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Hike Across Washington Through Motion Pictures

Washington's remote areas, diverse landscapes and iconic landmarks make it a great place for filming and telling any number of stories. With the large variety of different places in the state where motion pictures have been set and filmed, you could easily hike all across Washington just by visiting these spots.

Washington certainly draws in hikers, climbers, backpackers and all sorts of outdoorspeople, but it's also drawn in plenty of filmmakers through the years. Many famous movies and TV shows have either been set in, filmed in or both set and filmed in Washington.

And that's no surprise — Washington's remote areas, diverse landscapes and iconic landmarks make it a great place for filming and telling any number of stories.

With the large variety of different places in the state where motion pictures have been set and filmed, you could easily hike all across Washington just by visiting these spots.

Save these hikes connected to famous motion pictures in your My Backpack hikes list, and write up a trip report once you’ve checked them out.


Twin Peaks (1990-91, 2017)

Snoqualmie Falls

Location: Snoqualmie Region > North Bend Area
Length: 1.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 250 feet

Snoqualmie Falls, as seen from the Twin Peaks original run and on a hike. Photo by wjl8.
Snoqualmie Falls as seen next to the fictitious Great Northern Hotel in Twin Peaks, and next to the real Salish Lodge on a hike. Photo by wjl8.

This beloved cult-classic series takes place in the fictional curious and sleepy town of Twin Peaks, where the murder of a young woman and subsequent investigation result in strange happenings throughout town. Washingtonians as eagle-eyed as Agent Dale Cooper may notice that some scenes were filmed in North Bend and Snoqualmie, Washington.

The waterfall next to the Great Northern Hotel is actually Snoqualmie Falls (and the hotel exterior is the Salish Lodge). The view of the famous falls in the opening sequence of each episode and throughout the series can be seen from the upper observation deck, and hikers can see a different view of the falls from below at the lower observation deck, just a short but steep hike away.

> Plan your visit to Snoqualmie Falls using WTA's Hiking Guide


Captain Fantastic (2016)

Heybrook Ridge

Location: Central Cascades > Stevens Pass - West
Length: 3.3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 775 feet

A view of Mount Index in the background of Captain Fantastic and a view of Mount Index from the Heybrook Ridge trail. Photo by maryvr.
The family drives a bus across the 5th Street Bridge to Index with Mount Index in the background in Captain Fantastic, and a beautiful view of Mount Index on the Heybrook Ridge trail. Photo by maryvr.

A recently-widowed father of six, all of whom were raised in the remote wilderness of Washington, takes his family on a road trip to his late wife’s funeral, traveling through areas treasured by Washington’s hiking community.

As viewers follow Ben and his family, they’ll catch glimpses of Index and Gold Bar along Highway 2, including Mount Index peeking out from behind a bridge, a tall shot of Index Town Wall and a memorable scene in the Gold Bar Family Grocer. Catch your own views in person at Heybrook Ridge, a moderately-steep trail up to a ridgeline with expansive views of the surrounding area.

> Plan your hike to Heybrook Ridge using WTA's Hiking Guide


The Dark Divide (2020)

Dark Meadows

Location: South Cascades > Dark Divide
Length: 6.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet

Robert in The Dark Divide film hikes through the Dark Divide with Mount Adams in the background and a view of Mount Adams from the Dark Meadows trail. Photo by Susan Saul.
Expansive views of Mount Adams can be seen both in The Dark Divide film and on the Dark Meadows trail in the actual Dark Divide. Photo by Susan Saul.

Set in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (and primarily filmed where scenes were set), this movie was based on the memoir "Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide" and follows Robert on a month in the wilderness following the death of his wife. With diverse landscapes, sweeping vistas and shots of very little besides the scenery, this film is truly a love letter to Washington's remote areas.  

If watching the movie made you want to get outside, check out the film’s namesake, the Dark Divide, on your own. Among the many hikes in the area include Dark Meadows, a hike through the forest with views of Mount Adams and St. Helens that provides the option to extend your hike further into the Dark Divide.

