21 Amazing Winter Hikes in Washington to Explore All Season (2024)

washington winter hikes
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Washington State has some of the best hikes in the country, so it’s easy to see why so many people who live here consider hiking one of their favorite pastimes. While summer hikes are beautiful, there are also plenty of winter hikes in Washington that you can do throughout Seattle in the winter. I know many people tend to hibernate once it gets in the 30s around here, but hear me out – there are plenty of hikes you can still do that don’t even have snow involved!

I’ve been hiking around the state for years and have started exploring Washington winter hikes over the past few years. I was disappointed when winter came along and thought I had to stop hiking, but I realized that was not the case. There are many places to go this time of year, ranging from the peninsula to the mountains, and you can go just about anywhere as long as you have the right gear.

Yes, it is a lot colder during this time of year, but I love winter trails around Washington because they are much less crowded, you’re not fighting for parking spaces at the trailhead, and you can even do these on the weekends (which is rare during the busy summer hiking season!).

Based on my experience, I’ve put together this list of the best winter hikes in Washington. Whether you’re looking for winter hikes near Seattle with snow or Washington winter hikes without snowshoes, you’ll find something for you in this post.

How to Prepare for Washington Winter Hikes

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your Seattle winter hikes.

What to Know for Winter Hikes Near Seattle

Before you head out, make sure you do the following:

  • Check your hike’s trail conditions. I recommend doing this both on WTA and the AllTrails app. I use this so much that I bought the paid version, as you can read recent reviews, see pictures of the area, and even download maps to use. When I read reviews, I always check to see what people are saying about the trail’s current condition, even if the drive up there is a bit sketchy in places. Check out my AllTrails Pro review to find out more.
  • Check the weather. You’ll want to check the weather for the area your hike is in the night before as well as in the morning. You never know when the weather can turn, so you’ll want to be prepared. Certain parts of the state will have their main highways closed, such as trying to go hiking in North Cascades National Park, which closes in winter and spring.
  • Calculate how long it’ll take you. You’ll want to take into consideration the driving time there, how long you think it’ll take you to do the hike, and the driving time back. You may just want to book a nearby cabin in Washington to cut down on how long your day is.
  • Check the WTA website for alerts. The WTA has frequently updated alerts for Washington winter hikes so you’ll know if the trail is suddenly closed or if there’s something else to be aware of.
  • Bring your 10 essentials. While I’ll list extra items to bring below, make sure you have the 10 essentials for hiking.

What to Pack for Winter Hikes in Washington

You’ll want to wear the following clothing as the bare minimum, particularly if you’re going in the snow for your winter hiking in Washington. These are a combination of clothes that are moisture-wicking and quick-drying, as well as waterproof pants and boots that will keep your lower half dry. I have a complete list of winter hiking clothes that you’ll want to have for your next hike.

You can also check out my outdoor lover gift guide for more ideas about what to bring.

Icebreaker 200 Oasis Crew TopOutdoor Research Prologue Storm PantsKEEN Revel IV Mid Polar BootsSweet Turns Lexington Hat
Merino Wool TopWaterproof PantsWinter Hiking BootsBeanie

I also recommend bringing along the following and at least putting them in your car in case you need them:

  • Waterproof rain jacket – It’s essential to have a waterproof jacket so you don’t get soaking wet during rainy weather or snow. (buy on Backcountry or Amazon)
  • Poles – I’m not always a fan of poles, but you’ll need them for stability if you’re walking on snow or slippery surfaces. (buy on REI or Backcountry)
  • Snow baskets – These make it so your poles don’t sink as deep in the snow. (buy on Backcountry or REI)
  • Snowshoes – You’ll be able to “glide” over the snow, even when it’s really deep. These are crucial for many snow hikes in Washington.
  • Microspikes – Sometimes, a trail doesn’t have much snow, but you’ll need more traction than regular hiking boots, which is where microspikes come in handy.
  • Chains – While you’re probably thinking about what to wear for your hike, having your car prepared is just as important. Always make sure you have chains for your tires just in case (and know how to put them on if needed).

Where to Stay for Washington Winter Hikes

While you can easily do many of these hikes in one day, sometimes it’s best to get a place to stay overnight. That way, you can stay the night before your winter hike in Washington and start first thing in the morning, or you’ll have somewhere warm and cozy to come back to.

