Best Hiking Trails in Washington
Washington State is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting a diverse range of landscapes that attract adventurers from near and far. From the rugged coastal beauty of the west to the high desert landscapes of the east, Washington’s trails traverse through some of the most spectacular terrains in the United States. This guide will unveil a curated selection of the best hiking trails in Washington, inviting you to embark on unforgettable journeys through the heart of the Pacific Northwest’s natural splendor.
Enchantments Trail, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Distance: 18 miles Elevation Gain: 4500 ft Difficulty: Difficult
Nested within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, the Enchantments Trail is a high alpine exploration offering one of the best hiking experiences in Washington. This demanding 18-mile trail can be accomplished in multiple days with a hard-to-obtain permit or can be tackled in a single day by seasoned hikers. The trail unveils a breathtaking array of craggy peaks, enchanting alpine lakes and the awe-inspiring Aasgard Pass.
Pro Tip: For an extended hiking experience, visit the enchanting Stuart Lake trailhead, offering an easier trail leading to the picturesque Colchuck Lake.
Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
Distance: 5.5 miles Elevation Gain: 1450 ft Difficulty: Moderate
The Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park is a major attraction offering expansive views of the surrounding wilderness. Starting from the historic Paradise Inn, the trail unfolds across subalpine meadows, past cascading waterfalls, offering an up-close view of the majestic Mount Rainier. The trail can be completed in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
Pro Tip: To escape the summer crowds, consider starting your hike early in the day or on a weekday.
Cascade Pass Trail, North Cascades National Park
Distance: 7 miles Elevation Gain: 2000 ft Difficulty: Moderate
The Cascade Pass Trail is one of the most accessible hikes in the remote North Cascades National Park. The trail offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and icy glaciers. Climbing steadily for 3.7 miles to the pass, the trail unveils some of the Cascade mountains’ most famous peaks.
Pro Tip: For an extended day hike or overnight trip, consider taking the Sahale Arm trail that ascends steeply through subalpine meadows and talus fields to the base of the Sahale Glacier.
Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park
Distance: 17.3 miles Elevation Gain: 3700 ft Difficulty: Difficult
The Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park is a family-friendly trail that meanders through the lush Sol Duc Valley. The trail takes hikers on an enchanting journey past several waterfalls on the Wallace River. A highlight of the trail is the hike to the upper falls, offering an impressive cascade of water tumbling down a 200-foot rock face.
Pro Tip: For a more challenging adventure, the trail continues into the Seven Lakes Basin with stunning views of alpine lakes and subalpine meadows.
Goat Rocks Crest Trail
Distance: 28 miles Elevation Gain: 2000 ft Difficulty: Difficult
The Goat Rocks Crest Trail is a section of the Pacific Crest Trail that extends from Chinook Pass to White Pass, including the stunning Goat Rocks Wilderness. This trail offers a challenging 28-mile trek with over 2000 feet of elevation gain. Expect to be rewarded with spectacular views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens.
Pro Tip: Make sure to check the weather before embarking on this trail as it follows a stunning but exposed ridgeline.
Umatilla Rock Trail, Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park
Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 700 ft Difficulty: Moderate
Situated in the arid landscape of Eastern Washington, the Umatilla Rock Trail in Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park offers a unique hiking experience. The 5-mile loop trail circumnavigates Umatilla Rock, providing a fascinating glimpse into the geological past of the region.
Pro Tip: Plan your hike in the spring to enjoy a vibrant display of wildflowers.
Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
Distance: 93 miles Elevation Gain: Varies Difficulty: Difficult
The Wonderland Trail is a challenging 93-mile trail that encircles Mount Rainier, traversing through deep forests, cascading waterfalls, and meadows bursting with wildflowers. This trail requires a permit, obtained through a lottery system, and a maximum of 14 days is allowed to complete the trail.
Pro Tip: Always check the trail conditions before you set out on this challenging adventure.
Steamboat Rock Trail, Steamboat Rock State Park
Distance: 5.5 miles Elevation Gain: Less than 1000 ft Difficulty: Moderate
Located in the high desert landscape of Eastern Washington, the Steamboat Rock Trail in Steamboat Rock State Park offers breathtaking views of the surrounding region. The 5.5-mile trail provides a panoramic view of Banks Lake and the colossal 800-foot basalt butte known as Steamboat Rock.
Pro Tip: Combine your hike with a relaxing soak in the mineral baths at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.
Wallace Falls Trail, Wallace Falls State Park
Distance: 5.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1300 ft Difficulty: Moderate
The Wallace Falls Trail in Wallace Falls State Park is a popular family-friendly trail offering a serene forest setting and stunning falls. The trail encompasses nine different waterfalls on the Wallace River, each offering a unique spectacle of cascading water.
Pro Tip: For a more strenuous hike, continue to the upper falls where you’ll be rewarded with an impressive cascade.
Ape Cave Trail, Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Distance: 2.5 miles Elevation Gain: Less than 500 ft Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
The Ape Cave Trail in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument offers a unique underground hiking experience. This trail navigates one of the longest lava tubes in the nation and is accessible to everyone in the family. The trail offers two sections: the Lower Cave trail for an easier trek and the Upper Cave trail for more adventurous explorers.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to pack multiple light sources and respect the cave’s natural environment.
From snow-capped mountains to lush rainforests, Washington State offers some of the most diverse and stunning hiking trails in the United States. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice just starting out, the trails of Washington State offer something for everyone. So, gear up, pack your essentials, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure.
Note: Always ensure to check the local trail conditions and weather forecast before heading out on any hike. And remember, leave no trace behind to keep these beautiful trails preserved for future explorers.