Eight Easy Spring Hikes
The days are longer, warmer and at times sunnier than they have been in months. It's time to go hiking! But where? Mountain favorites are still buried deep in the snow, and many of us are not in peak conditioning after the long winter.
WTA has come up with eight great easy hikes to try this spring. All snow-free, family-friendly and guaranteed to give you a dose of the medicine you need most: the scent of the earth warming, mixed with buds and flowers, plus cool and fresh air.
So make a plan! Grab the kids, the dog, your binoculars -- or all three -- and get outside this spring.
Deception Pass Headlands
Location: Near Anacortes
Round Trip: up to 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 350 ft
Kid Guide: Good for toddlers on up
With over 4,000 acres including saltwater shoreline, old growth forest, and freshwater lakes, Deception Pass State Park is a recreationist's treasure-trove. Sample tide pools, windswept grassy bluffs, lofty firs, and fantastic views of Deception Pass and the San Juan Islands on this fabulously diverse hike.
Boulder River WaterfallLocation: near Darrington
Round Trip: 2.5 to 8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 750 feet
Kid Guide: Good for 3 and up
Who can resist a waterfall? Boulder River is one of the gems - easy to get to, gorgeous to view, with an excellent opportunity to enjoy an old growth walk. A 2.5 mile round-trip will take you to and from the cascades, but those who want a longer hike can press on to the end of the trail at 4 miles. This is also makes a good early season overnight backpack.
Lime KilnLocation: Mountain Loop Highway
Round Trip: 5 miles to relics
Elevation Gain: 625 feet
Kid Guide: Good for 5 and up
This trail used to be part of the historic Monte Cristo Railroad, carrying silver and processed lime out to Everett to be sold. The stone limekiln can still be seen at 2.5 miles, along with other mining relics. The old railroad grade makes a beautiful trail above and alongside the turbulent South Fork of the Stillaguamish River - and a good spring option.
Paradise ValleyLocation: near Woodinville
Round Trip: 1 to 5 miles
Elevation Gain: negligible
Kid Guide: Good for 2 and up
A relatively new Snohomish County park near Woodinville offers excellent hiking for folks seeking an outdoor escape. Mostly level trails loop through and around the wetlands and the headwaters of Bear Creek. The shortest is the Cascara Trail, but longer loops off the Mainline Trail will take you through the Wetland Plateau, over the Southern Traverse, with opportunities for nice views of the Cascades on a clear day.
Fort Worden State Park - Point WilsonLocation: Near Port Townsend, Olympics
Round Trip: 2.5 miles one way
Elevation Gain: none
Kid Guide: All ages
On the shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, you can walk a fine sandy beach between high bluffs and two access points to reach the Point Wilson Lighthouse. On a clear day, there are excellent of Mount Baker, Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands, and the Cascades behind them. Follow the beach to the red-roofed Coast Guard lighthouse at Point Wilson. It is not open for visitors, but there are picnic tables available for a lunch stop out of the wind.
Ancient LakesLocation: Central Washington near Quincy
Round Trip: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 10 feet
Kid Guide: Ages 5 and up
Waterfalls in the desert. Deep coulees. Small lakes and large lakes. Sagebrush. Wildflowers. A cacophony of bird songs. There are many reasons to visit Ancient Lakes in the Quincy Wildlife Recreation Area. Spring is really the best time - sunny and warm weather and an opportunity to pitch your tent by a lake are a few more. If you can, explore the entire lake basin. This wetland area provides habitat for many species of birds and mammals.
Riverside State ParkLocation: Near Spokane
Round Trip: varies
Elevation Gain: none
Kid Guide: Ages 4 and up
Start your hike by crossing the swinging bridge at Bowl & Pitcher. Choose an upstream or downstream destination. Downstream will take hikers past rapids on the Spokane River, a CCC camp and a basalt bench with views. Upstream offers an intriguing peak at basalt formations. Both upstream and downstream routes offer the option to cross the river and create a loop trip.
Catherine CreekLocation: Columbia River Gorge
Round Trip: up to 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: up to 250 feet
Kid Guide: Ages 3 and up
Early-blooming and abundant wildflowers, interesting basalt formations, impressive views of the Columbia River and many options make this an excellent spring hiking destination. Choose between a one-mile ADA-accessible trail, a loop around a natural arch or wander about on one of the other many trails in the area. Two warnings: poison oak is thick in the underbrush, so stay on the trail, and check at the end of the hike for ticks.