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If you enjoy hiking and spending days out in nature, then Washington is one of the best places on the planet to be. Also known as the “Evergreen State,” there are state parks, national parks, national forests, and wilderness areas in each and every corner of Washington that just beg to be explored. While some of your hikes here might be a bit rainy, Washington also gets lots of sunshine each year to help you get out among the trees. These are a few of our favorite Washington hikes to check out next time you’re in the Pacific Northwest!
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Horseshoe Basin – North Cascades, East Slope
The North Cascades is a wonderful place to take a hike, especially between the months of July and October. One great hike here is Horseshoe Basin on the East Slope. The trail here is about 12 miles long and gains approximately 1,550 feet of elevation. This is a favorite hike among backpacking enthusiasts because you can extend this hike to be even longer and spend several days or even a week exploring the region.
Chain Lakes – Mount Baker National Forest
Mount Baker is known as the go-to ski destination for Seattle residents during the winter, but the forest in this region is perfect for hiking in the summer and fall too. For example, the Chain Lakes hike at Mount Baker can be between two and eight miles, depending on how long of a hiking day you’re looking for. The route gains about 1,700 feet in elevation and can be completed as an easy loop or a longer backpacking trip. Just be aware that there are several off-shoots of the trail, so bring a map so that you don’t get lost. The snow here often extends throughout the spring and early summer months, so delay your trip until August if you want to avoid the white stuff. Plan to spend about four or five hours on this loop hike.
Burroughs Mountain Trail – Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Washington, and a famous hiking route here is Burroughs Mountain. This trail is about 4.7 miles long, has 900 feet of elevation gain, and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. You can find the trailhead from the Sunrise parking area, pass by Shadow Lake, and climb to the White River and Emmons Glacier overlook. Sunrise Camp is about a mile from the parking area if you want to obtain a camping permit and stay overnight. This is one of the most accessible tundra regions of the Cascades with superb mountain views with every step you take.
Tolmie Peak Trail – Mount Rainier National Park
Another great Mount Rainier hike is Tolmie Peak, which travels to a lookout point and along Eunice Lake. One trail option travels about 7.5 miles long and reaches a high point of 5,900 feet. This is another hike that’s best pursued in August, September, or October. You’ll get awesome views of the mountains, lake, and trees for all your hard work getting up the mountain on this Washington hike. This is a family-friendly hike that you can bring the kids along for. You’ll need a national park pass or to pay the daily fee to enter the park, and plan to spend about three hours on this hike.
Snow Lake Trail - Snoqualmie National Forest
A wonderful moderate-difficulty hike in Washington is the popular Snow Lake Trail, which starts from the Alpental ski area and has lovely views and campsites along the way. The trail is about 6.5 miles long and takes approximately three to four hours to complete for most hikers. You may see wildflowers along the steep and rocky trekking route here, but save your adventure for summer or fall to avoid the potential of avalanches.
Monitor Ridge – Mount St. Helens, South Cascades
Mount St. Helens is a Southern Washington volcano that erupted in 1980 but has been deemed safe to hike again today. You’ll need to get a permit to hike to the summit of Mount St. Helens, which is about five miles each way, and be prepared to hike through some volcanic ash. The top of the mountain stands at 8,365 feet tall and offers amazing views of the South Cascade mountains. Monitor Ridge is a highly recommended hiking route here that is hard but doesn’t require any technical climbing skills. Permits are required year-around, and only a limited number of permits are given out per day between April and October. Gloves are recommended for the ash pumice areas that are harsh on skin, a jacket is also recommended because it is often quite windy on the peak, and trekking poles make this hike a bit easier on the knees.
Mount Ellinor Trail – Olympic National Park
Another unforgettable national park worth visiting in Washington is Olympic National Park, which is home to the strenuous Mount Ellinor hiking trail. Only attempt this trail if you’re an experience hiker because of the serious elevation gains involved. The hike lasts about three to four hours for most hikers and is about 5.5 miles long. Along the way, you’ll experience lush forests, snowy mountain peaks, and awesome views. This is a hike that is best done between the months of March and November.
Pacific Crest Trail – Near Snoqualmie Pass, Alpine Lakes Wilderness
The Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT, extends from Mexico to Canada, and some great portions of it extend through the state of Washington. In total, the PCT extends 2,650 miles long, but you don’t need to have that kind of endurance to experience this epic hiking route for yourself. One popular portion of the PCT that you can hike is from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. This is a 75-mile portion of the PCT that passes through some very scenic parts of the Cascades. If you have even more time and energy than this, you can hike a 147-mile portion of the PCT in Southern Washington from Bridge of the Gods on the border of Oregon and Washington to White Pass. Just be prepared for some serious elevation gains and lots of climbing and descending to go with your epic views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and the Columbia River.