The American Pacific Northwest is home to many unforgettable national parks and stunning views. To experience these sights, consider exploring one of the many fantastic hiking trails in Washington State.
If you’re looking for a highly accessible hiking trail, then Cascade Pass is right for you. Located in North Cascades National Park, this trail is one of the easier ones. However, the lack of difficulty doesn’t take away from the stunning mountainous views. Catch glimpses of the Cascade peaks and the numerous valleys formed by massive glaciers thousands of years ago. The trail is 7 miles long round trip and features elevation gains of 2,000 feet.
Be aware that Cascade Pass Trail is one of the most popular destinations in the Pacific Northwest, making the trail often crowded.
Goat Rocks Crest Trail is part of the 500-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail. The Goat Rocks Crest portion lies between Chinook Pass and White Pass and takes you through the stunning Goat Rocks Wilderness. If the weather is clear, you’ll spot Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainer, and other smaller mountains.
The Goat Rocks Crest Trail is 28 miles long and features elevation gains of 2,000 feet. Due to its length, you’ll want to pack your camping gear. Luckily, the trail has good campsites to get you through your journey. Make sure you have the proper hiking gear, too, as this trail is very exposed to the elements.
The Enchantments Trail is among the most difficult treks on this list. It spans over 20 miles and features elevation gains of 4,500 feet. Most hikers spend a few days camping alongside the trail, which does require a permit from the Okanagon-Wenatchee National Forest from May 15 to October 31. This permit gives you overnight camping access to the Core Enchantment Zone, Snow Lake Zone, Colchuck Lake Zone, Stuart Lake Zone, and Eightmile/Caroline Zone. If you can’t secure a permit and are an expert hiker, though, you can attempt the journey over one long, grueling day.
So why is this challenge so worth the sweat and tears? The Enchantments takes you through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, home to the aforementioned Okanagon-Wenatchee National Forest. This national park is home to stunning views of the Alpine Lakes and glimpses of native Washington State wildlife. The most extreme hikers can consider tackling the Aasgard Pass for the most epic views in the Pacific Northwest.
If intense hiking isn’t your mojo, consider the more family-friendly Sol Duc Falls Trail. It’s only 2 miles in length, extending to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park. From there, you can hike further into the wilderness or take some time to rest and relax. The trail ultimately leads to Seven Lakes Basin, which is home to amazing views of rolling meadows and alpine lakes.
The true draw of this trail is the Sol Duc River, which beautifully cascades through the national forest. Or spend some time at the resort to enjoy a spa session or the mineral baths. Overnight camping permits are required for this trail.
Skyline Trail is located in the legendary Mount Rainier National Park. This makes it one of the most popular destinations in the state—be prepared for a heavy crowd of other hikers during the summer months.
This journey is a little over 5 miles long, connecting to many other routes for you to explore along the way. Look out for a view of Narada Falls, or spend time in Spray Park. If you’re up for the challenge, book a guided tour of the world-famous Mount Rainier.
If you plan to stay longer in Mount Rainier National Park, consider embarking on the 93-mile-long Wonderland Trail. You’ll need a permit to camp overnight, which is given out lottery style beginning on March 15—don’t worry, many permits are available for walk-up hikers throughout the season. This permit gives you 14 days of travel and camping, and this two-week experience is truly wonderful, as the name of the trail suggests. You’ll find breathtaking views of alpine lakes, river crossings, and sprawling meadows. Plus, you can brag to all your hiker friends that you completed this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Most of these trails are located in the western parts of Washington State, leaving the eastern section oft overlooked. Luckily, you can discover the Steamboat Rock Trail, which is typically less crowded than the other trails on this list. This trek involves much climbing as you summit the basalt butte, which juts over 800 feet into the air. Once you’re on top, take in the breathtaking views of Banks Lake, formed thousands of years ago.
If scenic mountain views aren’t your thing, consider venturing down into one of the most extensive lava tubes in North America. Ape Cave Trail is a 2-mile-long, completely subterranean trek located in Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument that offers a truly unique hiking experience. Remember to pack all of your essential hiking gear, especially an adequate light source to guide the way.
It’s common and encouraged for hikers to remain peaceful and mostly silent during the trek—this provides the perfect opportunity for hikers to disconnect from the modern world and truly be present in nature. For an easier experience, consider traveling through the Lower Cave Trail, which is less than a mile long and requires less climbing.
Located at the Rainy Pass in North Cascades National Park, Lake Ann Trail will take you through the smaller Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Mount Baker is one of the most stunning peaks in Washington State, so don’t forget to soak in the views. Additionally, you can get great angles of the equally beautiful Mount Shuksan. Be warned that this 8-mile trek will bring you almost 2,000 feet in elevation, and you’ll pass through many large obstacles. It’s not the simplest hike in the state, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Exploring these amazing Washington state hiking trails is something that every adventurous individual should experience once in their lives. The American Pacific Northwest is home to fantastic views and excellent wildlife—and, as an added bonus, our outdoor store in Bellevue Square! Give us a visit to stock up on all the essential hiking gear and clothing for your epic journey—we’ll be so happy to see you!
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