Best hikes in Washington

12 Top Hiking Trails in Washington State

Among Washington’s many recreational options, the state is perhaps best known for some of the best hiking in the world. Trails span the rugged coast on the western edge of the state to the high desert landscape found inland in the east. Whether you’re looking for waterfalls, mountain peaks, or a glimpse into its geological past, Washington has enough trails to keep your calves burning all year round. While there are many great trails to choose from, and plenty of side trips to discover along the way, on every hiking trail in Washington State you’ll find spectacular views that you’ll think can’t get any better—until you visit the next trail.

1 The Enchantments Trail

The Enchantments Trail | Photo copyright: Brad Lane

The Enchantments Trail, in the aptly named Alpine Lakes Wilderness , is the epitome of high alpine exploration in Washington. This grueling 18-mile trail can be completed in several days by obtaining a much-sought-after permit, or for a real challenge, the entire trail can be done in one long day of hiking. The sweat is worth it though, as you’ll see, winding your way through the craggy peaks and connecting alpine lakes of charming Enchantment, and as you climb up or down the Aasgard Pass, the Enchantment is truly vibrant right up to their name .

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2 Skyline Trail

Best hikes in Washington
Skyline Trail

In the paradise hiking area of ​​Mount Rainier National Park, the Skyline Trail is one of the most popular routes for exploring the landscape surrounding iconic Mount Rainier. Despite the crowds in the busy summer season, with a wider trail and 5.5 miles to explore, plus plenty of access to longer trails in the area, the Skyline Trail offers plenty of scenery to share. Starting from the parking lot at the historic 1916 Paradise Inn, visitors and tourists can expect to see subalpine meadows bursting with color; waterfall worthy of a postcard; and of course up close to majestic Mount Rainier all the way. Whether you’re just getting acquainted with Mount Rainier National Park and the surrounding landscape in the Pacific Northwest, or you’re looking for a refresher to remind yourself why Washington has the best hiking trails around,

3 Cascade Pass Trail

Best hikes in Washington
Cascade Pass Trail

The Cascade Pass trail is one of the most accessible trails in the relatively remote areas of North Cascades National Park and offers some of the easiest terrain to take you deep into this wondrous mountain environment. The ease and accessibility of this trail makes it one of the most popular in the park, but with multiple views of steep Cascade peaks and the glacial valley that define them, the Cascade Pass Trail is worth the sometimes crowded conditions. Grand views and family-friendly terrain can be found by taking the seven-mile round trip to Cascade Pass and back, but more experienced explorers can continue on the Sahale Arm Trail for more views of subalpine meadows and mountainous landscapes.

4 Rialto Beach Trail

Best hikes in Washington
Rialto Beach Trail

Although Washington State isn’t necessarily known for its sun-drenched beaches, the West Coast offers dramatic coastline attractions for every level of hiker. Perhaps the best example of Washington’s Wild Coast can be found on the Rialto Beach Trail, on the Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park. This moderate four-mile loop parallels the Pacific Ocean and has tide pools to explore; wildlife seen in the water; and outstanding rock formations, including the impressive Hole in the Wall , which serves as most people’s deciding point for this epic coastal walk.

5 Editor’s Pick Goat Rocks Crest Trail

Goat Rocks Crest Trail |  Photo copyright: Brad Lane
Goat Rocks Crest Trail | Photo copyright: Brad Lane

While the entire portion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that spans Washington is worthy of the list, if you don’t have time to trek these 500 miles, the section from Chinook Pass to White Pass, including the Goat Rocks Wilderness, is a ‘must-do’ night hike for your bucket list. Covering approximately 28 miles and over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, this section usually requires at least one night of trail, if not several, but since it’s the PCT, campsite availability should never be an issue. It’s the weather that is the biggest concern when climbing Goat Rocks Crest, as the route follows a breathtaking, exposed ridgeline made up of saucer-slab boulders. However, take this trail at the right time of year and you can expect spectacular views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens, among many other Cascade Mountain highlights.

6 Wallace Falls Trail

Wallace Falls Trail
Wallace Falls Trail

The Wallace Falls Trail within Wallace Falls State Park is one of the most popular trails in Washington State. It’s not just the easy access and moderate class that draws crowds of hikers here, but also the incredible scenery found on every stretch of this roughly five-mile round-trip loop. The trail includes nine different waterfalls spread across the lower, middle and upper sections, and each dazzling display of waterfalls is worth the trip itself. The only real climbing on this trail comes between the middle and upper falls, and even if you don’t want to tackle the entire trail, the lower and middle portions of the Wallace Falls Trail will give you plenty of excellent views of the Skykomish River Valley areato keep you satisfied.