Here are some cabins I recommend staying in:

  • This Leavenworth cabin is close to various hikes in the Stevens Pass area and has beautiful views of the region. (rates start at $147 per night)
  • You’ll love staying at this cozy cabin when you’re hiking in the Snoqualmie Pass area. (rates start at $143 per night)
  • What’s better than hiking at Mount Rainier in the winter only to come back to this creekfront cabin(rates start at $168 per night)
  • This 2 bedroom house is perfect for small families or couples. It sleeps 5, sits on a 1.5-acre lot, and is minutes away from the local grocery store. (rates start at $161 per night)
  • This comfortable house is set along the beautiful Nisqually River bed. It sleeps six with a fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, outdoor fire pit, and hot tub on the property. (rates start at $222 per night)

21 Best Winter Hikes in Washington

Here are some of the best places to go winter hiking in Washington, sorted by area:

Stevens Pass Region

1. Scenic Hot Springs

scenic hot springs cascades

Location: Stevens Pass

Length: 4.0 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

Scenic Hot Springs is my favorite winter hike in Washington, which is why it’s at the top of this list. You’ll hike up a moderately steep hill and end up at hot springs – nothing feels better than soaking your muscles in warm water! You do need to make a reservation in advance, as only ten people can come here per day on this Stevens Pass winter hike.

I put moderate to hard because it depends on how much snow the area got the night before your Washington winter hike. The first time I attempted this without snowshoes, I had to go back because I kept sinking.

I was much better prepared with snowshoes and poles the second time and made it to the top just fine. This is a pretty steep hike, as you gain a good amount of elevation in only two miles. It’s definitely something to put on your bucket list for Washington State.

Changing in the snow is a bit tricky, so I actually hiked up in my swimsuit, took off my hiking clothes that were over it to get in the hot tub, and then just went to the side to change into dry clothes. Some people I know just hiked down in their wet clothes, but that sounds miserable, to be honest.

If you want to make a trip out of it, you’ll love staying in Leavenworth in the winter. This charming town is often covered in snow and makes you feel like you’re staying in Germany with its Bavarian theme. There are so many entertaining things to do in Leavenworth during your stay.

Here in the fall? Check out some of the best larch hikes in Washington.

2. Wallace Falls

wallace falls

Location: Gold Bar

Length: 5.6 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pass Required: Discover Pass

Wallace Falls is one of the more popular winter hikes in Washington, as it’s easy to access anytime throughout the year. While most of the trail is pretty straightforward, a series of switchbacks may cause beginner hikers to slow down. It’s also an ideal rainy day hike by Seattle to go on.

There are numerous falls to admire here, and you can stop at the Lower or Middle Falls if you don’t feel like going all the way. However, if you’re up for a challenge, I recommend continuing to the Upper Falls for amazing views during one of the best winter hikes near Seattle.

This trail is another good option for Washington winter hikes without snowshoes, as it’s far enough away from Stevens Pass that it likely won’t have snow. As always, check the weather conditions before you go.

You’ll pass through the city of Monroe to get here if you’re coming from Seattle, so make sure to stop and check out what to do in Monroe after, such as Route 2 Taproom or The Reptile Zoo. I recently explored this town for the day and found there was a lot more to do than I thought.

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

3. Barclay Lake

barclay lake

Location: Stevens Pass

Length: 4.4 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Barclay Lake is a beginner hike in Washington that’s great if you have kids who want to come along, as most of it is relatively flat. There may be some snow here when the pass gets heavy snowfall, but it tends to be snow-free for the most part.

However, like many Washington hiking trails in winter, it tends to get pretty muddy, so I recommend having a change of shoes in the car.

You’ll like two miles until you get to the lake, which is a perfect place for a quick snack and to admire the towering Baring Mountain. If you want to extend your hike, you can go all the way around the lake on one of the best day hikes in Washington.

Note: There was a huge fire in this area last year, and it’s currently predicted to be closed until December 2023, as they’re still taking down burnt trees. That said, I don’t know what the current conditions are, so always check the WTA page first.

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

Mountain Loop Highway

4. Lime Kiln Trail

lime kiln winter hike in washington

Location: Granite Falls

Length: 7.0 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 625 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Lime Kiln Trail is one of the best winter hikes near Seattle, as it’s easy to do almost any time during the year. You’ll walk along a river in a mossy forest that’s a fairly easy hike. The trail does get pretty muddy here when it’s recently rained, so make sure to have a change of shoes in your car.

There are plenty of scenic places to take pictures here, including ferns and bridges. You’ll also love the historical aspect of this park, as you’ll find tons of artifacts the deeper you get into the trail.

