20 Easy Hikes in Washington State to Explore in 2024 (A Local’s Guide)

Easy Hikes In Washington Trail
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As a native of Washington and a keen hiking enthusiast, I can personally attest to the exhilarating rush of planning your next great adventure in the great outdoors. However, I know that not everyone has the necessary time or experience for challenging treks. That’s why I wrote this comprehensive guide featuring some of the most accessible and easy hikes in Washington. Whether you’re a beginner hiker, going with the family, or just want to take it slow, you’ll love these options.

While I love nothing more than going on an all-day hike, sometimes I’m with friends who prefer doing only a couple of miles, or I only have the morning to hit the trails, so I always go back to this list of beginner hikes in Washington. I’ve even done a few multiple times because they’re so scenic!

I’ll be sharing with you my personally curated selection of the most scenic yet accessible hikes that Washington has to offer. I’ll also save you all the research, as each section has all the necessary details, such as location, distance, and elevation gain, to help you decide the perfect hike to suit your skill level and personal preferences.

Whether you’re a novice in the world of hiking or simply in search of a new experience at a gentler pace, this guide is your one-stop solution for discovering the best easy hikes in Washington that are waiting to be explored. So dust off your hiking boots, and let’s venture into the wilderness together!

This post was first written in 2021 and last updated in 2023.

Planning Tips for Easy Washington Hikes

Hiking in Washington State is one of my absolute favorite things to do. From waterfall hikes around 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.

Best Time to Hike in Washington

If you ask me or any other hiking-obsessed Washington native, I’ll tell you that any time of the year is great for hiking. However, I know not everyone likes hiking in inclement weather or has the winter hiking safety knowledge that’s necessary.

The best time to hike in Washington State largely depends on the specific trail you’re interested in and the weather conditions. However, here are some general recommendations:

1. Late Spring to Early Fall (May to October): The weather during this time is usually mild, and trails are most accessible, making it the best time for most hikers. However, this is also the busiest time on the trails, so prepare for some company.

2. Summer (June to August): If you’re interested in higher altitude hikes or trails in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, summer is the best time. Many of these trails are covered in snow until late spring and early summer.

3. Fall (September to November): This is a beautiful time to hike in Washington, especially in the lower elevations. The fall colors are stunning, and the trails are less crowded.

4. Winter (December to March): While some trails may be impassable due to snow and winter conditions, many low-elevation coastal and forest trails can still be hiked when you’re looking for active things to do in Seattle in winter. Winter hiking requires additional precautions and gear, so it’s typically more suited to experienced hikers.

Regardless of when you plan to hike, always check the current trail conditions and weather forecast before heading out. The National Park Service and Washington Trails Association websites provide up-to-date information.

20 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

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Trail report

The Barclay Lake trail offers a spectacular family-friendly hike in Washington 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. I love bringing a picnic to eat at the lake and having a well-deserved rest.

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

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Trail report

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. 

I love this hike because it’s a safe place for kids to walk by themselves, especially the younger ones, plus 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 in Washington, as you won’t find many shady spots in summer. 

In the wintertime, the Gold Creek Pond is my favorite 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. It’s the perfect short hike near Seattle when you want to get outside.

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.

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

3. Meadowdale Beach Park

meadowdale beach park hike

Location: Puget Sound and Islands (Edmonds)

Distance: 2.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 425 feet

Pass Required: None

Trail report

If you’re looking for a scenic Washington State hiking trail with beach access, the Meadowdale Beach Park trail is ideal. This is a hike I do once at least every few months because it’s close, plus I always have friends who want to do it.

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

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Trail report

This popular Washington trail offers a beginner-friendly hike that starts at Tipsoo Lake. 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 during autumn in Seattle, thanks to it being one of the best fall hikes in Washington (it’s absolutely stunning – trust me!).

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. I last did this hike in the fall of 2022 and arrived by 7 am to capture the gorgeous sunrise.

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 in Mount Rainier National Park, so it’s best to consult the trail map to find dog-friendly locations. However, some Mt. Rainier cabin rentals do allow dogs.

You should also note that you can’t do this during Mount Rainier in the winter, as Highway 410 closes down.

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.

5. Twin Falls

twin falls hike

Location: Snoqualmie Region, North Bend

Distance: 2.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Pass Required: Discover Pass

Trail report

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.

I took my toddler with me last time, and he loved being able to get out of his hiking backpack to stop and look at the falls. My favorite time to do this enjoyable hike is during the warmer seasons, but you can do it in the winter. 

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 top breweries near Seattle, making it a good choice for a hike and brewery combo. Volition Brewing Co. is a great family-friendly brewery by Seattle to check out.

6. Discovery Park Loop Trail

discovery park easy hikes in washington

Location: Magnolia, Seattle

Distance: 2.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 140 feet

Pass Required: None

Trail report

Discovery Park is on the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle and is one of the most popular easy hikes in Washington. I’ve actually been here dozens of times because it’s a very popular field trip spot for local schools, so I have plenty of fond memories of exploring the area when I was young.

The 534-acre park offers 12 miles of scenic trails that are perfect for beginner hikes in Washington. The area 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 because it’s a network of trails you can choose from. 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. You’ll love all the easy hikes in Seattle available at this park.

