22 Best Hikes in Washington: Where to Go Hiking in Washington

best hikes in washington
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If you’ve been following my website or social media channels for a while, it comes as no surprise that I love to hike. No matter what time of year it is, I’m always spending hours researching what hikes I can do in the upcoming weeks. That’s why I wanted to narrow down a list of the best hikes in Washington for you to plan your own trips.

I’ll be honest – narrowing down the best Washington hikes to just 22 was hard, and it’s impossible to get all of the good ones on this list. However, I picked a variety of easy, short hikes as well as some harder ones that all include the ones I consistently recommend to my readers over and over.

I’ve included essential information you’ll need to know, like how long the hikes are or if you’ll need a pass in advance to park at the trailhead. So sit back, get your notepad out, and pick out some upcoming hikes in Washington to do!

What to Know Before Washington Hiking

While I find hiking relaxing, it always requires a bit of planning ahead. Here are a few tips to keep in mind first:

  • Check the trail reports – I use WTA to look up all the hikes I want to do, confirming that it’s safe (no avalanche danger or recent bear sightings) and to see any advice recent hikers left (such as bringing bug spray).
  • Look at pass reports – Many hikes are over the Cascade Mountains, which means you’ll have to cross Stevens or Snoqualmie Pass to get there. Even if the weather is dry and sunny at your destination, you may enter snow in the pass, so check the WSDOT report first to prepare yourself.
  • Buy passes ahead of time – I list what pass is required for each hike in this article, but you’ll want to buy these ahead of time if possible. Not every trail will have a machine available to buy a day pass, so save yourself time and money by getting an annual pass (such as America the Beautiful pass for any national park).
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What to Pack for Hiking in Washington

You’ll want to be prepared for your Washington hikes, so here are a few items I always use and carry with me on the trail:

22 Best Hikes in Washington State

With hundreds of trails to choose from in Washington, I’ve rounded up the best hikes so that you don’t have to wander the impressive parks cluelessly. 

The variety of Washington hikes allows you to escape urban life and wander amongst lustrous Alpine forests, glaciated mountains, cascading waters, and wildlife such as black bears, mountain goats, and deer. 

If you want to see more of the state, look at my post about small towns in Washington

1. Heather-Maple Loop

heather maple loop pass hike

Location: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Mileage: 7.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet

Pass Required: National Forest Pass

The Heather-Maple Loop is a beautiful moderate loop for a lovely Washington day hike in the summer and fall. It’s by far one of the best hikes in North Cascades National Park, in my opinion!

Here you’ll find yourself trekking through majestic Ponderosa Pine Woodlands and the habitat of many bird species, like the white-headed woodpecker. 

The trail ascends slowly, and following along the way are colorful wildflowers. Follow the Heather-Maple trail counterclockwise to gaze upon the most breathtaking views of lakes, mountain peaks, and a magical Washington waterfall. Your first stop will be at the Lake Ann shores, where you’ll see stunning evidence of glaciation in the rock formations. 

Then you’ll reach Heather Pass, dotted with wildflowers and lakes. Stick to the left side of the ridgeline to reach a steep climb to Maple Pass and get a glimpse of Frisco, Stiletto, and Black Peaks. This is one of the best fall hikes in Washington State thanks to the vibrant fall foliage you’ll find.

Make sure you have your America the Beautiful Pass! For only one price, you can visit all the national parks over and over throughout the year. I renew mine every year.

2. Kelly Butte Lookout

Jasper me Kelly Butte 2

Location: Mount Rainier area

Mileage: 3.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft.

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Kelly Butte Lookout is a stunning hike to go on, but a bit of a trek to get there. You’ll need to screenshot directions from WTA and use your odometer to know when to turn, as you’ll be following a forest service road for about 30 minutes. There are some huge potholes here and I would recommend having a high-clearance vehicle if possible, but I did see a few sedans at the trailhead when I got there.

Another thing to note is you’ll see a small parking lot and a trailhead, but there is no sign indicating which trail it is. I heavily relied on AllTrails for this hike and was glad I downloaded the offline map so I could confirm I was on the trail (read my review on AllTrails Pro vs. free if you’re curious about the difference).

