Whenever I think of Washington, I think of lush green forests, the gorgeous city of Seattle, and, of course, nature that is incredible for hiking. Its dramatic wilderness absolutely defines this Pacific Northwest state for me and is easily was one of the main reasons why I really wanted to visit. That being said, with so many trails, it can be hard to nail down just a few of best hikes in Washington State.
Washington has become world-renowned for its incredible hiking and rambling trails that are fit for beginners all the way up to the super-spry!
As with any hike, always be prepared, tell someone where you’re going and make sure to take adequate water and food supplies for your trip. Now, with any hiking route, it’s always important you pay attention to local knowledge, park ranges and only go out with accredited guides if you’re not familiar with routes.
After all, no one likes a reckless hiker.
With that in mind, take a look at some of the best hikes in Washinton State to explore on your next trip.
1.) Anderson and Watson Lakes: North Cascades National Park
This 4 mile (6.4 km) roundtrip hike takes adventurers through beautiful sections of the North Cascades. Located within the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness area, You will pass several lakes as you make your way along this epic trail.
Elevation gain along the trail is 1,100 feet (335 m) and the highest point along the trail is 4,900 feet (1,493 m), meaning the hike can get a little tough at some points.
While the trail is beautiful all year round, try to hike between early August through October, as this time offers the best hiking views and conditions.
While the trail is beautiful all year round, try to hike between early August through October, as this time offers the best hiking views and conditions that aren’t too tricky. As always, pay attention to safety advice from rangers if you think the trail.
2.) Chain Lakes: North Cascades National Park
You see, the roundtrip length of this loop trail is 8 miles (12 km), but since there are three parking opportunities along the way, you can choose smaller loops to trek, which is great for beginners and more advanced hikers.
Stunning views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan can be had here, as well as of alpine lakes and wildflowers. Elevation gain along this trail is 1,700 feet (518 m), and the best times to hike are between late-July through mid-October.
One of the best reasons to do this hike to see Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan can be had here. Making it one of the best hikes in Washington State for some epic views.
Elevation gain along this trail is 1,700 feet (518 m), and the best times to hike are between late-July through mid-October.. again, it becomes much harder in the bitter chill (and snow) of winter.
As always, pay attention to local alerts from the rangers.
3.) Hoh Rainforest Trail: Olympic National Park
If you’re looking for a fairly easy hike with truly magical views should head straight for the Hoh Rainforest Trail. It’s easily one of the best hikes in Washington State, especially if you don’t fancy an uphill trek.
Located in Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula, the elevation gain along this mossy gem of a trail is only around 500 feet (152 m), with the highest point sitting at 800 feet (244 m). Along the 10-mile (17 km) hike, you will find themselves immersed in a world of giant trees, Roosevelt elk, birds, and plenty of amazing views of the Olympic Mountains.
If you’re feeling extra spry, Five Mile Island can also be accessed from the trail, and the Happy Four Shelter is available in case any April showers start to fall.
4.) Tolmie Peak Lookout – Eunice Lake: Mount Rainier National Park
For breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, head to the Tolmie Peak Lookout trail. The trail is 7.5 miles (12 km) roundtrip, and the highest point is 5,900 feet (1,798 m), meaning it can be quite tough depending on your ability.
If you decide upon this trail, you will find yourself at an old fire lookout, which shows off Eunice Lake and Mount Rainier in the background – it’s an incredible vista and definitely one of the best hikes for seeing Mount Rainier.
For the best views, hike from mid-July until October on a clear day. It really is one of the best hikes in Washington State.
5.) Harry’s Ridge: South Cascades/Mount St. Helens
Starting off north of Mount St. Helens, at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, You will hike south past Spirit Lake and on to Mount St. Helens itself.
This hike is perfect to visit the Observatory and discover surrounding plains and the huge blast zone from the volcanic eruption in 1980. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Mount Adams too, it’s also within sight of this trail!
The trail is around an 8 mile (12 km) roundtrip, with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet (427 m), meaning it’ll be a little bit of a challenge if it’s your first hike. Late-June through November is the best time for a hike to this national volcanic monument, though you should always check local conditions before you head on out.
