoint over the Columbia River Gorge. This 2.4 km out and back route is less of a hike in the classic sense and more of a pleasant walk with a gentle, consistent incline. The route is paved or on a boardwalk, making it a nice choice for those who prefer even footing.
    • Mount Saint Helens Summit via Monitor Ridge Trail - The view from Mount Saint Helens is very impressive, and it should be on the bucket list of every campable adventurer. The Monitor Ridge approach is challenging, but it requires no technical climbing skills. Take on a big adventure and earn the chance to gaze down into the glaciated crater of the volcano.
    • Johnston Ridge Observatory Trail - Not quite ready to climb Mount Saint Helens? Admire it from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. This very quick and simple walk takes you through the observatory over a 0.8 km with almost no elevation gain. Part of the trail is wheelchair accessible and the entire path is very family-friendly.
    • Three Corner Rock - Three Corner Rock is a unique rock formation atop a hill that overlooks Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and Mount Saint Helens. It’s a moderate hike, but the views are what you’d expect of a much more intensive trek. On a clear day, this is a totally camera-worthy viewpoint!
    • Moulton Falls - The hike to Moulton Falls on Lewis River Trail is an easy hike suitable for all skill levels and ages. You’ll hike along a mossy cliff with the river flowing beside you, having the chance to relax at viewpoints and benches on the way. It’s peaceful but also offers the chance to adventure a little if you take side trails to Big Tree Falls or up the Bells Mountain Trail.
    • Takhlakh Lake and Meadows Trail - The 5.3 km loop hike around Takhlakh Lake and the Takh Takh Meadows is a unique hike in the best ways. The highlight of the trek is a climb up an old lava flow for views of Mount Rainier, a uniquely southwestern Washington experience. The hike doesn’t tend to be very busy despite its fantastic views.
    • Ape Canyon Trail - Ape Canyon Trail is well worth the effort it might require! This hike takes you through a wonderful section of old-growth forest (one of the few remaining stands near Mount Saint Helens) atop a butte with great views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams.
    • Spirit Falls Trail - Spirit Falls is a stunning spot. The falls are tucked into the forest off the beaten path, hidden in the moss of the trees until you’re right in front of them. The falls are stellar in the warmer months, but they’re especially impressive when they’re surrounded by crystalline white in the winter.

    Scroll down to see the full list of hiking trails in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

    When is the Best Time to Hike in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    Gifford Pinchot National Forest generally experiences warm, mild summers and cool winters with lots of precipitation. While you should be prepared for rain any time of the year, visiting in the summer months of July and August tend to give the warmest, driest weather. Shoulder season (spring and fall) can bring heavier rain and snow, and winter tends to be snowy and cold.

    While the summer months offer the best weather, they do also bring the heaviest crowds. If you’re okay with occasionally cooler or wetter conditions, visiting in June or mid-September can give you more privacy on the trails while still offering suitable hiking weather. If you’re hiking to enjoy golden larches, visits in late September and early October are usually best.

    Other Outdoor Activities in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    While the trails are excellent, hiking is not the only way to explore the Gifford Pinchot National Forest! This region boasts plenty of space for other outdoor activities.

    Adventurers on two wheels can take advantage of the many mountain bike and dirt bike paths. Those with four-legged friends can explore horse and dog-friendly trails. Fishers will find lakes stocked with trout, and campers will be able to choose from many sites. Many hiking paths can be extended for backpacking trips thanks to the ease of backcountry camping in the forest. In the winter, skiers, snowshoers, mushers, sledders, and snowmobilers can make use of the region’s snowfall.

    How to Plan a Trip to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    A trip to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a worthwhile venture, but you’ll want to put enough time and energy into planning to make sure your trip runs the way you want it to. You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass for many trails in the park, and some require a Discover Pass. If you plan on camping, make sure you plan out your campsites beforehand and check which ones are walk-up and which require advance booking.

    Some popular trails have limited parking available, so try to plan your busiest hikes as early in the day as you can. Additionally, the forest roads that service many trailheads are subject to potholes and poor conditions. Planning to have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle for your time in the park is essential if you want to hike trails serviced by certain forest roads.

    Gifford Pinchot National Forest Adventure Tours

    Some of us love trip planning and some of us just… don’t. Take the stress out of your trip with an excerpt-planned adventure tour, letting you let go and focus on the fun stuff. Check out some incredible adventure tours in the Pacific Northwest.

    Frequently Asked Questions About the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    Can you hike in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest?

    Of course! There are lots and lots of trails worth exploring in the forest, and hopefully this guide can help you start your hiking adventures.

    Are there bears in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest?

    Yes, there are bears in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Be bear aware and practice bear safety while you visit.

    What kinds of animals are in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest?

    Some of the animals that live in the forest are deer, elk, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, birds of prey, salmon, and many more.

    Where is Gifford Pinchot National Forest?

    Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located in Southwestern Washington State, USA.