That said, it’s a beautiful hike through the forest with views of Mount Rainier for most of the trail. You’ll then encounter the switchback portion, which makes up the majority of the elevation gain. I do have my son with me in this photo, but I carried him all the way up the switchbacks because they’re a bit too narrow for young kids.

You can go in the lookout from the hours of 10 am to 6 pm (at least at the time of this article), but otherwise can walk around it and enjoy one of the most scenic views you’ll have for lunch or snacks. I recommend doing a sunset hike if you feel comfortable hiking back in the dark because it’s a hike you’ll want. output on your bucket list for Washington state.

3. Colchuck Lake

hikes near leavenworth colchuck lake

Location: Leavenworth Area

Mileage: 8 miles 

Elevation Gain: 2,280 ft.

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Here we have one of the best places to hike in Washington if you’re looking for rough terrain and seclusion. The Colchuck Lake trail is an 8-mile hike that starts at the Stuart Lake trailhead. At the western side of Leavenworth, turn right onto Forest Service Road from Icicle Creek Road to access the Stuart Lake trailhead.

At first, you’ll gradually trek through some forest with views of the surrounding valley. Then you’ll make two log bridge crossings over Mountaineer Creek, one of which is quite tumultuous. Be ready to hop over some boulders along the creek’s bank. 

The trail will grow steeper and rockier after this point, but once you’ve made it past Dragontail Peak, you only have one more steep stretch to cover. After this, the trail will veer off to the right, and then you should be at your destination – a crystal clear aquamarine lake.

Buy your Northwest Forest Pass in advance so you don’t have to buy it at the trailhead.

4. Lake 22

lake 22
Image via Flickr by Aaron Leavy

Location: North Cascades

Mileage: 5.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,350 ft

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Get your taste of Alpine woodlands, mountain views, and calming waterfalls at Lake 22. The trek starts at the Lake Twentytwo trailhead near Granite Falls. For a fast-paced adventure, snowshoe or trail runs the challenging path in under 3 hours.

The hike promises fantastic views as you navigate through the forest, first crossing a bridge and then past three waterfalls. I recommend wearing sturdy boots with a good grip, as the trail is rocky and slippery, as well as other Pacific Northwest rain gear.

Note: The Lake 22 trail often has avalanches in wintertime, so it’s safer to visit once the snow has melted. 

I love using AllTrails to download maps and stay on the trail during all my hikes.

5. Wallace Falls

wallace falls

Location: Wallace Falls State Park

Mileage: 5.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft

Pass Required: Discover Pass

Wallace Falls is overcrowded for a reason; this is a popular yet beautiful trail in Washington state. Although it can be densely crowded, the path remains well-kept and well-marked and is one of the best day hikes in Washington.

This is also a great winter hike to do, as it doesn’t tend to get too much snow even in the middle of winter. You’re also halfway to the Bavarian town of Leavenworth if you want to get a beer and sausage and discover all the other Leavenworth winter activities.

Take an access route under power lines from the Wallace Falls State Park parking lot to start your journey. After a short while, you’ll face an intersection. Take the Woody Trail, where you’ll cross many streams. There are three waterfalls to visit along the way, although the middle one tends to be the most popular.

Buy your Discover Pass in advance so you don’t need to pay at the trailhead.

6. Hurricane Hill

Hurricane Hill

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Mileage: 3.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 650 ft.

Pass Required: National Park Pass

One of the more easy hikes in Washington, the Hurricane Hill trail is a beautiful moderate hike for those wishing to explore the park with ease. Find a parking spot on Hurricane Ridge Road and make your way to the trailhead. 

You can access the Elwha River Valley from the Hurricane trail for a relaxing break from walking. You can gaze upon the Bailey Range and other majestic views from the top of the trail. If you find this trail too easy-going, why not venture onto the Whiskey-Bend Road for a steep and challenging 14-mile day hike – just make sure to stay hydrated on this trail. 

Tip: Wear a windbreaker for this trail, as the Olympic National Park gets windy. 

7. Skyline Trail

mount rainier

Location: Mount Rainier

Mileage: 5.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,450 ft

Pass Requirement: National Park Pass

The Skyline Trail is a popular route that hikers take to leave the Paradise section of Mount Rainier. You have to start at the Paradise parking lot, then find the trailhead behind the Jackson Visitor Center. The trail is rocky and partially paved, surrounded by forests and stunning views of the “Great White Mountain.”  