7. Marymere Falls

marymere falls easy washington hikes

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Distance: 1.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Pass Required: None

Trail report

The Marymere Falls Trail 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 for adding to a one-day Olympic National Park itinerary since it’s fairly short. I’ve also done this hike multiple times, as it’s kid-friendly and perfect for those who don’t like hiking.

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

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Trail report

The Blue Lake Trail is off the North Cascades Highway and boasts magnificent alpine scenery and lake views. It’s one of my favorite easy hikes in Washington, and 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. Summer is a beautiful time to go, but you’ll also see larches if you go in the fall. I loved hiking here last fall and enjoying the solitude of the lake.

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!

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

9. Franklin Falls

franklin falls hike

Location: Snoqualmie Region

Distance: 2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Trail report

Nestled near Snoqualmie Pass, Franklin Falls is 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 (as I can attest to from my kids coming with). 

The star of the show is, of course, the gorgeous Franklin Falls. The waterfall features three drops with a total depth of 135 feet, making it one of the best easy hikes near Seattle that’s scenic. 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.

This trail is currently closed until the end of summer 2023 due to construction.

10. Dege Peak

dege peak hikes mt rainier

Location: Mount Rainier Area

Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Pass Required: National Park Pass

Trail report

The Dege Peak Trail offers one of the top Washington hikes in the park and is one of my new favorite hikes in Mt. Rainier. 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. I liked doing this trail last summer because it wasn’t very crowded, but you can also see the visitor’s center for most of it, so you don’t feel like you’re deep in the wilderness alone.

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

Pass Required: National Park Pass

Trail report

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, which is one of my favorite national parks in Washington State. 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, which 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

Pass Required: None

Trail report

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. I brought my baby with me when I did this, and it was perfectly doable with him on my back, plus my camera gear. However, 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

Pass Required: None

Trail report

The Heybrook Lookout Trail is one of the most popular easy hikes near Seattle due to its proximity to major cities. 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. Despite the incline, it’s still one of the best easy hikes near Seattle.

Looking for a harder hike? Read all about how to climb Mount St. Helens.

14. Cutthroat Lake

cutthroat lake hike

Location: North Cascades

Distance: 3.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Trail report

This was one of the most recent North Cascades hikes I did last fall, and I loved how easy yet scenic it was. My friend and I had wanted to do the much longer Cutthroat Pass, at 10 miles long, but the smoke from nearby wildfires prevented that. However, I loved doing this flat hike that rewarded us with larches in early October.

The trail begins with a bridge across Cutthroat Creek, which is for pedestrians and horses alike. The path is wide and somewhat flat, and after 1.7 miles, the trail splits off to the right and leads up to Cutthroat Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail. Take a left to reach the lake after crossing a log footbridge over a brook. There is no set path around the lake, but you can stretch out on the grassy shoreline.

15. Bench and Snow Lakes

bench and snow lakes mt rainier hikes

Location: Mount Rainier

Distance: 2.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 610 feet

Pass Required: National Park Pass

Trail report

I did this hike to kill time during a recent photography trip to Mount Rainier, but wow, was I surprised by how beautiful these easy hikes near Seattle were. To be honest, I did no research ahead of time except see what the mileage was and just grabbed my hiking backpack and set off to explore the lakes on a beautiful August day.

This trail isn’t hard, but it goes up and down continuously almost the entire time. The first lake you’ll encounter if you take a detour is Bench Lake, which I wasn’t impressed with due to the water shortage at the time I went. However, this does give you a view of Rainier and could be stunning if you go after a period of rain.

Snow Lake is where it’s at, though – get back on the trail and continue to the end, where you’ll see a beautiful alpine lake with a background of mountains behind it. There were tons of people swimming here due to the warm day, but this was also one of the worst hikes for mosquitoes when I went, so I wasn’t that brave. Regardless, I still loved doing this hike.

16. Tieton River Nature Trail

Location: Yakima

Distance: 6.7 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Pass Required: Discover Pass

Trail report

Several summers ago, I took my young boys with me on a trip to explore Yakima, and the Tieton River Nature Trail was the first place on our itinerary. While it says that it’s a total of almost seven miles, we only did a few miles and turned around. That’s why I love that it’s almost completely flat and customizable for how far you want to hike.

You’ll have a stunning view of the river and the mountains as you hike along the trail. There are quite a few rattlesnakes here in the summer, but luckily they made themselves known with their sound, so we turned around without having to run into them. After you’re done, head into town and celebrate with a beer at The Kiln Taproom.

17. Moulton Falls

moulton falls

Location: Southwest Washington, Vancouver Area

Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 90 feet

Pass Required: None

Trail report

The Moulton Falls Trail is set in a peaceful environment and follows the Lewis River. It’s 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. 

18. Pinnacle Saddle

pinnacle saddle

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

Distance: 2.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Pass Required: National Park Pass

Trail report

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.

19. Second Beach

second beach

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Distance: 4.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 310 feet

Pass Required: None

Trail report

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.

20. Windy Ridge

Windy Ridge Viewpoint

Location: South Cascades, Mount St. Helens

Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Trail report

The Windy Ridge Trail is an incredible hike near Cougar, as 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 about!

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