    Explore other great hiking regions in Washington State:

    Or check out other amazing hiking regions in the United States.

    View Hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on Map

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    Best Hikes in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

    Showing 41 to 60 of 82
      Open details for Blue Lake Hike Indian Heaven Wilderness

      Blue Lake Hike Indian Heaven Wilderness

      Moderate
      20.1 km
      665 m
      5.5-7.5h

      Indian Heaven Wilderness is an excellent hiking destination, with countless wildflowers, mountain views, and more picturesque lakes than you could count. The Blue Lake Trail leads you to the shores of Blue Lake, which you can either visit on a day trip or use for backcountry camping. This hike is 199.6 km long and rated as moderate.

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      Open details for Hummocks Trail

      Hummocks Trail

      Moderate
      3.9 km
      75 m
      1-1.5h

      Hummocks Trail is a 38.6 km easy trail in the Mount Saint Helens National Monument that provides a great view of Mount Saint Helens and a walk through the area affected by its 1980 eruption. This hike is scenic and interesting, and it’s suitable for the whole family. Note that it’s very important to stay on the trail here. Walking in the protected areas can result in fines.

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      Open details for Trail of Two Forests

      Trail of Two Forests

      Very Easy
      0.5 km
      4 m
      0.5h

      Trail of Two Forests is a very short, easy hike in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This hike is only about a third of a mile long, but it packs lots to see into that short distance. Check out the interpretive signs and informational placards, climb through a lava tube, and examine a tree hollowed out by lava. This trail is family-friendly.

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      Open details for June Lake Trail

      June Lake Trail

      Easy
      4.0 km
      136 m
      1-1.5h

      June Lake Trail is a 40.2 km easy hike in Gifford Pinchot National Forest that is suitable for all skill levels. This trail leads you to pretty June Lake, with a waterfall cascading behind it. It’s a scenic spot that doesn’t require much effort to reach. This trail also has a nice view of Mount Saint Helens.

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      Open details for Glacier Lake Trail

      Glacier Lake Trail

      Hard
      7.4 km
      394 m
      2.5-3.5h

      Glacier Lake Trail is a 74.0 km out and back hike in Gifford Pinchot National Forest that takes you to a pretty lake surrounded by trees. This hike is especially enjoyable in the fall when the leaves begin to change color. Although it’s a short hike, you’ll want to be prepared for a steep climb. Expect moderate traffic on this hike.

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      Open details for Archer Mountain Trail

      Archer Mountain Trail

      Hard
      6.6 km
      487 m
      2.5-3.5h

      Archer Mountain Trail is a hard 66.0 km hike that sees light-moderate traffic. This hike is adventurous and will leave you with a good sweat on. The trail itself is rocky, a bit rough, and sometimes overgrown. It’s not the most pleasant trek, but the view at the top is amazing and worth it. While dogs are allowed on this trail, users report that it’s not a great trail for them. Consider leaving your pups at home for this one.

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      Open details for Snowgrass Flats and Goat Lake Loop

      Snowgrass Flats and Goat Lake Loop

      Hard
      19.5 km
      836 m
      5.5-8h

      The Snowgrass Flats and Goat Lake Loop is a 194.7 km hard hike in Gifford Pinchot National Forest that can be used either for day trips or for backpacking trips. The scenery on this trail is truly excellent, with major mountains visible above wide meadows and through the conifers. This hike is rated as hard. We recommend downloading a GPS track before your hike as it can be easy to end up off-trail at some junctions along the way.

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      Open details for Silver Star and Ed’s Trail Loop

      Silver Star and Ed’s Trail Loop

      Moderate
      7.6 km
      441 m
      2.5-3.5h

      The Silver Star and Ed’s Trail Loop is a varied, interesting hike with great views. This 75.6 km hike has a bit of scrambling involved, but it’s rated as moderate overall. The views are excellent, but we don’t recommend this trail for the faint of heart, for dogs, or for kids. There are some steep sections with drop-offs to consider. Additionally, you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead. Expect heavy traffic on this hike.

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      Open details for Covel Creek Falls and Angel Falls Trail

      Covel Creek Falls and Angel Falls Trail

      Moderate
      5.8 km
      294 m
      2-2.5h

      Covel Creek Falls and Angel Falls Trail is a moderate 57.9 km hike in Gifford Pinchot National Forest that sees moderate traffic. This route makes two waterfalls the star of the show. While it’s moderate overall, there are a few steep sections to contend with. We recommend doing this hike in the late spring or after it’s been raining for the best experience at the falls.

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      Open details for Weldon Wagon Road Trail

      Weldon Wagon Road Trail

      Moderate
      7.1 km
      363 m
      2.5-3h

      Weldon Wagon Road Trail is a straightforward hike with nice views. This 7.1 km trail takes you straight up and then straight down, offering a good workout. The views are in the middle of the hike, making the climb more enjoyable. While the trail doesn’t lead to anything major, it’s much less busy than other nearby hikes and makes for a pleasant outing. This hike is rated as moderate.

