9 Best Hikes in Washington for Any Skill Level

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A woman hiking through the forest in the spring while her partner uses binoculars to bird watch behind her.

Are you traveling through the beautiful state of Washington, exploring new areas of your home state, or just passing through? What better way to explore than by going on hikes in Washington? The Evergreen State is full of beautiful hikes all over.

Let’s take a look at all of the amazing hikes that can help you explore the beauty of Washington.

Where Can You Hike in Washington?

With the diverse ecosystems of Washington, you can take advantage of all the different scenery on your hikes, all in the same state! From north to south, east to west, Washington is home to beautiful hikes through forests, mountains, and even beaches. 

Hiking along a steep hill down to a lake at Tolquamie Peak in Washtington.

When’s the Best Time to Go Hiking in Washington?

Spring and summer are generally the best times to hike in Washington. Spring can be an amazing time to hike because of the blooming flowers and running waterfalls. Summer provides warmer weather and allows you to hike without being hindered by snow. 

While spring and summer may be the most popular among the masses, fall has some of the most gorgeous colors. As the terrain prepares for winter, the leaves change colors and fall, which is a different kind of beauty.

If you’re up for a true adventure, hiking in winter and exploring trails in the snow by snowshoeing can add a challenge. Certain trails are closed during certain times of year to protect wildlife and humans.

A brown tree with yellow leaves starting to bud in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.

The best time of day to hike in Washington is usually in the morning due to a decreased chance of rain and warmer daytime temperatures. Wildlife is most active at dusk, dawn, and night. By hiking in the morning, you may increase your likelihood of seeing wild animals. Certain animals like snakes and mountain lions are most active at dawn, so it’s essential to be especially vigilant when hiking around these times. 

Hiking in the afternoon can be advantageous if you’re looking to swim in a lake, river, or waterfall, as the temperature warms up during this time of day. Weather can be dangerous in the afternoon, however. Evening hikes are perfect for short hikes when the weather is still nice as the sun goes down. Wildlife is very active at this time, and you can even watch the sunset.

How to Prepare for Your Washington Hike

There are a few things you can do to prepare for your hike in Washington. Make sure to check the weather and plan your trip accordingly. Washington weather can change quite suddenly, and it’s important to have the right gear with you, so you have a good time and stay safe. Hiking without proper rain gear can be quite a hassle. 

It’s also beneficial to check trail conditions. Some trails will be inaccessible due to trail closure or road blockages during certain times of the year.

As a safety precaution, it’s always good to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, too.   

9 Best Hikes in Washington for Any Skill Level

Now that you’re ready to go let’s look at nine of the best hikes in Washington. Let’s get started.

1. Barclay Lake

Barclay Lake Trail is a 4.3-mile round trip hike with a 387 ft elevation gain near Baring, Wash. Just over an hour outside of Seattle, this hike is very popular. A majority of the trail is next to Barclay Creek, so you’ll get to walk near the water most of the trip.

This hike is popular for camping, fishing, and birding. Your final destination, Barclay Lake, includes a beautiful view of the lake surrounded by trees.

Dogs are allowed, but they must be on a leash. The Northwest Forest Pass will get you into Barclay Lake.  

A red-winged blackbird perches on a cattail near water.
Barclay Lake Trail is popular for birding.

2. Second Beach Trail

If you want to experience forest scenery combined with a beautiful ocean destination during your hike in Washington, Second Beach Trail is a great hike for you.

Located in Olympic National Park, this 2.1-mile, 278 ft elevation gain hike is popular for backpacking, camping, and hiking. You’ll need to pay the entrance fee to get into Olympic National Park to hike here.

This hike is relatively flat and leads to a lovely ocean view with sea stacks rising out of the water. Bald eagles, seals, and whales all may be seen during certain times of the year. 

