17 Easy Hikes in Washington State to Explore This Year

Easy Hikes In Washington Trail
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If you live in Washington, you likely know at least one person who always talks about the next hike they’ll be doing. Many of us love hiking like no other and will spend a weekend hiking miles upon miles, but that’s not doable for everyone. That’s why I’ve slowly been compiling a list of easy hikes in Washington for people who may just be getting into hiking, hiking with kids, or feeling like a less strenuous day out.

While I love planning challenging trips, like summitting Mount Saint Helens, I also like taking hikes that sometimes don’t require as much training. This also makes it easier to find friends willing to do short, easy Washington hikes with me.

This article lists some of my tips for beginner hikes in Washington and a list of some of the best hiking in Washington based on my experience.

Planning Tips for Easy Washington Hikes

Hiking in Washington State is one of my absolute favorite things to do. From waterfall hikes near Seattle to winter hikes in Washington, the state boasts exhilarating trails.

Although the upcoming spots are beginner-friendly, it’s essential to prioritize comfort and safety. So, before you head out, here are a few preparations to keep in mind:

  • Consider the elevation gain, overall distance, and fitness level when choosing a trail.
  • Check the Washington Trail Association website for recent reports and alerts.
  • Download or print a map of the trail.
  • Check the weather conditions beforehand.
  • Keep a mini first-aid kit in your hiking backpack.
  • Wear and pack appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes.
  • Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, UV protective clothing, and a high-quality hat.
  • Always carry a water bottle to stay hydrated along the way.

17 Easy Hikes in Washington to Check Out

eastside trail rainier hikes

Now, let’s look at the top easy hikes Washington has to offer. These trails feature less than five miles of roundtrip hiking – perfect for beginners, families, or adventurers looking for a short stroll. 

1. Barclay Lake

barclay lake

Location: Central Cascades

Distance: 4.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

The Barclay Lake trail offers a spectacular family-friendly hike and is one of my favorite places to hike in summer. It is easy to navigate and not too steep, with gradual inclines and descents. Most of the hiking trail winds along Barclay Creek, which you’ll cross on a log bridge about 1.2 miles into the hike (and is an ideal photo spot). 

As you make your way to Barclay Lake, the view of Baring Mountain gets all the attention. This scenic Washington hiking trail provides a peaceful experience as you relax on the banks of the tranquil Barclay Lake and admire the awe-inspiring views. 

As the parking lot can only accommodate a small number of vehicles, it’s best to arrive early to get a spot closer to the trailhead. 

Note: Due to the Bolt Creek Fire, this hike is currently closed until December 2023.

2. Gold Creek Pond

gold creek pond washington winter hikes

Location: Snoqualmie Region

Distance: 1 mile, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 10 feet

This paved loop trail is an all-time favorite when it comes to an easy hike near Seattle. The hike features a magnificent mountain pond at the top of Snoqualmie Pass. The flat terrain makes it one of the best Washington hikes, as it’s perfect for young children and parents pushing strollers in the summer. 

It’s an excellent spot for kids to walk independently, and dogs are allowed on the trail – but you’ll have to keep them on a leash. There are also several picnic tables surrounded by breathtaking wilderness. Picnicking is best enjoyed during fall and spring, as you won’t find many shady spots in summer. 

In the wintertime, the Gold Creek Pond is an exceptional snowshoeing destination for beginners and kids. If you’re heading to the mountains during the colder seasons, check out this guide on winter hiking clothes for a comfy adventure. 

Note: The parking lot is closed during winter, so you’ll have to park on the street. You also need a Sno-Park Permit for this hike in the winter, which you can buy online in advance.

3. Meadowdale Beach Park

meadowdale beach park hike

Location: Puget Sound and Islands (Edmonds)

Distance: 2.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 425 feet

If you’re looking for a scenic Washington State hiking trail with beach access, the Meadowdale Beach Park trail is ideal. It is a haven of native forest vegetation and boasts a wooded ravine with a bubbling creek. The path is open year-round for hiking and leashed dog walks. It’s a great rainy day hike, and you’ll want to have the best rain gear in the Pacific Northwest.

