Washington State Hikes
Ever thought about hiking in Washington State? Now is the time to go! This gorgeous corner of the United States is one of the best places in the world for hiking, offering tremendous diversity and thrilling trails. From the green temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, to the soaring peaks of the Cascades National Park, there’s something here for all adventure travelers.
Hiking in Washington State is a real treat for keen trekkers. The Cascades National Park makes a stunning backdrop for some of the most thrilling hikes and ridge walks in the country, where you’ll find yourself looking over a panorama of craggy peaks, wildflower meadows and emerald lakes. The old growth forests around Mount Baker are a wonderful place for a ramble, with trails that look over glacier-covered mountains and daringly high passes. Finally, the Olympic Peninsula offers something completely different – bracing coastal walks, unusual wildlife, and moss-covered gorges, deep in the heart of ancient forests.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your hiking trip to Washington State today. We’ve put together all the information that you’ll need, from trail recommendations for all hiking levels, to weather and travel advice. Now is the time to enjoy everything this wonderful state has to offer.
Types Of Hiking In Washington State
Washington State is known for the diversity of its landscapes, meaning that there’s a trail here to suit everyone. In the west, the Olympic National Park occupies a large peninsula with some incredible scenery, ranging from coastal trails to lush, temperate rainforest. Kids will love the easy, low level trails here, winding through magical ancient forests covered in a vibrant coat of moss. You’ll also find some easy, accessible hikes in the North Cascades National Park, where woodland and wildflower trails are perfectly offset by the surrounding vista of tall, craggy peaks.
If you’re an adventure hiker looking for a challenge, there’s plenty in Washington State to keep you occupied. Some of the toughest trails can be found near Mount Baker and in the North Cascades National park, where the climbs are steep and the route are long. However, the reward for your exertions is pretty phenomenal – you’ll be right in the heart of some of Washington State’s greatest wildernesses, with mind-blowing views, colorful trails, and some of the region’s most fascinating wildlife.
Easy Hikes In Washington State
Hole in the Wall Hike: This magnificent trek is one of our favorite easy hikes in Washington State. The trail takes you from the edge of the Pacific Ocean to a collection of impressive boulders and rock formations further along the coast. As you walk along the beach you’ll feel the crashing power of the ocean to your left, before you finally reach a steep ridge that offers beautiful views over the coastline.
Washington Pass Overlook Hike: If you’re in the North Cascades National Park, don’t miss this enjoyable easy hike. At just under half a kilometer, it’s a great place to stretch your legs on the drive between eastern and western Washington State. It may be a short route, but you’ll get a fantastic view of Liberty Bell Mountain and Silver Star Mountain.
Family Hikes In Washington State
Blue Lake Hike: If you’re looking for a family-friendly trail in the North Cascades National Park, this hike to Blue Lake is an excellent option. Surrounded by the dramatic Liberty Bell Mountain spires, Blue Lake is simply gorgeous, and at its best when the leaves start to turn in autumn. This trail, which snakes through woodland, and wildflower fields past a rocky lakeside, is perfect for children, with plenty of opportunities for wildlife-spotting along the way.
Marymere Falls Hike: Bring your family to the beautiful Marymere Falls and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a magical world! The trail winds its way through shady temperate rainforest and up a steep track to the falls. The beautiful old growth forest has a character all of its own, and kids will love the mossy ravine, dressed in bright green ferns.
Day Hikes In Washington State
High Divide Loop Hike: This challenging route in the Olympic National Park is one of the best day hikes in Washington State. The trail passes along a beautiful ridge above the tree line, offering incredible views over Mount Olympus. Take the route clockwise for the most impressive vista, and look out for a glimpse of the enormous Blue Glacier. This day trek is a long hike, but it’s a rewarding challenge for those looking for something extra special in the Olympic National Park.