3. Trail of the Cedars

The Trail of the Cedars is a slightly less known, more secluded hike. Trail of the Cedars is a 1.7-mile, 72 ft elevation gain hike. Located in North Cascades National Park, this Washington hike takes about 38 minutes to complete.

You’re less likely to run into people here, and walking, hiking, and trail running are all common on this trail. You’ll encounter a wide variety of trees, such as giant red cedars, paper birch, Douglas Fir, maples, and Pacific Yew. This hike is more of a nature walk than an intense, strenuous hike and it’s great for kids.

Looking straight up the tree trunk of a giant red cedar tree.
Trail of the Cedars is beautiful walk amongst the trees.

4. Palouse Falls Trail

The Palouse Falls Trail is a scenic hike that leads you to Palouse Falls. This 0.7-mile hike only takes about 20 minutes to complete but is considered a more challenging hike because of the 65 ft elevation gain through the rocky, steep terrain.

In order to access the falls, you need to purchase a Discover Pass. Camping is available near the park. 

5. Bagley Lakes Trail

East of Bellingham, the Bagley Lakes Trail is a great hike in Washington for the family. This 2.2-mile hike takes you on a scenic trip around Bagley Lake. The elevation gain is 259 ft and it takes about 55 minutes to complete.

On this hike, you’ll encounter two incredible alpine lakes, wildflowers in the brush, and mountains in the background. This hike also has a snowfield at the upper part of the lake that’s present all year long.    

A glass lake dwarfed by a mountain peak.
Bagley Lake is an hour long hike great for families.

6. Twin Sisters Rock

Twin Sisters Rock is a great hike for birdwatchers, hikers, and walkers. Just over half a mile to your destination, this short hike near the Tri-Cities leads you to a view of the Columbia River between two rocks jutting out next to each other, the Twin Sisters Rock, where the Missoula floods once eroded a gap in the rocks.

The scenery to Twin Sisters Rock has red rocks and a desert-like landscape. The elevation gain is only 104 ft. 

7. Twin Falls Trailhead

There are a few different ways you can access Twin Falls Trailhead. The shorter of the two, Twin Falls Trail, takes about an hour and 15 minutes to do. It’s 2.5 miles and gains 636 ft in elevation. The hike will lead you to two beautiful waterfalls right next to each other.

Twin Falls via the Homestead Valley Trailhead is one of the longer hikes we’ve included on this list at 3.7 miles. The elevation gain is 1,003 ft. You need a Discover Pass for both of these hikes.

Water rushes over moss-covered rocks at the lower of Twin Falls in Washington.
There are different options for hiking around Twin Falls varying in length and intensity.

8. Comet Falls Trail

Comet Falls is a stunning 3.2-mile hike surrounded by trees that leads you to a 380 ft waterfall. This hike is moderately challenging but doable for most ages and abilities.

Elevation gain is 1,279 ft. For access to Comet Falls, you need a National Park Pass.

9. Gold Creek Pond

Gold Creek Pond will take you around Gold Creek near Snoqualmie Pass. This beautiful Washington hike only takes about 30 minutes to get around the entire pond.

This trail is wheelchair- and kid-friendly and goes 1.2 miles. This loop is relatively flat, with a small elevation gain of only 45 ft. Birding is popular here, but if you like to cross-country ski or snowshoe, this might be the hike for you, too!

Fall colors starting to turn the foliage around the evergreens surrounding Gold Creek Pond in Washington.
Hike around the beautiful Gold Creek Pond for a flat, family- and wheelchair-friendly trail.

Traveler’s Tip: While in Snoqualmie Pass, check out this spooky two-mile long tunnel — without any light!

Choose One of These Easy Hikes for Your Next Outing

There are so many beautiful hikes in Washington. Something that makes Washington hikes unique is the vast array of different climates and terrains throughout the state. From looming trees to meadows with wildflowers to crashing waterfalls and even rocky and barren spaces, Washington offers hikes for everyone.

Which hikes will you add to your list?

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