Welcome to Hike the State! Get excited for summer with new-to-you hikes to discover from around the state. This year, five WTA staff reveal their three favorite, lesser known hikes. There's something here for everyone, and some great resources to help you get your summer hiking off to a great start.
If you try any of these hikes, we'd love to hear about it. Write a trip report that includes #HikeTheState by July 4th for a chance to win a WTA prize pack!
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Anna Roth (she/her)
Role at WTA: Hiking Guide Content Manager
About Anna: She's the brains behind all that rich content on our Hiking Guide, and she helps manage our volunteer trip reporters who make the Hiking Guide as extensive as it is.
Location: Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
Length: 45 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain: 13,500 feet
This is a super-challenging trek that requires extra pre-planning and likely some route-finding experience, but promises a rugged, gorgeous few days in the landscape south and east of Stevens Pass.
You will need to arrange a key exchange or a pickup/dropoff before your trip — this is a one-way outing that leaves Stevens Pass and wanders along Icicle Ridge, past beautiful lakes and views of deep backcountry mountains.
The route is strenuous, with almost-constant elevation gain and loss, and in places the trail can be quite hard to follow. But those with route-finding experience and the drive to plan a technically (and logistically) challenging trip will be rewarded with stunning scenery and views.
little spokane river - knothead loop
Location: Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d’Alene
Length: 7.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
The Knothead Loop at Little Spokane River Natural Area is a wonderful, quiet trail just outside of Spokane. It’s a good alternate to Riverside State Park, offering a similar feeling in a location that may be new to you. It’s excellent year round, but with some consider
In 2014, WTA crews completed several trail projects here to make the seven-mile route possible. It offers views from a bluff of the river below, and a nice wander through open forest. In addition to the gorgeous views and moderate hike, visitors will start and end their outing at the Painted Rocks Trailhead. Be sure to take a peek at the petroglyphs on a large rock behind a fence nearby, but remember that the paint on these rocks has historic significance. Refrain from adding your own.
Pro tip: This route is excellent year-round, but summer and winter have different conditions to consider. Summertime can be hot, so bring plenty of water — the river here is part of a natural area, so no swimming! If you visit in winter, note that it can get icy; be sure to bring traction devices.
volunteer and Interlaken Park to Washington Park Arboretum
Location: Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
Length: varies, 5.8-mile roundtrip loop described here
Elevation Gain: 620 feet
Lacing these three parks together offers a heart-pumping walk through a beautiful part of Seattle, especially in spring, when the flowers are popping. And your destination (or, depending on where you start, your trailhead) is a world-class arboretum.
For those who live in Capitol Hill, Interlaken, or Montlake, this is also a great walk to do completely car-free. It was a crucial part of my weekly neighborhood walks last year during the Stay Home order.
Start from the Asian Art Museum parking area, head east through Volunteer Park, down Galer to the entrance to Interlaken. Walk the trails through Interlaken park, popping out onto Interlaken Blvd at the bottom of the ravine. Follow Interlaken Blvd to where it crosses 24th. Cross this large road and follow it into the Arboretum. Walking around the perimeter of the park and returning to this point, then heading back up to Volunteer Park the way you came will give you about a 6 miles walk with a little more than 600 feet of elevation gain!
There are miles of trails in the Arboretum. Use this interactive map provided by the University to plan your outing. You could also consider visiting Foster and Marsh Island to extend your trip, but be warned — the route on Marsh Island is... marshy)
Pro tip: Parking can be challenging for Interlaken Park or Volunteer Park. Please park considerately in the parks or the neighborhoods when you visit. If you can, try doing this hike entirely on foot.
WTA’s Trail Next Door campaign is working to increase access to urban trails and green spaces across the state, focusing on underserved communities with little or no access to nature
Kaci Darsow (they/them)
Role at WTA: Youth Trails Program Coordinator
About Kaci: Kaci is in the trenches, sometimes literally, introducing youth to the fun of trail work and helping cultivate the next generation of trail champions. They also have a nearly endless supply of dad jokes and eye-roll inducing puns.
Location: Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
Length: 4.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
This gentle hike through mixed forest with a rewarding view makes for a great first or short one-time adventure.
This relatively easy to get to out-and-back trail off Highway 2 makes for an excellent day hike or introductory overnight backpacking trip. It’s great for kids, too; adorable little ones carrying school backpacks or being carried along with camping gear on their first adventures are a common sight on this trail.
