Hikes of the Week
Explore seasonal hikes featured on the WTA website in 2013. 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 and 2012.
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.
Stunning views of the North Cascades peek out between firs and cedar remains on this relatively flat trail hugging the eastern shore of Baker Lake. A choose-your-own-adventure trail that a range of hikers will enjoy, hike it from the north or the south, for 1 or 14 miles, or overnight in one of the campgrounds.
Few hikes so near Seattle pack the punch of Rattlesnake Ledge: the hike is short, providing a good work-out and stellar views on a clear day. Pack water, lunch and a rain jacket, then join the masses on the climb to this fine promontory.
With a seasonal waterfall and the first yellow bells blooming, this easy 4-mile hike only a few miles off of I-90 between Ellensburg and Moses Lake makes for a great spring warm-up in the desert. Pack a picnic and your binoculars to watch rock climbers scale the stunning basalt columns.
Spend spring break on six miles of shoreline and Scotland-like bluffs. On the southern end of San Juan Island, Mount Finlayson provides an excellent vantage point to view the annual grey whale migration (look for the water spouts).
Wild and mercurial, the Olympic Coast has a special appeal this time of year. Grassy bluffs, cliffside caves and tidal pools are all to be found along this four-mile beach hike near the Kalaloch Campground. So shrug on your rain gear and enjoy the bird watching, sense of solitude and stunning seascapes.
The short, steep hike to the lookout sports vibrant spring mosses (and some mud) at the bottom and stunning views of snow-covered Mount Index at the top. It's a good option for an early season ramble, training hike or photographer's study in the Stevens Pass corridor.
Your challenge on this nine-mile loop: identify the first of more than 800 species of wildflowers that bloom in the Columbia River Gorge. The Hardy and Rodney Falls trail, also in Beacon Rock State Park, makes a shorter, fun alternative for families.
Start off heading downhill on this gentle winter hike outside Sequim. You'll roll up and down through lush forest and along the river bottom where the Gray Wolf crashes and bubbles next to the trail. You'll spot birds, fungi, mosses and even a few forest views.
In Seattle's backyard, the short loop east of Lake Sammamish wanders through wetlands, meadows and forests. Great for beginning hikers, families and dogs on leash, these trails are great for a quick winter outing or an early morning on trail before work.
Take advantage of the long weekend and trek out to Palouse Falls. With stunning falls, the big sky of the scablands and the antics of resident marmots, this relatively short hike is photographer's dream. If you're lucky, you might even snag one of the park's ten tent sites.
The road to the summit of Mount Walker is gated in winter, leaving hikers to travel a peaceful and meticulously maintained trail to the top of the Olympics most eastern peak. Atop, bask in views of Hood Canal, Seattle and even the Cascades on clear days.
Big Four is an excellent beginner snowshoe, with a flat walk along an unplowed road and a picturesque ramble along a creek. Listen and watch huge avalanches crash down the vertical face of Big Four Mountain. Just don't venture close!
Ebey's Landing on Whidbey Island is a natural and historic treasure. Bluffs, beach and a saltwater lagoon. Eagles, shorebirds and ships passing through the Strait. And an old prairie homestead that speaks to the history of Whidbey Island.
Enjoy the long weekend (and a base of 6-8 feet of snow) with a lovely snowshoe route in view of Mount St. Helens.Try the gentle climb through snowy forest to half-frozen June Lake and its waterfall, or explore one of the many other trail options out of Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
Take advantage of a streak of sunshine forecast near Yakima by hiking this gentle six-mile trail that used to be an old railroad. Enjoy the crystal clear views, craggy rock formations and winter wildlife that make hiking Washington's deserts so rewarding. Go prepared for at least a few inches of snow on trail.
On this stretch of the Washington coastline only an hour and a half from Olympia, the dunes and beach are equal attractions. Bundle up, pack a picnic, look for bald eagles or other shorebirds, and take in the wonder of Pacific waves in winter.