The trail features countless Western redcedar, bigleaf maple, salmonberry understory, and Sitka spruce. As you make your way to Lunds Gulch Creek, you’ll come across a bridge about one mile into the hike. Here you can spot several fish species, such as salmon, cutthroat trout, steelhead, and sculpin. 

There is also a grassy field with a sheltered picnic area, restrooms, and a volleyball field. At the far end of the field, you’ll find a tunnel that leads to the beach, where you can enjoy beautiful coastal views. 

This trail is one of the best easy hikes in Washington state when you don’t want to drive too far. You can then head into town for lunch and find what to do in Edmonds for the afternoon.

4. Naches Peak Loop

naches peak loop hike

Location: Mount Rainier Area

Distance: 3.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

This popular Washington trail offers a beginner-friendly hike that starts at Tipsoo Lake. The area is filled to the brim with alpine scenery. It is my go-to spot during the summer as one of the best hikes in Mount Rainier, as the wildflowers bloom and brighten the grassy meadows. You’ll also love coming here in the fall thanks to it being one of the best fall hikes in Washington.

The kid-friendly loop follows the Naches Peak Trail on the southern side and the Pacific Crest Trail on the northern side. Although you can hike it in either direction, I recommend doing it clockwise for astounding views of Mount Rainier. Coming at either sunrise or sunset is a particularly stunning time for photography, so allow for ample time if doing a one-day trip to Mount Rainier.

The trail is set on both national forest land and in a national park. As such, only certain parts are dog-friendly. Dogs are not allowed on Mount Rainier, so it’s best to consult the trail map to find dog-friendly locations. However, some Mt. Rainier cabin rentals do allow dogs.

5. Twin Falls

twin falls hike

Location: Snoqualmie Region, North Bend

Distance: 2.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Twin Falls is one of the best hiking trails in Washington State that’s perfect for beginners, kids, and pups on a leash. The trail offers easy hiking near Seattle and is accessible year-round. My favorite time to do this enjoyable hike is during the warmer seasons. 

The lush green forests boast breathtaking blooms during spring and early summer. You’ll find an abundance of skunk cabbage during spring hiking in Washington and salmonberries in the summer. 

The main attraction is the staggering 230-foot waterfall which features a horsetail drop of more than 135 feet. The Homestead Valley trailhead offers a beginner-friendly route to reach the breathtaking falls. As you hike along the Iron Horse Trail, you’ll join the Twin Falls Trail which leads to the gorgeous waterfall.

There are also plenty of great breweries in the area, making it a good choice for a hike and brewery combo. Volition Brewing Co. is a great kid-friendly brewery to check out.

6. Discovery Park

discovery park easy hikes in washington

Location: Magnolia, Seattle

Distance: 11.8 miles of walking trails

Elevation Gain: Average elevation changes of 140 feet

Discovery Park is on the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle and one of the most popular easy hikes in Washington. The 534-acre park offers 12 miles of scenic trails that are perfect for beginner hikes in Washington. The park features a lighthouse, protected tidal beaches, sea cliffs, active dunes, wildlife, and awe-inspiring wilderness. 

Discovery Park is home to some of the best trails in Washington. A few of my top picks for a leisurely walk include the Discovery Park and Lighthouse Loop Trail, South Beach Trail, as well as the Birds Nest and Lookout Beach Trail. You’ll also find the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Centre within the park, plus it’s one of the best scenic drives in Seattle if you wind through the park. 

7. Marymere Falls

marymere falls easy washington hikes

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Distance: 1.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

The Marymere Falls Trail offers exhilarating western Washington hikes near Joyce. It is one of the best trails in the Olympic National Park and features towering trees and spectacular views of Lake Crescent. This hike is perfect to add to a one-day Olympic National Park itinerary since it’s fairly short. 