Start off winding along a creek through an old-growth forest filled with ferns, mushrooms, and interesting boulders adorned with cedar roots growing all around them. Some of these roots make it close to the trail, and there are rock stairs along the way. Bring trekking poles if you need help with stability. Cross a log bridge over the creek and head up a few switchbacks before picking your way across an old rockslide. The path has been stable and easy to follow every time I’ve been there. This area is surrounded by deciduous trees which boast an impressive array of fall colors. Arrive at the lake to find a handful of primitive campsites tucked along the shore, and a stunning view of Baring Mountain.
Barclay Lake is maintained by WTA volunteers as part of our Trails Rebooted campaign.
Pro tip: A Northwest Forest Pass is required here, the gravel road suitable for all vehicles. On fair-weather weekends the trailhead parking can get very busy. The parking area has room for 10-15 vehicles, and after that cars begin to line up along either side of the narrow, winding gravel road. Be sure to park so traffic can get past on the road. Vault toilet at the trailhead.
Location: North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Length: 54.5 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain: 4900 feet
There are no roads that lead to the remote village of Stehekin on the north end of Lake Chelan. To get here, you’ll need to take a boat, private plane, or my favorite: hike.
From the Bridge Creek Trailhead 25 miles east of Diablo Dam on Highway 20, hike eight miles up to McAlester Pass for stunning mountain views and wildflowers. Follow the Rainbow Creek trail for 11.5 miles, descending 3,800 feet and passing through vibrant fields of fireweed and forests of various ages and stages of recovery from previous wildfires. Expansive views of Lake Chelan let you know you’re getting close. The tiny town of Stehekin has several campground options, as well as a few indoor accommodations.
When you’re ready to leave, catch the shuttle to High Bridge, and follow the old Stehekin Road Trail to the Park creek trail. Camp at 5 mile camp (about 8 miles beyond the shuttle drop) The view of stunningly blue Booker Glacier will greet you in the morning.
Make the hard steep climb 3 miles to the top of Park Creek Pass for a 360 degree eye-to-eye look at the Cascade Range. Descend the thunder creek trail and be ready for fields of delicious alpine blueberries and a very brushy stretch where you might lose the trail. From the top of the pass to Colonial Creek Campground is 19.5 miles, with 7 campsite options along the way.
The scenery and serenity of this trip make the miles and elevation well worth the work, and ample camping options allow for as challenging or as leisurely of a hike as you want.
To follow this route, park a car at each trailhead or arrange for a drop off/pickup. The Bridge Creek parking area is on the north side of Highway 20; to get to the trailhead for Stehekin, you’ll need to cross the highway.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to stop by Stehekin Pastry Co. for your well deserved freshly baked cinnamon roll. They’re worth the 20-mile hike alone. Want to create epic loops like this on your own? Use our tips.
Point Defiance Park
Location: Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
Length: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
This is a handy city escape with a lot of variety.
Point Defiance Park is my go-to spot when I need to get away from the bustle of the city. Whatever your outdoor interests are, you’re likely to find something to enjoy here. Whether it’s boat rentals on Owens Beach, admiring the Rose and Rhododendron Gardens, taking in the sweeping cliffside views framed by Madrone trees, or stretching your legs on a winding network of quiet trails through a mossy cedar and sword fern forest, this park has it all.
Curious minds can investigate Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and a stand of old-growth trees, featuring a tree ring timeline dating back to the 16th century. If the abundant deer, squirrels, raccoons and barred owls in the park aren’t enough wildlife for you, you can check out Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium right next door. Folks who would rather stay in the car while they hike can even enjoy the rich green forest and waterfront views through the windshield as they motor around 5 Mile Drive.
No pass is required to park here, and dogs are allowed at the off-leash dog park or on trail if leashed.
Role at WTA: Office Manager
About Lezlie: Lezlie is the person who answers when you call WTA for hiking information. They hiked 1700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in California and loved it. They encountered rattlesnakes, curious skunks, lonesome bears, and ravenous hikers (never let your Snickers down). Their best experience was meeting a PCT southbounder who started hiking the 2700-mile trail in 1977 and was completing their last miles in 2012.