The trail is the site of an old logging spur railroad, so you’ll find old bricks, part of a cast-iron stove, saw blades, and part of a steel rail. It’s also one of the easy winter hikes in Seattle you’ll love.

5. Heather Lake

Heather Lake

Location: Mountain Loop Highway

Length: 4.6 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 1034 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

I love hikes off Mountain Loop Highway because they tend to not be as crowded, particularly in the off-season, like the winter. While the hike isn’t particularly long, you do gain a good amount of elevation in a short period. Due to this, I would check out the trail report before you go and bring microspikes to help you gain traction.

While parts of the lake’s edge tend to be soggy depending on the weather, there are also boardwalks you can walk along once you get there.

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

Snoqualmie Pass Region

6. Twin Falls

Location: North Bend

Length: 2.6 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Twin Falls is at the top of the list for winter hikes near Seattle, as you won’t need to drive far. That means it can get crowded here, so I recommend coming earlier in the day.

You’ll want sturdy shoes for this winter hiking in Seattle, as the hill can get a little slick when it’s wet out. There are multiple places to see views of the river, so take your time to enjoy them and take pictures.

This is one of the shorter Snoqualmie winter hikes, so you may want a little something more. If you’re going to extend your snow adventure, you can book a snowshoeing tour in the area to explore even more on your Washington winter hikes.

7. Franklin Falls

franklin falls hike

Location: Snoqualmie Pass

Length: 2.0 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy

If you’re looking for winter waterfall hiking near Seattle, you’ll love this one, as it’s a fairly short drive. You’ll have a short trail to walk on through the forest and then end up at a waterfall. Depending on how cold it is outside, part of the waterfall might be frozen.

I want to note that while the trail is officially 2.0 miles roundtrip, the road to the parking lot might be closed depending on how much snow the area gets.

I had to park outside the gates when I went, which added several miles to the hike. However, it’s mainly flat, so it’s still reasonably easy. While you don’t need anything besides waterproof hiking boots, the end part of it can be a bit tricky as you walk down a hill to get to the waterfall. I’d recommend bringing poles or going slow at this point on your Seattle winter hike.

8. Gold Creek Pond

gold creek pond washington winter hikes

Location: Snoqualmie Pass

Length: 1.0 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 10 feet

Difficulty: Easy

I love Gold Creek Pond because, in my opinion, it’s the easiest winter hike in Washington. This is a very flat and short trail that almost anyone can do, and you can repeat the loop as many times as you want. I was actually pregnant and pretty sick the last time I did this, and it was still doable in that state.

However, you will need microspikes when snow is present, as many parts of this trail are in the shade and can be slippery.

A few things to note for this hike is sometimes the road leading to the parking lot closes or is full of snow or ice, so you’ll have to park on the street right after you get off the freeway. From there, you can just walk down the road to Gold Creek Pond (which adds about an extra half mile). You will also need a Sno-Parks Permit for this snowshoe hike in Washington.

This is also one of the best autumn hikes in Washington before the snow comes.

Blewett Pass

9. Wenatchee Crest

wenatchee crest

Location: Blewett Pass

Length: 6.0 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail is ideal when you’re looking for a more accessible snowshoeing trail, as it’s not too steep, and you can choose to go as far as you want. It’s easy enough to turn back halfway if you’re not up for the full six miles. There are many beautiful views of the valley that you’ll get as you snowshoe along.

I brought both my microspikes and snowshoes when I did this trail in February and ended up using both on different parts of the trail. You will also need a Sno-Parks Permit for this trail, so make sure to get that before you go.

Puget Sound Region

10. Meadowdale Beach Park

Location: Edmonds

Length: 2.5 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 425 feet

Difficulty: Easy

One of the easiest winter hikes in Seattle is Meadowdale Beach Park. I love going to this park whenever I want to walk through a forest without driving far. You’ll walk a little over a mile down the trail and go down a giant staircase, which is helpful when you’re coming back up.

At the bottom of the staircase, you’ll see the creek flowing to your left. When the tide goes out, you can walk pretty far to explore the beach. At the bottom of the trail, you can go left to a field with a picnic area or right to the beach.

The parking lot is pretty tiny, so I recommend going earlier in the day (although winter isn’t as busy as hiking in the summer). If it fills up, drive back up the hill and park in one of the neighborhoods nearby. However, it’s one of the best snow-free hikes in Washington, so you don’t have to worry about packing extra gear.

