Ten Hikes to Try Fourth of July Week
From family-friendly day hikes to something more substantial, we've compiled a list of ten hikes to try the first week of July.
Snoqualmie Pass/North Bend
Otter and Big Creek Falls - 10 miles, roundtrip
Waterfall enthusiasts should not miss Otter Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in the state. What's more, hikers get two waterfalls for their efforts on this hike. If only you didn't have to get there by driving the axel-shaking pot-holed Middle Fork Road (which King County may pave in the next year or two). But that just might keep the crowds down too. Go hike it»
Fourth of July Pass (last week’s Hike of the Week) - 11.2 miles, roundtrip
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include this patriotic pick. As a day hike or a backpack, Fourth of July Pass delivers as an early summer destination. From the approach along the tumbling waters of Thunder Creek to the viewpoints of snow-clad mountains along the way up the pass, it's a great way to explore North Cascades National Park. Go hike it»
Driveway Butte - 8.0 miles, roundtrip
Balsamroot abounds on this trail in the Methow. Go before it's gone! It's reported to be quite the show. Flowers aren't this trail's only charm: you can get a work-out here—more than 3,000 feet in four miles. You can get to 6,000 feet without snow. See how quickly plants regenerate in a burned forest, and absorb the broad views from Driveway Butte. Go hike it»
Rainbow Loop - 4.4 mile-loop
A Stehekin Valley classic with views of Lake Chelan, WTA’s executive director and trip reporter, Karen Daubert, recently hiked this loop and had this to say:
"This hike is a wonderful way to explore the Stehekin valley relatively close to the landing and the lodge. We rented bikes near the Lady of the Lake landing area and rode to the trailhead, parking our bikes just off the clearly marked trailhead. The loop heads up the valley through a recent burn to several viewspots, and then back down into the valley. Make sure to take water!
"We still had time so we then headed to the Rainbow Falls trail as well. That is a brand new trail (thank you North Cascades National Park) and is very short leading up to the spectacular falls. This is a must visit for anyone of any age visiting the valley."
Colchuck Lake - 8.4 miles, roundtrip
If you don't already have an Enchantments permit, you won't be able to camp here (though you'll want to). But you can still day hike. Colchuck Lake is one of the most sublime destinations in the entire state, and believe it or not, it is mostly snow-free. Get a work out on the ascent, and then bathe in the beauty. You'll want to come back again, permit in hand. Go hike it»
Hummocks Trail (Mt. St. Helens National Monument) - 2.3-mile loop
Away from the crowds around Johnston Ridge Observatory, the Hummocks Trail is one of those all-round trails that delights all members of the family. The loop winds gently up and down, through meadows, ponds and hummocks until it reaches the North Fork Toutle River (well below). Mount St. Helens is in sight much of the way, and the views are on par with those at Johnston Ridge. The foliage, the hummocks, the river and flowers make it look much more interesting that the barren blast zone does. The hummocks are fascinating as well—huge mounds of debris deposited by the 1980 blast. But what really captures childrens’ interest are the ponds, where evidence of beavers have left their mark and frogs, dragonflies, caterpillars and butterflies cavort during the summer. Go hike it»
Lyle Cherry Orchard - 5 miles, roundtrip
This sweet and little-known hike on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge may be a little past its prime in terms of wildflowers, but the spectacular views never fade. The preserve is owned by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge and tops out in an old cherry orchard with a few surviving trees. Start your hike at the unmarked trailhead just east of the tunnels near the town of Lyle. There's a parking area to the north. The first quarter mile of trail are quite steep, but within a half-mile the Columbia River reveals itself fully and stays with you as you climb through meadows to the old orchard, the perfect site for a picnic. Go hike it»
Mt. Rainier area
Little Ranger Peak - 6 miles, roundtrip
A straightforward, early-season summit that travels through old growth forest and, if the weather’s nice, has views along the way. Earlier this month, trip reporter explorer dogs said: "The trail is in great condition. No blow-downs, no mud, no water,no bugs, very few rocks or roots to trip over. Just an easy grade up, with some switch backs. A nice, uncomplicated walk in the woods with a view at the top." Go hike it»
Geyser Valley - 7.8 miles roundtrip
Explore this historic, beautiful stretch of the Elwah Valley not too far from Port Townsend. Meadows, old growth forest and all the perks of a dramatic river valley (including the impressive river feature at Goblin’s Gate) can make for a lovely hike without much elevation gain. Recent trip reporters have spotted deer and spruce grouse along the trail. Go hike it»
Eastern Washington - Spokane area
Liberty Lake Regional Park - 8-mile loop
A great day hike right on the state line between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. With temperatures likely to climb into the 80’s near Spokane over the next week, Liberty Lake makes for a substantial hike with plenty of shade. Take a clockwise approach, and you’ll see everything from a waterfall to one of the last stands of old growth cedar in Spokane County. (WTA has done major work along Liberty Lake loop, including a re-route necessitated by some industrious beavers). Go hike it»
Can’t get enough?
- Check out last year’s recommendations (but be sure to check the trail conditions before heading out).
- Make your hike a party. Join one of the work upcoming trail work parties.
- Trail closed? Not when you're helping to repair it. Join one of these Comet Falls work parties in Mount Rainier National Park.