I suggest taking the hike in a clockwise direction if you don’t want to miss out on breathtaking views. The trail is a 3-hour strenuous hike but well worth your time as you’ll be graced with exhilarating views of cascading waterfalls, wildflowers, and glaciers.

While this is one of my favorite Mount Rainier hikes, it’s also covered in snow for a large part of the year, so I recommend saving this for sometime between July and September.

8. Blue Lake

hiking blue lake north cascades

Location: North Cascades

Mileage: 4.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,050 ft

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

The Blue Lake trail is a popular spot for hikers, birdwatchers, and anglers alike and a top choice for weekend excursions. If you want to take on this moderate trail in peace and quiet, I suggest showing up on weekdays for a North Cascades day trip. Your four-legged companion may enter the trail but only on a leash. 

Your journey through the beautiful subalpine forest starts at the trailhead from the North Cascades Highway at this beautiful Washington national park. Throughout the hike, you can find splendid mountain views, shimmering blue lakes, and lush meadows.

Blue Lake is one of the best larch hikes in Washington, so start checking the trail reports around mid to late September.

Note: There’s no access to most of the North Cascades Highway during the winter season.

9. Rachel Lake

rachel lake

Location: Snoqualmie Region

Mileage: 8 miles 

Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass and Wilderness Permit 

Rachel Lake is a lovely outing for the whole family with excellent camping sites. Start your hike at the Rachel Lake Trailhead parking lot, just left from the Lake Kachess Campground. Then venture through the Alpine wilderness, filled with rock formations and meadows threaded with streams. 

The Rachel Lake trail is rocky and requires strenuous uphill climbing over extensive steps. However, I consider it one of the best hikes in Washington due to the stunning lakes in the area.

In winter, it’s best to wear snowshoes with spikes. Make sure you have a shoe with a good grip and plenty of water, as you can expect to walk through dampening meadows. 

Tip: I suggest you have a map handy for this trail, as there are many false trails along the way.   

10. Twin Falls

twin falls hike

Location: Snoqualmie Region

Mileage: 2.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 500 ft.

Pass Requirement: Discover Pass

Twin Falls starts at the parking lot of the same name, then the trail follows alongside the South Fork Snoqualmie River. You’ll reach a viewpoint that looks out onto Lower Falls, one of many waterfalls you’ll see on this trail. 

After more hiking, you’ll find a bridge that spans Twin Falls, and from here, you get breathtaking views of Upper and Lower Falls. I suggest you have your camera ready to capture the cascading waterfalls, rivers, and rocky landscapes. 

Also, try to visit this trail in summer or spring to see the colorful blooming flowers. You might even have a run-in with a large elk colony that peacefully grazes the area. The Twin Falls hike is easy to moderate and takes under two hours to complete, making it the perfect trail for beginners. It’s also an ideal hike during wintertime in Seattle.

11. Naches Peak Loop

naches peak loop hike

Location: Mount Rainier

Mileage: 3.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 600 ft.

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

The Naches Peak loop is straightforward and takes under 2 hours of your time when spending a day at Mount Rainier. It’s perfect for a quick morning run, but be wary, as a snow-covered or muddy trail means that you have to tread carefully. 

The clockwise trail begins at the Tipsoo Lake parking area, which I recommend for a fantastic view of Mount Rainier. Hiking this way will have you go on a gradual incline for the first two miles, and then downhill for the last mile with a constant view of Mount Rainier. Tipsoo Lake offers visitors a tranquil picnic area, so reward yourself with a tasty lunch after an adventurous hike. 

The famous viewpoint of Mount Rainier and a lake is about two miles in clockwise/one mile counterclockwise. At this point, you’ll want to take out your camera on this stunning Mount Rainier hike. However, bugs can be bad in the summer by the water, so you might want to wear bug spray or take your pictures quickly.

The best time to take on Naches Peak is from July to August, as the surrounding areas will boast an array of colorful flowers for the most enchanting scenery.    

12. Mount Ellinor

mount Ellinor best hikes in Olympic National Park

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Mileage: 6.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,300 ft

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest pass

When you want a challenge, you’ll love Mount Ellinor, one of the best hikes in Washington with stunning views.

