Hikes of the Week
Explore seasonal hikes featured on the WTA website in 2014. Be sure to follow the links to see full hike descriptions, driving directions and Trip Reports in our Hiking Guide. You can also access our Hike of the Week archives for 2008, 2009, 2010 , 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Follow the Diablo Lake Trail up and across talus slopes on the flanks of Sourdough Mountain to impressive cascading waterfalls and stunning views. This hike in the North Cascades Institute's backyard makes a great option for an early season hike in stunning North Cascades National Park, much of which is inaccessible during the winter and spring.
We're at the cusp of waterfall season! With five waterfalls in a 7-mile roundtrip, this Lewis River hike is one to keep on your April-June to-do list. If you're hiking with creaky knees or kiddos, take in the magnificent, close-in Lower Lewis River Falls. If you want a longer hike with some ups and downs, venture all the way to Taidnapum Falls, 3.5 miles in.
Stretch your legs on this short hike through railroad history down lovely Tumwater Canyon just outside of Leavenworth. Keep your eyes peeled for kayakers taking on the spring melt and climbers at Castle Rock near the end of the trail. Watch your step on the sometimes-slippery bridge that starts off your hike.
Seek out sunshine, moody spring clouds and history just outside Yakima on any number of easy-going loops on this former cattle-ranch.The big wildflower show won't be at its peak for another month, but you'll spot buttercups, grass widows, and violets right now. It's a perfect spot to watch the sunrise with a thermos of coffee or take your family for a picnic lunch.
Seek out the first signs of spring at Mount Rainier on the closed Carbon River Road, one of the prettiest road walks in all of Washington. Take the side trail to Green Lake and see the spring surge of melt-off over Ranger Falls. Turn around there, or explore just a little farther to picturesque Green Lake. Overnighting? Explore up to Ipsut Falls, too.
There's nothing quite like spring hiking on the many trail options along the Columbia River Gorge. Your challenge on this nine-mile loop: identify the first of more than 800 species of wildflowers that bloom in the area. The nearby Hardy and Rodney Falls trail makes a fun, shorter alternative for families.
More than 8 miles of hiking trails wind around Millersylvania State Park, a quiet escape just south of Olympia. Make your own loop through the peaceful forest, across wetlands and beside Deep Lake. Tuck in here for a weekend of early-season camping or break up the drive between Portland and Seattle with a stroll or trail run.
Lime Kiln State Park, best known as a whale watching destination, makes a great island getaway year round. Hike along the rocky beach to the lighthouse and have a picnic lunch before turning inland to stroll the more wooded park trails. If you're after more hiking miles, add a visit to Mount Finlayson. Make a weekend of it by trying for one of 20 spots at the nearby campground operated by San Juan County Parks.
Get out and stretch your legs along this gentle, scenic section of the Klickitat Trail, a 31-mile rail-turned-trail in southern Washington. Admire the Ponderosa pines in the Swale Canyon section, and in a week or two, keep your eyes peeled for first wildflowers of the season.
Shake the February doldrums and stretch your arms to the expansive skies of the White Bluffs south slope. The area offers a breathtaking desert landscape awaiting your discovery. Particularly fascinating are the bluffs themselves, which boast intricate patterns created by sand and clay layers, as well as the mighty Columbia River and the enormous Great Valley.
Shuck off the week's stresses in the short, scenic climb up to Big Rock. Winter transforms the wide views south over the Palouse to Steptoe Butte and north over the Spokane Valley and Mount Spokane. If you want to turn this 2.5-mile hike into a longer stroll or a training hike, extend it on the Iller Creek Trail.
This 5-mile low-elevation river hike brings new wonders with every season. Hike through old growth forest and past beaver ponds until the trail opens up into big river valley views of soaring snow-capped peaks. Go prepared for some snow and slush, and if you're hiking with a leashed dog, you'll need to turn around at the National Park boundary.
Head over the river and through the woods to an incredible view from Big Hump on this classic Olympic adventure. If you haven't visited the Duckabush since before the burn there (and WTA's multi-year efforts to help repair the trails there), the process of a forest in recovery makes for a fascinating, frosty hike.
Reports of trumpeter swans and eagles mean it's time for a Skagit Valley visit. At Padilla Bay, you'll be treated to flocks of frolicking shore birds and views of the islands and Mount Baker. If you have kiddos in tow, try to work in a stop at nearby Breazelale Interpretive Center
A gorgeous winter destination, Northrup Canyon's tall sagebrush retains a silvery-green hue and the grasses are golden. Winter is also eagle-watching season in the Grand Coulee, so take binoculars and keep your eyes peeled for the bald eagles who winter here. Want more? Camp at Steamboat Rock State Park and hike up Steamboat Rock butte for an incredible sunrise picnic.
In winter, a brisk walk along a lush riverbank accompanied with the sound of rushing water can be the perfect pick-me-up. Get your nature fix this week at Moulton Falls, a picturesque hike along the Lewis River. On your way, enjoy a wide variety of northwest greenery, peek-a-boo views of the creek, even some historic relics.