Umatilla Rock via Monument Coulee
Location: Central Washington - Grand Coulee, north of Moses Lake
Length: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
Hike the west in Eastern Washington. You will not miss the trees in this geological wonderland where blue skies meet broad vistas. On the trail and from a magnificent visitor center viewpoint, marvel at the immense power of water in this now arid land. Photographers will be inspired, and star gazers will be amazed. Sun Lakes - Dry Falls State Park is a great overnight destination for gatherings of family and friends.
Garfield Ledges via the Taylor River Connector (Middle Fork Connector)
Location: Snoqualmie Region -- North Bend Area
Length: 2.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 830 feet
Near but not on the beaten path. Leave others to circle the parking lots at Mount Si and Rattlesnake Ledge; instead find comparable views with plenty of parking at Garfield Ledges in the upper reaches of the lovely Middle Fork Snoqualmie valley. This well-designed trail is short enough to fit into a busy schedule. Plus it’ll impress, but not overwhelm, your out-of-state visitors.
If you'd like to add on a few more miles while you're in the area, consider heading over to the nearby CCC Road: Upper Trailhead, too.
Pro tip: The Garfield Ledges trailhead is known for having a gnarly pothole just after crossing the bridge. Save your car from the bumpy ride and opt to park at the Taylor River Connector (aka Middle Fork Connector) beforehand.
Location: Olympic Peninsula -- Hood Canal
Length: 8.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2700 feet
When you need to get from A to B, go through Notch Pass. As summer approached, native village groups wintering on Hood Canal’s Daobob Bay would often use this route to the interior of the Olympics. With native people displaced, the trail disappeared beneath decades of logging and a fire, but volunteers restored a segment of this route in the 2000s. The trail climbs through second-growth forest to the pass and descends through spooky doghair forest then dappled canopies of cedars and rhododendrons to end at the Big Quilcene River. Enjoy the trail and imagine the history beneath your feet.
- Forest Road 010 is accessible year round with limited parking, but Forest Road 27 becomes inaccessible in winter.
- Get a late start? Hike the shorter but equally strenuous Mount Walker trail.
- Want more miles? Connect to Lower Big Quilcene for ample camping and a longer route.
- Hungry? Stop at Gearhead Deli or 101 Brewery and Cafe in Quilcene WA on your way home.
Stasia Honnold (she/her)
Role at WTA: Southwest Regional Trails Manager
About Stasia: She coordinates all the trailwork we do in SW Washington. Her favorite way to scout trail conditions is to stitch together massive trail run loops. She doesn't own a car and would love to talk to you about incorporating bicycles into your adventure planning.
Location: Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
Length: 1.0 mile, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
This is a great stop on the way to or from some of the more popular hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. With several picnic tables, a restroom, and an accessible loop path, it makes a great stop for lunch, a short jaunt to the Columbia River, or just a leg-stretcher for kiddos (or dogs). There’s even (theoretically) a kayak launch, though I have not personally noticed (let me know if you find it!).
St. Cloud lies in part of a much larger network of protected wetlands and streams along the Columbia River, so waterfowl and wildlife are frequent visitors and residents. Though it’s not a great spot for a strenuous hike, it is a really nice and accessible spot to unwind, chill out, and take in the immensity of the Columbia River.
Pro tip: If you go in fall, there are apple trees with many different apples to sample. Spring is a great time for migratory birds and flowers, and if it’s cold enough in the winter, you can look across the Columbia River to see frozen waterfalls on the Oregon side.
Location: Southwest Washington -- Long Beach Area
Length: varies, from 2.9 to 10 roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
This is a hike for those of you who like to explore wetlands, bays, and oceans! The trail starts at Willapa Bay, and you wind your way along the shore before cutting inland to work your way across the Long Beach Peninsula. Only about a mile later, you emerge from the coastal forest at the Pacific Ocean, with miles and miles of shoreline to explore. There are several trails, so you can make big or small loops depending on your energy level. Or just spend all day on the beach.
This area is part of the Pacific Flyway and has amazing bird habitat, so bring your binoculars if you want close-up looks at some avian friends. That also means that dogs must be kept on leash, especially on the trails on the beach, which run through protected bird habitat. In the mammal world, harbor seals are also frequent visitors on the ocean side, and whales pass by during their migrations in spring and fall.
Word to the wise: in winter and spring (or at high tide after a lot of rain), some of the trails across the Peninsula can be fully underwater — bring your rubber boots!