Cutthroat Pass Hike: This route along the Pacific Crest Trail is one of the best day hikes in Washington State, and a must for all keen hikers! The path to the top rises moderately through a dense forest, crossing over Porcupine Creek, and rising to a series of switchbacks that will take you to the top of the pass. The views from the top are stunning, with a 360 degree vista over the peaks of North Cascades National Park.
Challenging Hikes In Washington State
Ptarmigan Ridge Hike: Want to get away from it all? This hike along Ptarmigan Ridge is the best place to come if you’re looking for solitude and a challenging hike. You’ll cross permanent snowfields, wander through flower-filled meadows and scramble over boulders, all that while enjoying the fabulous Mount Baker. Look out for mountain goats and marmots, and enjoy the majestic beauty of this remarkable landscape.
Hannegan Pass and Peak Hike: This hike up Hannegan Pass and Hannegan Peak is a steep climb, but it’s well worth the effort! The trail winds in and out of lush forests, across wide, open meadows, and over gurgling mountain streams. The views all the way along the route are simply magnificent, dominated by the snow-capped Ruth Mountain. The 360-degree panorama over Cascade Mountain at the top will certainly make you forget your aching legs!
Best Hikes In Washington State
Chain Lakes Loop: This classic circular hike is a wonderful summer trek, and an excellent way to experience the region around Mount Baker. The route begins at the Heather Meadows Visitor Center, and climbs from Artist Point up to the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail. You’ll experience fabulous mountain and lake views, and enjoy the wildflower fields and berry-lined trails to their full advantage.
Yellow Aster Butte Trail: This challenging ascent is one of the best hikes in Washington State, and one of our favorites in the region around Mount Baker. You’ll pass dense woodland, lively mountain streams, and peaceful tarns, before finally summiting Yellow Aster Butte. This scenic peak offers some of the most spectacular views in the region, and is at its best in autumn, when the turning leaves light up the forest in a blaze of crimson and orange.
Royal Basin Hike: For a challenging hike where you can escape the crowds, head to the Olympic National Forest, where this wonderful trail begins. The climb is a little difficult as you ascend a steep trail alongside Royal Creek, but the rewards at the top are simply fabulous. Enjoy the views over Greywolf Mountain and the serene waters of the gorgeous Royal Lake.
Ladder Creek Falls Hike: Looking for a family-friendly hike with plenty of entertainment for younger kids? This short trek to Ladder Creek Falls could be the solution! The trail crosses the river and passes through a rich forest, before emerging at the falls just in time for the evening light show. This innovative performance is a great way to experience the falls themselves, and kids are sure to love it.
Table Mountain Hike: A trip to Washington State wouldn’t be complete without a Table Mountain hike, and this trail offers some of the best views you’ll find over Mount Baker. You’ll need a head for heights, as this trail is somewhat exposed, but the rewards are incomparable. You’ll get a 360-degree panorama over Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker, and a vista that will take your breath away.
Lake Ann Hike: This moderate hike is an excellent way to experience the best of the Mount Baker region without too much exertion. The trail runs alongside Swift Creek, before ascending the slopes above the treeline. The summit near Lake Ann is a fabulous place for a picnic, and you’ll be able to enjoy views of Mount Shuksan and its thunderous waterfalls.
Klahhane Ridge Hike: Looking for a spectacular ridge hike that won’t require too much energy? Try this route over Klahhane Ridge, one of the best hikes in Washington State. The trail begins at the high viewpoint of Hurricane Ridge, meaning that you won’t need to climb up a steep hill to experience fantastic views over the Olympic National Park. Once you’ve summited the pass near Mount Angeles you’ll have an even more impressive vista, taking in Mount Olympus, Mount Angeles and Second Top.
Maple Pass Loop Hike: This hike is one of the finest in the North Cascades National Park, and a must for all adventure travelers! Make sure you arrive in the right season, and the trail is only accessible during the summer months. However, if you time it right, you’ll experience some stunning views and a deeply satisfying, varied hike. You’ll find ridges littered with wild flowers and a beautiful alpine lake – what more could you ask for?