When you’re done, head over to the downtown area of town to explore all the things to do in Edmonds.

11. Discovery Park Loop Trail

Location: Seattle

Length: 2.8 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 140 feet

Difficulty: Easy

When you’re looking for winter hiking near Seattle, Discovery Park is one of the best Washington winter hikes without snowshoes when you feel like getting outside. There are a variety of trails you can do at the park, but the loop trail lets you see a good portion of the park. The trail is also family-friendly and one of the best easy hikes near Seattle during the winter.

I love this trail because it has a variety of terrain. You’ll walk through the forest, explore a meadow, and end up at the beach. My favorite part of this park is the lighthouse at the end of the beach.

Discovery Park is one of the more popular Seattle winter hikes, so parking can be tight. However, there are different parking lots here, so head to the next one to look for a spot if one is full.

12. Lord Hill Regional Park

lord hill state park

Location: Snohomish

Length: 10.0 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

I like coming to Lord Hill because it’s one of the best winter hikes in Seattle if you feel like making up your own trail. There is a vast network of trails here, so you can add on multiple ones to make your hike longer if you want.

That’s why I put the difficulty rating of easy to moderate – you can do a few short trails if you want, or you can go up some of the steeper ones for a more challenging workout. This is also one of the excellent winter hikes near Seattle because the trail has decent coverage from the rain with the trees.

There are benches throughout the park, which is nice if you need a break. You’ll also see streams and ponds along the trail, as well as old-growth trees. If you follow the path south, you’ll end up at the Snohomish River, which makes a scenic place to eat your snack during one of the closer winter hikes in Seattle.

When you’re done, there are many breweries in Snohomish to check out, so this makes a perfect hike and brewery combination.

13. Ebey’s Landing

ebeys landing hike

Location: Whidbey Island

Length: 5.6 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 260 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Some people prefer to go on snow-free hikes near Seattle, which is why I recommend visiting Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island. The area hardly ever gets snow due to its close location on the water, and it’s easy enough for most people to do due to a low elevation gain.

One note I will make is that you’ll be walking along a bluff by the water for a large portion of it, so make sure your little ones stick close to you. That said, I consider it one of the best things to do on Whidbey Island when you want to be active, and you can easily add it to a Whidbey day trip.

This is a beautiful Washington winter hike when you want to take a day trip near Seattle that isn’t too far away. You’ll have views of the water and the mountains on a clear day, which always makes me feel relaxed when I do this hike.

Be on the look out for historical artifacts during your winter hiking in Washington. You’ll see the house that the hike is named after, as well as a blockhouse. This is one of the best November hikes in Washington because the wind hasn’t picked up too much this time of year.

14. Oyster Dome

oyster dome hike

Location: Bellingham region

Length: 5.0 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 1,050 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Oyster Dome was one of my favorite hikes to do when I went to college in Bellingham. You get stunning views along the way of Samish Bay and all the islands in it. When it’s clear out, you can even see all the way to Canada! There are some switchbacks here that will make you out of breath, but they’re all worth it for the views.

Just a note – you have to park along Chuckanut Drive for this hike, and you need to park within the white lines on the road unless you want to risk being towed. Also, be careful not to leave any valuables in your car (as with any hike, but especially here due to the high amount of traffic).

Olympic Peninsula

15. Hall of Moses

rain forest things to do in olympic national park

Location: Pacific Coast

Length: 0.8 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Difficulty: Easy

I love going on winter hikes during a day trip to Olympic National Park, as the forest seems so magical this time of year. There are a variety of trails you can go on whether you want to be in the rainforest or by the coast, but Hall of Moses is one of the easiest ones.

In addition to getting exercise in, you can also educate yourself with all the signs you’ll find along the way. It’s a nice way to slow down and learn about what you’re looking at instead of running through the path, making it one of the best Seattle winter hikes.

16. Sol Duc Falls

Location: Northern Coast

Length: 1.6 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy

This trail is another beautiful one you’ll love due to the waterfall at the end of it. If you’re on an Olympic Peninsula road trip, it’s easy to add this to your itinerary. You can choose to stay at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort for the night or a nearby vacation rental, or you can check out the many places to stay in Olympic National Park.

You’ll also be close to many small Washington towns if you like exploring those. This does take about 30 minutes to get to from the main road, but it’s worth it. My kids loved being able to hike most of it by themselves, and the waterfall is stunning.

Note: I recommend checking the current conditions before going, as this area can get snowy, and some roads may close.