Take on one of two hikes near Olympic National Park to Mount Ellinor: the Upper trailhead or the Lower trailhead. As hinted by the names, the Upper trailhead starts at 3,500 feet and is much steeper, whereas the Lower trailhead begins at an elevation of 2,600 feet with a much gentler ascent. 

The Lower trail is easier on the feet and grants its hikers serene views of Lake Cushman. If you decide to venture on the highway and take the Upper trail, you can climb steep stairsteps. However, the majestic bird’s eye view of Mount Olympus is worth all the legwork. 

You might also glimpse the little expert mountaineers, the mountain goats, as you climb your way up Mount Olympus. 

13. Stuart Lake Trail

Colchuck Lake

Location: Central Cascades, Leavenworth Area

Mileage: 9.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,665 ft.

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Start the 4-hour hike at the Stuart/Colchuck Trailhead just off Icicle Creek road when visiting Leavenworth. The walk is quite long and slightly challenging. I suggest that you stay hydrated and wear the right hiking gear – and most importantly, have a can of bug spray.   

Most hikers use the Stuart Lake Trail to reach the Enchantments. You’ll follow along the Mountaineer Creek, and cross a stream at some point. Continue on a steep path through the forest until you face a junction. Lake Stuart should appear soon after.

You’ll be rewarded with camera-worthy scenery at the end of your hike. You can cool off at the Stuart Lake shore. See the Colchuck aquamarine waters and stop by the Enchantments for more otherworldly sights, such as granite rock, striking larches, and ponds.

14. Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Mileage: 1.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 200 ft

Pass requirements: National Park Pass

Sol Duc Falls is an Olympic National Park treasure popular amongst visitors. To begin this short picturesque trek, you can find the trailhead beyond Sol Duc Hot Springs and Resort. The trail is a dream-come-true for photographers and anyone looking for a relaxing hike through the Mount Olympus area. 

The trail is easy to follow as you make your way through old-growth and cross a river. You can see wildlife, alpine lakes, rivers, snow-capped mountain peaks, waterfalls, and flowery meadows. I love this as a spring hike in Washington, as the waterfall will really be flowing.

Camping sites are available to get a complete sense of what it’s like to live in the park. 

Note: Permits are needed to camp at the Sol Duc Falls. 

15. Enchantments Trail

Enchantment Park Lake

Location: Central Cascades

Mileage: 18.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft.

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass 

The magical Enchantments is an area within the Central Cascades likened to imagery found in Nordic ancient myths and folktales. This is truly an otherworldly experience for every hiker and worth doing despite it being a 10-hour strenuous hike. The Enchantments are meditative and transformative as you enter a state of tranquility offered by nature’s best features. 

Gaze upon a stunning display of granite rock formations adorned with crystal clear streams, ponds, and glacier lakes and sporting tall larches. You might even spot some mountain goats here and there, gracefully trotting about. 

The remarkable journey starts at the Stuart/Colchuck Trailhead. You’ll cross over Mountaineer Creek twice and pass by Inspiration Lake, topped with fantastic views of Cashmere Crags mountain peaks. Try to visit Aasgard pass and Snow Lakes as a bonus for your trek.

16. Dog Mountain

Dog Mountain
Image via Flickr: Landscapes in The West

Location: Southwest Washington

Mileage: 6 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,800 ft

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

The Dog Mountain trail is quite popular – and I’m sure it has nothing to do with its name. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the hiking trails that allows furry friends as long as they’re kept on a leash. Remember to purchase your hiking pass ahead of time since the trail is very popular. 

The trail is quite steep but still easy to moderate difficulty, making it an ideal route for the whole family. The Dog Mountain trail may be overcrowded, but the stunning scenery dotted with springtime flowers and the Columbia River and Mount Hood views make it worth your time. 

Note: Parking is limited during springtime, but a parking pass could secure your spot. 

17. Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls

Location: Eastern Washington 

Mileage: 1.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 0 ft

Pass Requirement: Discover Pass

The Palouse Falls trail is a short 17-minutes hike but still succeeds at being one of the best hikes in Washington. Find the trailhead at Palouse Falls road, where you can park your car. You can view this waterfall hike from the parking lot, and then you can continue on the grassland path. 