> Plan your visit to Dark Meadows using WTA's Hiking Guide


The Ring (2002)

Cape disappointment state park - cape disappointment lighthouse

Location: Southwest Washington > Long Beach Area
Length: 0.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 150 feet

Spooky-looking lighthouses on the fictional Moesko Island and the real Cape Disappointment. Photo by T'sa Rosie.
Spooky-looking coastal lighthouses on the fictional Moesko Island in The Ring and the real Cape Disappointment. Photo by T'sa Rosie.

Fans of the horror genre may know that the American version of The Ring, in which a haunted videotape begins terrorizing a young Seattle family, takes place — and was mostly filmed — in Washington.

The movie starts in Seattle but eventually moves to remote Washington locations, one of which is the lighthouse on the fictitious Moesko Island off the Washington coast (actually filmed in Oregon). Visit Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, perched on a precarious-looking cliff, on a dark and stormy day for a short hike in Washington with that spine-tingling spooky factor.

> Plan your visit to Cape Disappointment State Park - Cape Disappointment Lighthouse using WTA's Hiking Guide


Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop

Location: Puget Sound and Islands > Seattle-Tacoma Area
Length: 6.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 439 feet

Views of houseboats on Lake Union in Sleepless in Seattle and from Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop trail. Photo by wafflesnfalafel.
Sam searching for his son around his houseboat on Lake Union in Sleepless in Seattle, and a view of more houseboats on Lake Union on the Cheshiahud Loop. Photo by wafflesnfalafel.

When thinking of movies set in Washington, it’s hard to forget the classic rom-com Sleepless in Seattle. Sam, half of the main romantic duo, lives in a now-famous Lake Union houseboat, where viewers can see him looking pensively out at the water, watching nearby fireworks on New Year’s and running around searching for his lost son.

You can’t hang out in the actual houseboat, but a hike, run or bike ride around the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop can provide a similar Seattle experience. The 6.5-mile paved loop goes all the way around Lake Union, allowing you to see the sights of the city from the lake without ever stepping off land.

> Plan your hike around Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop using WTA's Hiking Guide


Twilight (2008)

Hall of Mosses

Location: Olympic Peninsula > Pacific Coast
Length: 0.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Mossy greenery in the forest in both the Twilight film and the Hall of Mosses trail. Photo by vikr.
Bella and Edward wander through a mossy forest in Twilight, something you can do yourself through the Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rain Forest. Photo by vikr.

After Twilight’s wild popularity in print and on the big screen, Forks, Washington — on the Olympic Peninsula — became known to many previously unaware of its existence as the rainy town Bella and the vampiric Cullen family begin their long multi-part story.

Many scenes from the movie take place outside, featuring lush mossy forests, a signature of many quintessential Hoh Rain Forest hikes. Throw yourself into the movie on a magical verdant hike in the rain forest on the Hall of Mosses trail, a short loop with educational signage, great for hikers of all experience levels.

> Plan your visit to Hall of Mosses using WTA's Hiking Guide


Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop

Location: Southwest Washington > Columbia River Gorge - WA
Length: 7.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1200 feet

Waterfalls in Homeward Bound and on The Labyrinth Loop at Coyote Wall. Photo by Bob and Barb.
Waterfalls near the Columbia River Gorge in Homeward Bound and on The Labyrinth Loop at Coyote Wall. Photo by Bob and Barb.

It’s easy to get teary-eyed watching this beloved trio of pets travel through the Sierra Nevada, encountering wild animals and injuries to find the way back to their humans. Though set in California, the film was filmed in Oregon, as far north as the natural Washington-Oregon border: The Columbia River Gorge.

In one memorable scene, the three animals find Molly, a lost young girl, in front of a waterfall, namely Wahclella Falls on the Oregon side of the gorge. For your own nature adventure, consider doing the Labyrinth Loop at Coyote Wall, where you’ll not only see cascading falls, but beautiful views of the gorge as well. 

> Plan your visit to Coyote Wall - The Labyrinth Loop using WTA's Hiking Guide


Smoke Signals (1998)

Riverside State Park - Deep Creek Canyon

Location: Eastern Washington > Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
Length: 12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1258 feet

Spokane River under the Howard Street Middle Channel Bridge in Spokane near Spokane Falls over Spokane River, and a view of the Spokane River on the Deep Creek Canyon trail. Photo by PNW_Backpacker.
The Spokane River makes an appearance under the Howard Street Middle Channel Bridge in Smoke Signals, and would also make an appearance on a hike around Deep Creek Canyon. Photo by PNW_Backpacker.