When it comes to the endless miles of connecting trails in the Issaquah Alps, it can be hard to know where to start. Tiger Mountain regulars may have their own favorites, but we recommend this classic Tiger trail to begin unlocking a year-round oasis of backyard lowland hiking trails you can enjoy on a crisp, clear day or in a light snowfall.
Snowshoe (with kids and leashed pups) though a winter wonderland on one of six official trails ranging from easy to challenging. The trails are northeast of the Nordic area, and two of the best climb to a CCC Cabin (4 miles roundtrip) where you can warm up inside, and to the top of Mt. Spokane (3 1/4 miles roundtrip).
You get a lot of bang for your buck with a visit to this gem of a coastal park featuring rocky bluffs, madrona groves, freshwater ponds, incredible views, and a trail WTA has worked on improving this year. On a blustery day, stormwatch from Sares Head bluff. On a fine day, take in stunning views of the San Juans. Not ready to head for home? Drop by Deception Pass State Park, only 2 miles away.
Visit the towering trees, monster ferns and gurgling cascades of the Quinault rainforest. Explore up to 10 miles of family- and dog-friendly (on leash) trails in this area of Olympic National Forest. Make a weekend exploration, crashing at the nearby Quinault Lodge, or take a day hike to visit the amazing trees along the 4-mile Forest Loop.
Meander along the Old Sauk River near Darrington, and you'll be embraced by the old growth forest and everything that comes with it -- moss carpeting, intriguing fungi, the sound of the river and much more. This four-season trail is a great way for the whole family to walk off your Thanksgiving feast.
Take a 1- or 4-mile stroll through wetlands, ponderosa pine, shrub steppe and grasslands. A year-round wildlife watching mecca near Cheney -- the 18,217-acre refuge is habitat for geese, trumpeter swans, elk, deer, moose and coyote. Hide in one of the blinds for a better bird view, hike through geologic history. Dogs are allowed on leashes, and no fee is required in winter.
Step out your front door and onto 12 miles of interconnected trails in forest and wetlands on the western side of the Snoqulamie River Valley. Many of WTA's volunteers have put their back into the trails at Soaring Eagle, where everyone from families out for a stroll to trail runners in training can create their own outdoor adventure.
This easy-going South Cascades trail takes you through mossy forests with dappled sunlight and past little tumbling cascades. Hike it, run it, or sneak in a last minute backpacking trip; this trail is a great fall hike for beginner and expert hikers alike. One tip: the road to it isn't in great shape, so take it slow.
Following the iconic Elwha River into wild Olympic National Park, this 9.6-mile hike shows off the spirit of the rainforest -- especially when it's raining. With loads of history, camps for backpackers, and a loop option along the opposite's bank's Long Ridge trail, this is a trail with something for everyone.
It won't be long before snows close the road accessing this classic volcano view of Mount St. Helens, so go now, while this 4.5-mile hike is still showing off fall colors. Don't forget your water and sunscreen, and if you want some spectacular sunrise photos, start early or plan an overnight.
While you'll need to step carefully on some snow and ice covering the trail, this 5-mile hike is still a grand way to get a look at golden alpine larches lighting the North Cascades. There have been lots of visitors here on their larch marches, so check out recent trip reports before you head out.
A tough climb to a beloved Washington lookout, the trail to Mount Pilchuck is showing off some fall colors. Go now, before snow and ice begin to blanket the trail. A clear day means spectacular views from the lookout, but trip reporter Surviving Urban's rainy day summit shows that this State Park hike is worth a climb into the clouds, too.
In lieu of high-country larches, look for golden aspens and colorful cottonwoods in the water-fed creases of the canyon country around Yakima. Early October is usually peak color season here. It's also hunting season, so when you go, dress in orange or other bright colors as a precaution.
No amount of drizzle can spoil an autumn stroll along this bus-accessible trail, which has multiple access points from Lake Washington to Maple Valley. This former railroad is great for kids, dogs, or for a long run. The start of the salmon run makes it extra special this time of year, and on weekends in October, educational programs will be held along the trail.
Not ready to let summer sunshine and post-hike swimming go just yet? Dodge a chance of rain and sleep under the harvest moon with a camping weekend at Steamboat Rock State Park. First climb the butte and then ramble among blooming sagebrush while you take in dramatic, sweeping views of Washington's desert country.
Looking for solitude or a September backpacking trip? Take it easy on the first few miles of this trail before climbing up out of forest to the stunning views. A gorgeous glacial basin with peaks going on for days are the true reward of Copper Pass. The trail can be a little brushy, but trip reporters say it's in good shape and easy to follow.
Last year, the trail to Comet Falls washed out. Thanks to the many WTA volunteers who built brand new steps up and around the washout, you can now reach one of Mount Rainier's most beautiful and beloved waterfalls. Still feeling spry? Continue up switchbacks to the grand views and meadows of Van Trump Park.