If you want to get more enchanting views of wildflowers, the river, and grazing marmots, I suggest visiting from February to October. The easy path is for the whole family to enjoy, including your pup. The hike can be steep in some areas, so wear shoes with a sturdy grip or hiking boots during colder seasons. 

Note: The camping ground and overnight parking are no longer permitted. 

18. Barclay Lake

barclay lake

Location: Central Cascades

Mileage: 4.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 500 ft

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Venture along Barclay Creek through mountain peaks for a fantastic experience of the Central Cascades. The Barclay Lake Trail starts at the parking lot and continues for about 2 hours through valleys. Barclay Lake is a popular destination for larger groups so you can expect a run-in with some boy scouts. 

You’ll also encounter campers, birdwatchers, or people fishing along the trail. You can access the lake and a beach for water activities during summer. If you’re in the area in winter, you should be able to go for an early hike to view snow-capped mountain peaks and gorgeous frozen lakes.  

Note: The Barclay Lake Trail is muddy and watery, so wear your sturdy waterproof boots. 

19. Eightmile Lake Trail

Eightmile Lake
Image via Flickr: Landscapes in The West

Location: Central Cascades

Mileage: 6.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Park

The Eightmile Lake trail is a well-known out-and-back trail for hiking and snowshoeing. The hike is moderate to strenuous but offers breathtaking scenery and fantastic views of Eightmile Lake and the surrounding mountain peaks. Along the way, you can spot some wildlife or marvel at waterfalls and wildflowers. 

Your journey starts at the Icicle Road parking lot, where you’ll find the signage that takes you on the Eightmile Trail. The trail is rocky, has some steep elevations, and is prone to gathering snow in the winter.

Note: Icicle Road is closed for this season due to snow removal efforts and will reopen as soon as the snow is cleared. 

20. Horseshoe Lake Trail

Horseshoe Lake
Image via Flickr: donjd2

Location: Central Cascades

Mileage: 16.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 2928 ft.

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

I suggest the Horseshoe Lake trail for the best summer hike in Washington. The strenuous route takes about 6 hours to complete – an ideal course for advanced hikers. Whether you’re looking for a run through the forest or an excellent camping site, Horseshoe Lake has all the fantastic scenery and natural features you need for an easy day trip from Seattle.

Be aware that the trail is slippery, rocky, and involves a lot of climbing. You’ll want to wear shoes with microspikes to prevent slipping and carry enough supplies to keep you going for hours.  

21. Blackbird Island

blackbird island 1

Location: Enchantment Park 

Mileage: 2.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 100 ft 

Pass Requirement: None

I’ve added the sweet and short Blackbird Island Trail to end this list. A trail that takes under an hour to complete with slight elevation and no pass required – ideal for a last-minute trip to Washington. 

Visitors choose this trail for stunning views of the forest, river, and beach. Here you can sprint through the path or take it easy as you stroll or birdwatch. Other activities include cross-country skiing, road biking, and snowshoeing. 

22. Lake Caroline and Windy Pass

Alpine Lake

Location: Central Cascades

Mileage: 11.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,100 ft.

Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Try out this challenging 10-hour Lake Caroline trail to test your agility and endurance. Lake Caroline is a picturesque trail that can be done in solitude for a calm hike through Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Climb the steep path and cross several streams and meadows to reach the shores of Lake Caroline.

The lake is a popular destination for camping, backpacking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. You’ll also get fantastic views of mountain peaks, lakes, tall pines, and other natural features.  

Note: You will need an Enchantments permit for overnight trips.

Which of these best hikes in Washington are you most excited to go on?

4 thoughts on “22 Best Hikes in Washington: Where to Go Hiking in Washington

  1. Andrea Maccarino says:

    Just returned from the North Cascades and it was beautiful, We did the Maple Loop pass trail until snow stopped us just below the pass. It was still a great hike. I would add Cascade Pass to your list, also a beautiful hike. So many places to hike in your beautiful state, can’t wait for another chance. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Marissa says:

    Heather Maple Loop is so beautiful, and I recommend going back in the fall if you can to see the foilage! I have so many North Cascades hikes on my list that I need to get done.

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