The trail starts at Storm King Ranger Station or Lake Crescent Lodge and is suitable for every skill level. It is ideal for those looking to unwind with a short waterfall hike or guided tour. Most of the trail is flat, with the last part being a steep climb up stairs to the waterfall. This part isn’t suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

For more western Washington hiking inspiration, check out this guide on Olympic National Park hikes

Note: Dogs are not allowed on the trail.

8. Blue Lake

Location: North Cascades

Distance: 4.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,050 feet

The Blue Lake Trail is off the North Cascades Highway and boasts magnificent alpine scenery and lake views. One of my favorite easy hikes in Washington, it’s also a good one when you want a scenic trail kids can go on during one day in North Cascades.

As its name suggests, you’ll come across a glistening blue lake. The icy, crystal-clear water is perfect for cooling off your feet after your walk – and if you’re adventurous, you can take a dip too. 

Although it is more challenging than some of the other hikes on this list, it is still doable for most adventurers. It is suitable for both kids and dogs too. This hike is delightful during fall as the area displays awe-inspiring fall foliage and larches, making it one of the best larch hikes in Washington.

If you’re looking to extend your outing, head to the Washington Pass Lookout for magnificent views of Liberty Mountain. It’s only 0.8 miles from the Blue Lake trailhead via Highway 20. 

This trail gets snow in the winter, so make sure to pack appropriate hiking gear for the trip. It’s definitely a hike for your Washington bucket list!

9. Franklin Falls

franklin falls hike

Location: Snoqualmie Region

Distance: 2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Nestled near Snoqualmie Pass, Franklin Falls offers one of the top short hikes in Washington. It is a safe trail that features rock steps, walls, and bridges that make it perfect for little hikers. 

The star of the show is, of course, the gorgeous Franklin Falls. The waterfall features three drops with a total depth of 135 feet. The trail is accessible year-round, and it is also an excellent snowshoe destination during winter. 

Note: Franklin Falls is a popular trail, so it’s best to arrive early to get a good parking spot. If there are no spaces in the main parking area at the trailhead, you can find more parking half a mile past the bridge and trailhead.

Also, during the winter, the road to the parking lot is closed, so you’ll have to park just outside of it and walk a few extra miles in (although it is all flat). You may want to bring microspikes depending on how much snow and ice there is.

10. Dege Peak

dege peak hikes mt rainier

Location: Mount Rainier Area

Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

The Dege Peak Trail offers one of the top Washington hikes in the park. It is nestled in the Sunrise Area and boasts beautiful wildflowers. From the Sunrise parking lot, you can see the trail go along the right side of the hill (the only one that veers to the right).

While the elevation gain is minimal, most of it is at the start and end of the trail, so pace yourself. It does even out around the first mile, so you’ll be able to relax and catch your breath.

In addition to the mighty Mount Rainier, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of surrounding peaks, including Mount St. Helens, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams. On your way back, there are beautiful views of the meadows nearby on this easy Washington hike.

Note: Sunrise Road is open between mid-summer and early fall. The winter snow usually clears by early July, but It’s best to check the status of the road before heading out.

11. Hall of Mosses

hall of moses easy hikes washington

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Distance: 0.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 100 feet

The Hall of Mosses is an iconic loop that’s ideal for those with kids looking for easy hikes in Washington. The trail begins at Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Centre in the Olympic National Park. As you walk through the lush rainforest, you’ll find plenty of educational signage about the area.

The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the country. It is home to the Hoh River that was created thousands of years ago by glaciers.

The Hall of Mosses is one of the best trails in Washington to keep kids entertained. There are plenty of wildlife sighting opportunities, from banana slugs on the forest floor to elk strolling through the moss-covered trees and ferns. To fully experience the ancient rainforests, consider booking a guided tour

Note: No dogs are allowed on the trail.

12. Sage Hills

hiking sage hills

Location: Wenatchee

Distance: 5.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 650 feet

Sage Hills had been on my bucket list forever, and I finally got to do it this year to see the wildflowers. It is now easily one of my favorite easy hikes in Washington as well as one of my favorite spring hikes. The trailhead is located in a neighborhood with a very small parking lot, so I recommend getting here early if it’s peak wildflower season, as you’re not allowed to park in front of people’s homes.