Known for being the first feature film to be written, directed and produced by Native Americans, this award-winning film about a couple of teenagers on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation was primarily filmed in Idaho and Eastern Washington.

Viewers will see the blue Howard Street Middle Channel Bridge over Spokane Falls in Riverfront Park in Spokane, including in the last scene before the movie ends atop the nearby pedestrian bridge. Explore the Spokane area yourself at nearby Riverside State Park; the Deep Creek Canyon trail offers hikers a diverse nature experience through canyons, next to the Spokane River and up to overlooks of the nearby area.

> Plan your hike at Deep Creek Canyon by using WTA's Hiking Guide


Dante’s Peak (1997)

Eruption Trail

Location: Olympic Peninsula > Pacific Coast
Length: 0.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Mount St. Helens crater rim from Dante's Peak and a view of the crater from the Eruption Trail. Photo by raring2hike.
Two different views of the Mount St. Helens crater: Scientists at the crater rim in Dante's Peak (Mount Adams peeking out in the background), and a panoramic view of the crater from the Eruption Trail. Photo by raring2hike.

The eponymous town resides next to a volcano in this film, which erupts and wreaks havoc. The story was inspired by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, and old news footage of the St. Helens eruption can be seen in the film.

Though filmed in Idaho, the movie pays homage to St. Helens in a scene where two scientists examine the volcano crater with Mount Adams is in the background, the same view from the real St. Helens crater rim. The landscape around St. Helens changed a great deal post-eruption, and the Eruption Trail offers visitors expansive views of the crater and blast zone on a short paved hike, perfect for all hikers.

> Plan your hike on the Eruption Trail using WTA's Hiking Guide


Northern Exposure (1990-95)

Roslyn Urban Forest

Location: Snoqualmie Region > Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Length: 12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1258 feet

Mural on Roslyn Cafe (with an added apostrophe-s) in the opening credits of Northern Exposure, and a view from the 4th of July trail in Roslyn Urban Forest. Photo by ejain.
"Roslyn's Cafe" mural in Cicely from Northern Exposure (with the extra apostrophe-s added for the show), and a view from a hike in Roslyn Urban Forest. Photo by ejain.

Although this 90s series takes place in Alaska, the fictional tiny town of Cicely, where a young New Yorker is sent to honor the terms of a medical school scholarship, is the real-life Roslyn, Washington, on the eastern edge of the Cascades. Cicely was depicted as a remote town, and although Roslyn is actually just a short drive off I-90, there’s plenty of nature around to explore.

Roslyn Urban Forest lies within city limits and provides a large trail network for hikers, bikers and riders to explore. Pack a map and link together your own hike, then stop at the Roslyn Cafe (subtly altered to “Roslyn’s Cafe” in the series) for a post-hike treat. 

> Plan your visit to Roslyn Urban Forest using WTA's Hiking Guide


Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

Spencer Spit

Location: Puget Sound and Islands > San Juan Islands
Length: 2.0 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: 60 feet

Kids running on the sandy beach in Snow Falling on Cedars, and the sandy beach at Spencer Spit. Photo by dgran.
Kids run down a sandy beach in a flashback in Snow Falling on Cedars, and a very similar beach experience at Spencer Spit. Photo by dgran. 

Based on a novel with the same title, this legal story about a Japanese-American man falsely accused of the murder of a White fisherman is set in the 50s on the fictitious San Piedro Island in the real Puget Sound. Although much of the film takes place in a courtroom, the film does spend time outside; in one scene, a flashback shows the younger versions of two characters playing on a sandy beach on a gloomy day, with waves crashing onto shore.

For your own family-friendly beach trip, head to Spencer Spit on Lopez Island, which offers camping and a beautiful beach on the edge of the spit for a stroll.

> Plan your visit to Spencer Spit using WTA's Hiking Guide