6.) Snowgrass Flats – Cispus Basin – Nannie Ridge Loop: Goat Rocks Wilderness
This hike, to Snowgrass Flats, then on to Cispus Basin and on to the Nannie Ridge Trail, is a 19.6 miles (31.5 km) long round-trip. This is a whopper of a trail, but it’s easily one of the best hikes in Washington State if you like a challenge. For instance, expect to gain an elevation about 3,000 feet (914 m), with the highest point located at 6,400 feet (1950 m).
You will get to see beautiful meadows, waterfalls, and the Goat Rocks along the hike. Oh and see some fantastic views of Mount Adams to the south. The best time to plan your weekend hike is between August and September and is only suitable for a more advanced hiker only.
7.) Salmo-Priest Loop: Eastern Washington Selkirk Range
It’s easily up there as one of the best hikes in Washington State, especially as it’s part of the more remote section of Colville National Forest. Now, just to note, the trail is found within the true high-country wilderness, with old-growth forests and even grizzly bears (so make sure you prep on what to do (and not to do)).
Parts of this 19 mile (30 km) round-trip hike pass through Canada and Idaho, and it is recommended to hike the trail clockwise. Elevation gain is 3,400 feet (1,036 m), with the highest point located at an elevation of 6,480 feet (1,975 m). This makes this hike perfect for more advanced and confident hikers.
To best enjoy this beautiful hike, go in late-June through mid-October and only head out if your a confident and experienced hiker.
8.) Horseshoe Basin: Pasayten Wilderness
The trail is 12 miles (19 km) long, making it a good hike to spread out over several days, leaving plenty of time for exploring. Horseshoe Basin is located close to the Canadian border, the highest point of elevation here is 7,200 feet (2,195 m).
The trail is 12 miles (19 km) long, making it a good hike to spread out over several days, leaving plenty of time for exploring. Horseshoe Basin is located close to the Canadian border, the highest point of elevation here is 7,200 feet (2,195 m). It really is one of the best hikes in Washington State, but only suitable if you’re a more experienced hiker.
9.) Larch Lake: Central Cascades — Stevens Pass
The view of the autumn-coloured trees surrounding the lake, and snowy mountain peaks surrounding all of that, will make the difficult trek totally worth it.
Though, only go out if you’re super-experienced and have all the necessary safety information before you go. If you don’t, it could easily spoil one of the best hikes in Washinton State for you. You see, the highest point along this 12 mile (19 km) trail is 6,078 feet (1,852 m), a perfect hike for more experienced hikers.
10.) Rialto Beach: Olympic Coast
When in Washington State, it is easy to be completely absorbed by the breathtaking mountain wilderness surrounding you, just don’t forget about the Pacific Coast, though. While there are plenty of beautiful places to hike along the coast, the section of Rialto Beach is a favourite amongst hikers.
This trail, located on the Olympic Peninsula, is only 4 miles (6.4 km) round-trip, and with no gains in elevation, it’s easy for most to enjoy. From the beach, walk two miles out to Hole-in-the-Wall, taking in the rugged coastal trail.
Perfect for an easy ramble.
11.) Bird Mountain Loop: Indian Heaven Wilderness
Part of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs the length of the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Canada, this trail offers beautiful views and amazing camping opportunities to enjoy a little longer in the wilderness. Round-trip, the trial is about 10 miles (16 km) long and passes through Douglas-fir forests as you make your way to Bird Mountain.
The best time to enjoy this section of Indian Heaven Wilderness is between late-July through mid-October, when daylight hours are a little longer.
Round-trip, the trial is about 10 miles (16 km) long and passes through Douglas-fir forests as you make your way to Bird Mountain.
The best time to enjoy this section of Indian Heaven Wilderness is between late-July through mid-October, when daylight hours are a little longer. It really is one of the best hikes in Washington State to do in the Summer.
12.) Chelan Lakeshore Trail: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
In order to access this trail, take the Lady of the Lake ferry from Chelan or Field’s Point to Stehekin, where the trail begins. It might sound like a bother, but it’s worth it for one of the best hikes in Washington State.
Since there are no roads to this small mountain town, the only options are to take the ferry, hike, or fly in! The trail is a total of 17 miles (27 km) round-trip, with elevation gains of 1,600 feet (487 m). So, only consider this if you’re a confident walker/hiker.