Hoh River Trail Hike: This beautiful trail passes through the dense, temperate rainforest that Washington State is famous for. This magical, otherworldly landscape will transport you to a time of myth and legend, as you pass through old growth forest coated with fragrant moss. The River Hoh acts as your guide on this trail, and you’ll follow the path of the water until you come to the Five Mile Island campground, where you’ll have the chance to spot herds of deer and elk.
Easy Pass Hike: Come to the North Cascades National Park in autumn, when the larches shine in ablaze of yellow glory at the turning of the leaves. You’ll find stunning fall colors, set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Don’t let the name lull you into a false sense of security – this hike is somewhat challenging! However, the rewards are simply breathtaking.
When Is The Best Time To Hike In Washington State?
It’s possible to go hiking year-round in Washington State, and this beautiful region has hikes for every type of weather. Spring is a wonderful time to visit, as the forests and meadows will be covered in a carpet of wild flowers and the extra light opens up the possibility of doing slightly longer trails. High-altitude treks will still be covered in snow, but snowshoeing is still a possibility.
The peak hiking season comes in summer, although over the highest trails it’s confined to July and August. At this time the weather is usually warm and sunny, although the trails may be crowded. For quieter routes, plan your visit in late spring and early autumn.
Perhaps the most spectacular time to hike in Washington State is September and early October, when the forests erupt in a blaze of autumn colors. However, over the higher peaks, early snows can limit hiking opportunities, so watch out for weather updates and take advice from local guides. Although some low-level trails remain open in winter, the roads through the national parks are typically blocked by snow. This is a fantastic time to get your snowshoes and skis out to enjoy the slopes!
Best Regions For Hiking in Washington State
One of the best regions for hiking in Washington State is undoubtedly the North Cascades National Park, a beautiful region boasting dense forests, jagged peaks, and stunning alpine lakes. Close by, the Mount Baker region is another hiking gem. Although it’s best known as a top skiing destination, Mount Baker has some incredible summer hiking trails, offering the possibility of getting up close to the iconic Mount Shuksan. The trails here are typically covered in wildflowers and berries, making this one of our favorite places to hike in the region. Further west, the Olympic National Park offers wonderful hiking trails in a unique, epic landscape. Here, you’ll find coastal trails, atmospheric tide pools and dense temperate rainforest, in addition to mountain and ridge hikes.
Other Outdoor Activities in Washington State
Although we love hiking in the North Cascades National Park and the area around Mount Baker, there are many other outdoor activities in Washington State! The national parks of this beautiful region offer many possibilities for backpacking and through hikes, and this could be the ideal spot to try your first long-distance trek. If you’re an avid climber, Washington State is something of a paradise, with more than 100 mountains and climbing routes to suit all levels of expertise. In the coastal areas you’ll also find windsurfing, paddle-boarding and other watersports, and when the snows hit, you can get our your snowshoes and cross-country skis for some serious winter adventures.
How To Plan A Trip To Washington State
If these suggestions have got you reaching for your hiking boots, start planning your trip to Washington State today! We’ve got everything you’ll need to get started – our Mount Baker guide is perfect for advice on hiking routes and our Olympic National Park guide has everything you’ll need to plan your trip. Don’t miss our expert tips on planning your visit to the North Cascades National Park. Whatever your question, we’ve got it covered!
Hiking regions in Washington State
Best Hikes in Washington State
Chain Lakes Loop
Chain Lakes Loop is a classic and beautiful summertime hike near Mount Baker. This alpine circuit offers massive mountain and lake views, summer wildflowers, and blueberries to boot.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
Cascade Pass Trail
Cascade Pass Trail is one of the classic North Cascades hikes. We love Cascade Pass for a relatively easy climb to subalpine grandeur. Mountains, valleys, glaciers, waterfalls, and more make a hike to Cascade Pass pretty much unbeatable for the effort.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
Pinnacle Peak Saddle Trail
The Pinnacle Peak Saddle trail offers a lofty viewpoint over the Paradise area with only moderate effort required. With no technical challenges and a consistent steady incline, it offers a great quick workout with views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams to reward you.