7 Steamboat Rock Trail

Steamboat Rock Trail
Steamboat Rock Trail

While the western half of Washington gets most of the hiking fame, the high desert of eastern Washington offers a good concentration of amazing trails worth exploring. Perhaps one of the best examples is the Steamboat Rock Trail, next to Electric City in Steamboat Rock State Park. Steamboat Rock itself is a basalt butte that rises 800 feet from the shores of Banks Lake covering an area of ​​600 square feet. To climb this impressive geological feature, the Steamboat Rock Trail involves a bit of a climb, but the panoramic views of the surrounding region are well worth the sore calf muscles. Atop the Butte is a visual example of the impact the Ice Age had on eastern Washington thousands of years ago, and if you plan your hike for spring, chances are you’ll be trekking next to an abundant concentration of wildflowers to see this age-old view to accompany.

8 Wonderland Trail

Wonderland Trail
Wonderland Trail

Circling the entire base of perhaps Washington’s most iconic peak, the Wonderland Trail travels some 93 miles around Mount Rainier , offering some of the best scenery in the state. To hike the Wonderland Trail’s many ups and downs, especially during the peak summer season, hikers must obtain a much-sought overnight permit. The National Park Service allows up to 14 days to complete the 93 miles, and in that time you can expect to not only see a healthy collection of breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, but also get a full dose of the Cascade environment, including lush meadows, glittering mountain lakes and rushing river crossings.

9 Sol Duc Falls Trail

Sol Duc Falls Trail
Sol Duc Falls Trail

The Sol Duc Falls Trail, easily accessible via the Sol Duc Campground or Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park, is a family-friendly and popular outlet for exploring the surrounding Sol Duc Valley, including the Sol Duc River cascade. The nearly two-mile hike to the impressive Sol Duc Falls is just a small part of what you can enjoy on your next Olympic National Park excursion, and for those looking for a longer escape, the ongoing Lover’s Lane trail offers more views of the alpine lakes and subalpine meadows found in the area. The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort itself offers plenty of attractions to explore before or after your hike, including mineral baths, massages, and a comfortable place to recharge before your next walk in the park.

10 Lake Ann Trail

Lake Ann Trail
Lake Ann Trail

Not to be confused with the nearby Lake Ann Trail found at Rainy Pass in North Cascades National Park, the Lake Ann Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest offers unparalleled views of both Mount Baker and, more specifically, Mount Shuksan , all from the tranquil shores of serene Lake Ann. This 8.2-mile trail isn’t just a walk in the park, though, and the steep elevation in both directions at the start of the trail will test your legs and make you wonder if the pain is worth it. Once you approach the shoreline, and witness Washington’s pristine nature reflecting off the glacier-fed waters of Lake Ann, you’ll see for yourself that the hard work was worth it.

11 Umatilla Rock Trail

Umatilla Rock Trail
Umatilla Rock Trail

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Washington’s eastern landscape, there’s no better place to do it than Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park near Coulee City. The main feature of this high desert landscape is the cliff face of Dry Falls, which was more than twice the size of Niagara Falls during monumental Ice Age floods thousands of years ago. Although there are many great ways to witness this gargantuan geological namesake, including the nearby Lenore Caves Trail, the view along the Umatilla Rock Trail is the way to go. Looking upward from the bottom of this 400-foot cliff at the impressive Dry Falls, the Umatilla Rock Trail is a looping trail that surrounds Umatilla Rock itself and offers a unique look at a dry landscape not always associated with the state Washington.

12 Ape Cave Trail

Best hikes in Washington
Ape Cave Trail iwona_kellie / modified photo

The Ape Cave Trail, in Mount St. Helens National Monument within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest , plunges you deep into the subterranean world. Stretching more than two miles underground, the Ape Cave Trail provides access to one of the nation’s longest lava tubes, if not the most easily accessible, meaning every member of the family can explore this new world beneath their feet. For more adventurous explorers, the Ape Cave Trail also offers plenty of nooks and crannies to meander through and get a little dirty.

Of special note regarding the Ape Cave Trail and any commercial or wild cave is that caves can be a dangerous environment no matter how well explored, and they are also extremely fragile. When visiting the Ape Cave Trail, it is important not only to bring the necessary equipment, including multiple light sources, but also to respect the cave’s resources by staying on the trail and not disturbing the naturally quiet and darkened environment. to disturb.

Read also:

Best Hiking Trails in Shenandoah National Park

 top-rated hiking trails in New Hampshire

Top Rated Hiking Trails in Vermont

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