17. Marymere Falls

Location: Northern Coast

Length: 1.8 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Of the many Washington state winter hikes to choose from in the Olympic Peninsula region, this is one of the more popular ones. Marymere Falls is one of the best Olympic National Park hikes because it’s an easy, flat hike that leads to a waterfall (one of the best waterfalls in Washington!).

I’ve done this hike at least half a dozen times at this point because it’s simple but rewarding at the end. It is important to note that while almost all of it is flat, the end to get to the waterfall does have a steep staircase you have to go on.

This area also makes for beautiful pictures if there’s a dusting of light snow, and you can visit the nearby Lake Crescent afterward for more photos. While I love this as a spring hike, it’s an easy one to do during the winter.

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.

Mount Rainier

18. Paradise

paradise winter hiking washington

Location: Mount Rainier

Length: Varies

Elevation Gain: Varies

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

One of the most scenic winter hikes in Washington is the Paradise area at Mount Rainier, which is also one of the best hikes at Mount Rainier this time of year. Paradise gets an average of 643 inches of snow per year, so it’s guaranteed you can find snow up here during a Mount Rainier day trip any time during the winter.

You can come up here in your regular winter hiking boots early in the season, but I recommend visiting here for snowshoe hikes near Seattle for most of the winter season. Walking around with snowshoes is much easier with how deep the snow gets, and you’ll be able to explore more of this Washington national park.

I recommend checking in with a ranger if they’re available to see what the snow conditions are before you begin. They can let you know an excellent area to go if you’re a beginner or places to avoid avalanche danger on one of the best snow hikes in Washington.

You’ll need to pay an entrance fee of $30 per car or buy an America the Beautiful pass so you can access any national park in the United States as much as you want. I also recommend buying chains for your car if you need them on the drive up for your snow hikes near Seattle. You can read my whole article on visiting Mount Rainier in the winter to prepare for your trip.

When you’re done, head over to a cabin near Mt. Rainier to spend the night.

19. Narada Falls to Reflection Lake

narada falls

Location: Longmire

Length: 5.0 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 1,150 feet

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

When you’re looking for snowshoe hikes in Washington that aren’t as crowded, this path is a great one. Many people stop at Narada Falls, which you can see from the parking lot, but you’ll need snowshoes most of the season to continue on the rest of this journey.

The beginning of this is tough, and you gain a large amount of elevation in a short time. If you can get past that, the rest is much flatter and a lot easier.

Washington Coast

20. Cape Disappointment State Park

cape disappointment washington winter hikes

Location: Ilwaco

Length: Varies

Elevation Gain: Varies

Difficulty: Varies

There are various Washington winter hikes to go on at Cape Disappointment, so you can choose to do one or go on multiple ones in a day. One of the most popular is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Trail, which is only about a one-mile roundtrip trek and leads to a beautiful lighthouse.

If you’re looking for long winter hikes in Washington, check out the North Head Trail. This 6.3-mile trail goes through the forest and ends up with views of a fort and lighthouse. There’s a moderate elevation gain at 1,190 feet.

After your hike, head north to check out all the things to do in Long Beach. There are restaurants, breweries, and shops to fill the rest of your afternoon. You’ll want to spend a whole weekend here if it fits with your schedule.

21. Ozette Triangle Loop Trail

backpacking olympic coast

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Length: 9.4 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

The Ozette Triangle is one of the best winter hikes in Washington State if you want to be near the coast. While you can do this hike in one day, it’s also a great destination if you’re going to try winter backpacking in Washington.

If you want to camp overnight, you’ll need to get a permit and a bear canister. I did see a bear and her cubs on the beach halfway through my hike, so it’s good to be aware they’re in the area.

While the coast rarely gets snow, you will want to prepare for rain and potential wind during this time of year. Two-thirds of the walk is through the forest, while the other third is on the beach. The beach hike takes the most time, as you’ll be navigating slippery rocks and seaweed for three miles.

During one of the most scenic Washington winter hikes, make sure to check out Tskawahyah Island and Wedding Rocks while you’re on the beach. You’ll enjoy viewing all of the ancient petroglyphs that the Makah Tribe left behind in this area.

If you want to make a trip out of visiting the Olympic Peninsula, you can drive down a few hours south for a weekend in Ocean Shores.

By now, you should have plenty of ideas for winter hikes in Washington to go on! Whether you go on winter hikes near Seattle or venture out further to the coast, there are plenty of places you can still hike during the winter season.

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