This hike has a slow elevation gain and you’ll have beautiful views of the surrounding hills as well as the city of Wenatchee below. There is no shade at all on this trail, so keep that in mind if you’re coming here during the warm summer months.

The trail is also popular with bikers, so make sure to watch out for them to let them get around. It’s a network of trails, so you can make this as short or as long as you want.

13. Heybrook Lookout

heybrook lookout

Location: Central Cascades

Distance: 2.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 850 feet

The Heybrook Lookout Trail offers a short hike near Index. It is a pleasant beginner-friendly walk, but you do gain a good amount of elevation in a short time.

The hike begins on the west side of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest parking lot. From here, you’ll walk amongst a fern and moss-covered forest for about 1.3 miles until reaching the epic lookout.

This magnificent vista point stands at a staggering 1,700 feet tall on Heybrook Ridge. The lookout rises around 67 feet above the ridgeline and offers awe-inspiring views of Mount Index, Mount Baring, and surrounding glacial peaks. If you’re not ready to walk up the lookout stairs, there is a picnic area nearby where you can relax and have a little snack break.

14. Second Beach

second beach

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Distance: 4.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 310 feet

If you’re looking for a quick hike with breathtaking coastal views, you’ll find it at Second Beach near the small town of La Push. At the beginning of the trail, you’ll walk through a forest area before you reach the sandy beach.

At Second Beach, you’ll encounter breathtaking ocean views and sea stacks. If you hike towards the north side of the beach, you will find a natural arch formation, while the south side offers a more lengthy walk. This coastal experience is an excellent option for a sunset hike.

Note: Parking is limited as the main lot can only accommodate around ten cars, but you’ll find more spaces east of the main parking area on one of the most scenic easy hikes in Washington.

15. Moulton Falls

moulton falls

Location: Southwest Washington, Vancouver Area

Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 90 feet

The Moulton Falls Trail is set in a peaceful environment and follows along the Lewis River. It offers a leisurely stroll on a wide, well-maintained trail that’s ideal for kids and walking dogs on a leash. 

On the hike, you’ll come across an arch bridge that offers picturesque views of the Lewis River. It is one of the best spots to take pictures with a scenic backdrop of the flowing river. 

Moulton Falls is a popular summer hiking spot as locals love splashing in the small pools and soaking up the sun. Swimming or dipping your feet in the river is a great way to cool down during an enjoyable hike, but keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on duty. 

Note: Swimming at Lucia Falls (at the end of the trail) is not allowed. 

16. Pinnacle Saddle

pinnacle saddle

Location: Mount Rainier Area, Cayuse Pass/Steven’s Canyon

Distance: 2.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

If you’re seeking a telescope-quality view of iconic Mount Rainier, the Pinnacle Saddle trail is the perfect hike. You’ll enjoy views of thick forests and the lush Nisqually River valley. While the mileage is short, you do gain a good amount of elevation quickly, so be aware of that.

At around 0.6 miles into the hike, you’ll encounter partial views of Mount Rainier and a seasonal stream. A bit further on, the trail becomes a bit rockier and steeper until you reach the impressive cliffs and endpoint views. 

Note: Dogs are not allowed on the trail.

17. Windy Ridge

Windy Ridge Viewpoint

Location: South Cascades, Mount St. Helens

Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

The Windy Ridge Trail is an incredible hike near Cougar. It offers a scenic drive and a spectacular hiking trail. If you’re hiking in summer, I’d recommend an early morning or late afternoon hike for a cooler, more refreshing experience.

It is an excellent Washington trail for beginners and kids, as you won’t need to go too high up for breathtaking views. However, dogs are not allowed, so your furry family members would have to sit this one out.

The hike features moderately steep stairs above Windy Ridge, where you can enjoy views of the glistening Spirit Lake and Mount Rainier. 

Leave a comment below and let me know which one of the easy hikes in Washington you’re most excited for!

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