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      Open details for Layser Cave Trail

      Layser Cave Trail

      Very Easy
      0.6 km
      33 m
      0.5h

      Layser Cave Trail is a quick jaunt to a cave in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Interpretive signs explain the cave’s use and significance to Indian peoples years prior. The hike is very short at just 0.6 km long and is suitable for all skill levels. The view of Mount Adams on a clear day is an extra perk on this trail.

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      Open details for Goat Creek Trail

      Goat Creek Trail

      Hard
      15.9 km
      902 m
      5.5-7.5h

      Goat Creek Trail is an interesting, varied hike in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This 15.9 km trail is rated as hard and sees moderate traffic. The trail takes you across multiple stream crossings, underneath a waterfall, through the rainforest, and to the top of Vanson Peak if you’re willing to push a little further. We recommend waiting until the summertime to hike this trail as it tends to hold onto the snow.

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      Open details for Cispus Pass Loop

      Cispus Pass Loop

      Hard
      20.0 km
      805 m
      6-8h

      The Cispus Pass Loop is a 20.0 km trail beginning near Walupt Lake that can be used for day hikes or for backcountry trips by camping at Sheep Lake. This trail has great views of Mount Adams, lots of shade, and well-defined routes. Expect light traffic.

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      Open details for Mount Saint Helens Summit via Worm Flows Trail

      Mount Saint Helens Summit via Worm Flows Trail

      Hard
      16.7 km
      1,745 m
      7.5-11h

      The view from Mount Saint Helens is a stunning sight, and it should be on the hiking list of every campable adventurer. The Worm Flows approach is challenging, but it requires no technical climbing skills and is the most direct winter route. This approach is just over 16.1 km long and requires 1,745 m of vertical gain. You’ll not need mountaineering skills, but skis with skins or snowshoes with cleats are recommended. We also recommend you have some avalanche training before hiking this route. The summer approach is different.

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      Open details for Blue Lake Trail

      Blue Lake Trail

      Moderate
      7.7 km
      574 m
      3-4h

      Blue Lake Trail leads you 7.7 km through a deep canyon to Blue Lake. This hike displays interesting hints of the area’s glacial past, with a 76 m wall of basalt left by a volcanic eruption within a glacier defining the route. This hike is rated as moderate, with a few steep sections and some exposure. Expect light traffic.

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      Open details for Iron Creek Falls Trail

      Iron Creek Falls Trail

      Very Easy
      0.3 km
      4 m
      0.5h

      Iron Creek Falls Trail is a 0.3 km easy trail that leads you to a waterfall just off the highway. The pool under the waterfall is nice for swimming during the summer, and the trail experiences moderate traffic. This hike is suitable for all ages and skill levels.

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      Open details for Windy Ridge and Plains of Abraham Loop

      Windy Ridge and Plains of Abraham Loop

      Moderate
      13.5 km
      430 m
      3.5-5h

      The Windy Ridge and Plains of Abraham Loop is an 13.5 km lightly trafficked hike in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This hike is rated as moderate but requires some consideration before taking on. There’s a section of trail that is very hard to make out and leads to a narrow path on the side of a mountain with a dramatic dropoff. If you’re not keen on exposure or routefinding, try another trail. If you love a bit of adventure, give this one a shot.

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      Open details for Lava Canyon Suspension Bridge Hike

      Lava Canyon Suspension Bridge Hike

      Very Easy
      1.9 km
      81 m
      0.5-1h

      The Lava Canyon Suspension Bridge is just across from the Ape Canyon Trailhead, offering similar unique scenery to its more popular neighbor. This canyon is thrilling, with a tall suspension bridge, waterfalls, ladders, and exposed cliffsides. While the beginning of this trail is a bit more kid-friendly, it gets more daunting as you go, so feel free to turn back if it becomes too much for your group. We also offer a guide for the entire Lava Canyon Trail beyond the bridge.

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      Open details for Augspurger Mountain Trail

      Augspurger Mountain Trail

      Hard
      21.4 km
      1,391 m
      7.5-10.5h

      Augspurger Mountain Trail is a hard 21.4 km hike in the Columbia River Gorge area. It’s a lightly trafficked trail, in contrast to busy Dog Mountain just beside it. Use this route if you want to avoid the crowds but still get a good hike in. This trail has some problems with overgrowth, so we recommend downloading your GPS track and wearing long pants.

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      Open details for Big Huckleberry Mountain via PCT

      Big Huckleberry Mountain via PCT

      Moderate
      22.5 km
      532 m
      5.5-7.5h

      Big Huckleberry Mountain offers great views of Mount Saint Helens and Mount Hood. This route follows 22.5 km of the Pacific Crest Trail, making for a moderately difficult hike. While this trail is easy to follow, it’s not very scenic until the end. Stick it out for the reward. This trail sees light traffic.

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