Sagebrush and solitude make this 5-mile trail in the Kettle Range special. Enjoy spectacular rolling hills, far-off views and keep your eyes peeled for grouse and songbirds. Looking for a last-minute Labor Day overnight idea? Extend your trip one, two or three nights on the Kettle Crest.
Save your picnic for the view of this idyllic getaway, where rock walls encircle an emerald lake, complete with tiny island. It's a steady climb up to the glacier-sculpted basin, but it's worth it for a look at one of the largest alpine lakes in the Olympics. More experienced hikers can extend their hikes to Klahhane Ridge and Heather Park.
For stunning, height-of-summer alpine views with wildflowers along the way, the Mount Dickerman trail is well worth a visit for well-conditioned hikers. One safety note: keep dogs and kids close at the summit, since there are steep cliffs on the north side. For smaller kiddos, try nearby Perry Creek trail to the waterfall instead.
Ready to stretch your legs on a long, high-country ramble? Head to the Goat Rocks for stunning views and meadows thick with wildflowers. Go prepared with extra water and bug repellant. Backcountry camping isn't allowed in the basin, so if you're looking to overnight, try the nearby PCT at White Pass instead.
Deception Pass is home to 40 miles of trails, and if you visit this weekend, you'll experience the music, games and family-friendly fun of the State Parks Centennial Celebration in addition to miles of beaches, coastal views and tidepools. Pack a picnic and head to the beach!
Atop Observation Peak on a clear day you can see from Mount Rainier all the way to Mount Jefferson, and you don't even have to work very hard to get there! The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is full of easy hikes with incredible views. Go there!
Lupine and paintbrush are blooming on Tiffany Mountain, but they aren't the only allure of this Okanogan treasure. Trip Reporters recently spotted porcupine, moose and grouse on their hikes to this open, rocky summit. Camp in nearby Pearrygin Lake State Park to make a weekend of it.
Climb a trail to panoramic Cascade views from the summit of this overlooked trail near Skykomish off Hwy 2. Plan it for a clear day, carry extra water, and enjoy vistas of the Wild Sky Wilderness and more on this 7.4 mile hike. Be careful on a bit of lingering snow.
Expansive views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams reward hikers who climb to the ridge on this rarely-crowded trail just east of Chinook Pass. On hot days, you'll want to bring extra water on your way to this former fire lookout. Options for hikers (with a good map) who want to extend or turn their hike into a loop.
Grab your friends and family for a riverside stroll under a magnificent forest canopy. You might spot rhododendrons, and the views at Camp Handy make for a good picnic lunch destination. For backpackers who want a longer hike, there are options to extend your hike into the Olympic National Park (with permits).
Walk a ridge high above the aquamarine shores of Coldwater Lake and take in the full Mount St. Helens experience -- roaming herds of elk, treeless meadows of wildflowers, rusting machinery left from the eruption and views of the mountain itself.
Whether you're camping near Cle Elum or just want a prime picnic location for a short Saturday hike, you'll only have to climb a mile on this steep, easy-to-follow trail to get stunning views from a fire lookout (and cool alpine outhouse). It can be great for kids, but keep them close on the exposed summit.
Take a hike through history to an old lime kiln on the banks of the South Fork Stillaguamish River. This once bustling mining and logging area is now a peaceful forest that features lush plant life, a trickling river soundtrack and historic relics.
A snow-free valley hike with spring wildflowers, roaring water, croaking frogs, views and several stream crossings. The five-mile mark (or earlier) makes for a good day hike now. Return later in the year to tackle the challenging next four miles to ascend into the gorgeous Necklace Valley.
Head to Dog Mountain for Columbia River Gorge views and an explosion of wildflowers. Eager to get in shape for summer? Head straight up the mountain on the northern side. Take the slow and steady eastern flank trail to stop and smell the flowers. (See if you can spot recent work by WTA trail crews.)
Looking for warm, dry hiking with stunning views and a post-hike swim? Climb to the top of Steamboat Rock and ramble the butte top for dramatic views of Banks Lake and coulee country. Desert wildflowers and camping options sweeten the deal.
The 2.5-mile hike to scenic Lena Lake is a summer favorite, but the trail is clear and snow-free now. Pack a picnic lunch or try a first-time backpack and practice your Leave No Trace skills. And, after WTA volunteers help clear the Upper Lena trail in June, you can return for a longer hike.
Climb gentle hills exploding with lupine, paintbrush, balsamroot and other wildflowers. Make it multi-day adventure by camping in Columbia Hills State Park and hiking Horsethief Butte, The Dalles Mountain or Beacon Rock. Go prepared for ticks.
Craving mountain views and the first wildflowers of spring? On this two-mile climb to the saddle overlooking Leavenworth, you'll get both, along with a taste of the hiking season ahead. Do it early for a spectacular sunrise or pack a picnic lunch.