Know your berry bush
Huckleberries can range in color from blue to black, and there's even a red huckleberry. When they get plenty of sun and water, huckleberry bushes can grow to six or seven feet tall.
Blueberries, as their name implies, tend to be reliably blue, though sometimes they'll show some purplish hues.
Both huckleberries and blueberries can grow in either shade or sun, but for prime picking, stick to the meadows or lake shores that get a lot of sun. Sunny slopes with southern exposures are particularly good spots.
Afraid you might not get the right berry? Bring along a reference guide or invite an experienced berry-hunter to tag along.
Find a trail that takes you above 2,000 feet, though the sweet spot is really a little higher. Begin looking for berries at lower elevations in mid-August. As the season progresses through the end of September, you'll have to climb higher to find ripe berries.
> Hikers Report Huckleberries:
Lodge Lake (Aug. 19)
Dock Butte (Aug. 18)
Old Sauk River Trail (Aug. 16)
Wallace Lake - Greg Ball Trail (Aug. 12)
Northern Loop Natural Bridge (Aug. 11)
Lower Big Quilcene River (Aug. 11)
Salmo Basin Loop (Aug. 11)
Wallace Falls (Aug. 10)
Besides the hike suggestions below, use the community intelligence of Trip Reports to find your next berry hike. Run an advanced search with the 'Ripe berries' box selected, and scour the reports for specifics.
Friends in the field
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Berry fields are a great place to watch birds, who eat the berries and then spread the seeds far and wide. A note of caution: one of your best chances of encountering a black bear in the Cascades is probably in a high field of berries.
Keep them safe
A Ziploc bag makes a fine berry container if all you want is the juicy flavor (for smoothies, sauces or as as a drizzled ice cream topper). If you want to come home with intact berries for muffins or pancakes, then come prepared with a hard sided container.
Park Butte / Schriebers Meadow
There are so many reasons to hike this trail in late summer, and berries are one of them. This very popular trail on the southwest flank of Mount Baker leads to alpine meadows and a glorious view of the mountain. Early on, the trail enters Schriebers Meadow, a prime spot for berries. Check the Trip Reports before you go, to make sure the berry bushes (and trail) aren't still under snow.
Mountain Loop Highway
This is a challenging route to huckleberry heaven. Reaching the summit means 8.5 miles round trip and 3900 feet of elevation gain, but your reward will be ample. The views from up top are incredible - and the berries aren't bad either. According to the old Spring/Manning 100 Hikes guidebooks, Mount Dickerman's berries are "among the most famous blueberry patches in the Cascades." The berry patches begin about two miles into the hike.
Walt Bailey Trail
Mountain Loop Highway
Haven't heard of this trail? That's not a surprise. It lies on DNR land, was built in the 1990s, and didn't make it on to many maps until a few years ago. So it's a bit of a special secret among anglers and berry-pickers. And now you know too. The berries are bountiful near Cutthroat Lakes and on the flank of Bald Mountain. Bring a bucket with a lid for your harvest!
If you like easy ridge walks and don't mind sharing your huckleberry fields with lots of other hikers, head to the Tonga Ridge trail off Hwy 2 just past Skykomish. The views are nice and the meadows are beautiful. After a mile or so of hiking start looking down in the bushes for the fat, juicy berries. Feast here, or keep hiking another two miles to the meadow for the plumpest, juiciest ones. Or better yet, forage in the fields on the climbers' path up to Mt. Sawyer.
>>Learn more about Tonga Ridge.
Pacific Crest Trail - north of Snoqualmie Pass
It's a 5-mile haul to the famed Katwalk, a section of trail blasted from a precipitous rock face, but you will encounter huckleberry meadows much sooner than that. The views from this trail are splendid, too, and you won't soon forget walking the sliver of rock trail that give this hike its name.
In summer, few hikers wander the trails to the south of Snoqualmie Pass. That's too bad, because of few of the hikes are pretty great. Mount Catherine is one of them. Once you find the trailhead (it's tricky, so read the directions and Trip Reports carefully), it's a remarkably short and easy hike to the summit - which sports amazing views. Along the way, feast on fields of berries that you may not have to share with a single other soul.
Naches Peak Loop
Experience divine hiking all the way into October on the Naches Peak Loop trail. It boasts some of the best views from any trail of Mount Rainier, late-blooming wildflowers and technicolor fall foliage. But you'll have to come in September to find the huckleberries. Be prepared for company, however. Every year we get Trip Reports about black bears cruisin' for huckleberries too!
Little Huckleberry Mountain
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Hey you Portlanders and Vancouverites! Check out this little trail. From bottom to top, this hike surely lives up to its name. It's a little dusty, but the juicy berries will keep you hydrated on a hot, late summer day. We hear the berries are best up on top, and you'd want to hike up here to check out the views and the intriguing scar from the Big Lava Bed. If you go, come back after your hike and write a Trip Report - we need them for this trail.
Bird Mountain Loop
Indian Heaven Wilderness
A ten-mile loop in here makes an excellent overnight trip, with ample side trip options to various lakes and meadows. Bring the pancake batter for huckleberry flapjacks! Huckleberries from these meadows are described as some of the best, juiciest, most fantastic fruits in the state! And if ten miles seems too long, there are shorter options as well.
Salmo-Priest LoopColville National Forest
Huckleberries are abundant on the high ridges and in the meadows along the Shedroof Divide on this remote backpacking loop in the northeastern-most corner of the state. If you like to feast on your huckleberries in solitude, this is the place for you. Do the whole loop in two or three days, or sprint up to the ridge for a great overnight trip with time to spare for your foraging delight.