The Pinnacle Peak Saddle trail is a great way to access a network of trails in the area- just look for the interconnecting tracks at the summit, or continue further along the ridge from the pinnacle of this hike.
Lake 22 Trail
Lake 22 Trail is a 10.9 km heavily trafficked route in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that features a lake and is rated as moderate. This hike is a popular choice in the area and is best done earlier or later in the day to avoid the crowds. The trail climbs through a mature forest and wraps around Lake Twentytwo (22), making it a nice choice on a hot day if you want to dip your feet. Dogs can be brought on this trail but must be kept on leash.
Hoh Rainforest Hike
Hoh Rainforest is one of the most-visited trails in Olympic National Park. You’ll wander through lush temperate rainforest on an easy, family-friendly trail. You’ll see massive old hemlocks, spruce, ferns, and mosses. Watch for Coho salmon swimming in the creek, and name all the species of plant and animal you can. This is a true Washington rainforest adventure and it’s very accessible for beginners and young children.
The trail presents no real challenge and is conveniently located near a visitor center and a campground. Although this trail gets busy, we recommend making the trip if you’re in the park. If you can, visiting on a weekday offers the best chance of a quieter trail.
Snoqualmie Falls Trail
Snoqualmie Falls Trail takes you along an easy 2.3 km route to see one of the most iconic waterfalls in Washington. This hike is family-friendly and very suitable for beginners, but it’s a worthwhile stop for any hiker in the area. Learn about the region’s ecosystem and Native American culture as you walk, then snap photos from the perfectly placed falls viewpoints. You can walk to each viewpoint for the full experience or keep it as easy as possible by just visiting the two viewpoints close to the parking area.
Dogs are allowed on this hike but must be kept on leash. This area gets quite busy on the weekends, so we recommend visiting early in the morning or during the week for the least crowded experience.
Colchuck Lake Trail
Laying eyes on Colchuck Lake for the first time is a breathtaking moment. The 8.0 mi round trip hike to the lake and back? Also breathtaking, but for different reasons. This is a steep, heavily trafficked hike, but it’s worth all the effort. You’ll be able to sit down on one of the most sublime spots in the Enchantments, where mountain peaks cradle an emerald lake adorned with an island of trees. It’s a fine reward for the brutal last couple of miles you’ll be tasked with. Poles and good boots are recommended.
We don’t recommend this trail for young kids, anyone with mobility challenges, or beginners, as there are some extended steep sections. We also recommend arriving early to beat some of the traffic. You can also arrange to camp on the shore of the lake, but make sure you’ve got your permit sorted ahead of time.
High Rock Lookout Trail
High Rock is high, indeed. This viewpoint soars above the surrounding region of the 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 3.2 mi in length and with moderate elevation gain, it’s a suitable trail for most skill levels and for active families. You’ll climb up Sawtooth Ridge to a fire cabin, where you can relax and savor the sightlines.
Expect heavy traffic on this hike, making a visit during the week or early in the morning a good choice. Most of the trail is wide, save for a few skinner sections. That being said, no part of the trail is highly exposed.
Skyline Divide is a rolling ridgeline hike that offers breathtaking panoramic views from Shuksan to Baker. Listen out for the whistling marmots, and be prepared for one of the best seasonal wildflower shows around. This is such a great way to spend a sunny summer day with friends. Read the full guide to Skyline Divide.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
Maple Pass Loop
Hiking the Maple Pass Loop in the North Cascades is a gem. This is one of the finest trails in the North Cascades, and Maple Pass Loop is a stunner during its short season. Climbing high above alpine lakes, it skirts the North Cascades National Park boundary for views deep into the rugged and remote North Cascades. If you have time for just one North Cascades trail, this is the one.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
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Other Activities in Washington State
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