Parking at Leadbetter requires a Discover Pass, but they are not available for purchase at the trailhead. Buy one online or in-person at Cape Disappointment State Park on the southern tip of the Peninsula if you don’t have one already.
The whole Long Beach Peninsula is a great place to spend a weekend. Camp at Cape Disappointment (yurts and cabins are also available), bring your bicycle to pedal along the 8.2-mile Discovery Trail, and have some delicious seafood at one of the many charming restaurants along the peninsula.
twin sisters lakes and tumac mountain
Location: South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
Length: 6.7 miles roundtrip to Twin Sisters Lakes, 15.6-miles roundtrip to Twin Sisters Lakes, over Tumac Mountain, and back
Elevation Gain: 2400 feet to Twin Sisters Lake; 3800 with Tumac Mountain
An area full of beautiful alpine lakes, bugling elk, and — in the spring — plentiful mosquitos, it’s (a little) like going to Mount Rainier without the permits or the crowds. I’ve only outlined one hike here, but my favorite thing about this area is the sheer volume of different loop hikes you can make. Start at the Deep Creek or Soda Springs trailheads (or others described below), bring your tent, and loop together a plethora of trails for an experience totally tailored to your energy level, curiosity, and hiking desires.
From the top of Tumac Mountain, where there was once a fire lookout, you get lovely views of Mount Rainier, the Goat Rocks and the rest of the Cascades. The sparkling lakes along the way are tempting to jump into, but please be mindful of the chemicals you may inadvertently dump into these fragile ecosystems if you’re wearing bug spray, sunscreen, or anything similar.
You’ll want to brush up on your backcountry camping skills and Leave No Trace before trying this one. Much of this area is fairly remote, so leave an itinerary with a friend and be comfortable with backcountry emergency communication.
You can also start at Deep Creek Trailhead, White Pass Campground or Dog Lake Campground for other loop options in the area. This is a fantastic wilderness to pull out a map and let your imagination run wild.
Allie Tripp (she/her)
Role at WTA: Strategic Initiatives Manager
About Allie: Allie works with all our program teams to connect the work they do to our strategic campaigns. This summer she is also managing WTA's Trail Mix newsletter (a special benefit if you become a monthly donor!).
Fort Ebey State Park
Location: Puget Sound and Islands -- Whidbey Island
Length: varies; 25 miles of trails in park
Elevation Gain: around 500 feet (depending on loop)
Enjoy beautiful coastal vistas and forest walking on one of dozens of potential loops through Fort Ebey State Park. You can practice building your own loops (and map reading skills) on the 25 miles of trails in this park. Ambitious hikers might even challenge themselves to never walk the same trail twice (except for perhaps the trail to the restroom!). Whatever you do, don’t miss the Bluff Trail.
Fort Ebey is a great day hike alternative to the nearby (and busier) Ebey's Landing — but it’s an even better place to car camp for the weekend. (Bringing the whole family? We have some great tips for camping with kids.) Sunsets from the bluff trail are spectacular, and don’t forget your binoculars for wildlife spotting.
Pro tip: You’ll need a Discover Pass to park at Fort Ebey. If you take the ferry over to Whidbey, make a stop at Old Spot Bistro to pick up some coffee and famous Whidbey Pies.
DASH POINT STATE PARK
Location: Puget Sound and Islands
Length: 11 miles of hiking trails, 7 miles of biking trails
Elevation Gain: varies (the heart attack hill trail will get your blood pumping!)
If you’re short on time but really want to smell the ocean and maybe go for a walk in the woods (but still feel like you’re away from the hustle and bustle of the cities around Puget Sound) check out Dash Point State Park. It is just north of Tacoma and features 11 miles of hiking trails and 8 miles of biking trails in addition to 140 campsites. The real star of the show is the 3,301 feet of saltwater shoreline you can explore.
I recommend starting your hike at the beach, backtracking through the parking lot and then hiking up both the Old Boundary Trail and the East Rim Trail to check out the bird viewing platforms. Pack along a trail map and bring your binoculars, you can see all sorts of forest and shore birds in addition to tons of marine life from the beach.
This park offers 111 standard campsites and 27 utility sites that accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. Make a reservation on the State Parks website and enjoy a respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. And don't forget your Discover Pass!
Location: Mount Rainier Area -- Chinook Pass - Hwy 410
Length: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 950 feet
If you’re looking for an alternative to some of the scenic and popular routes in Mount Rainier National Park, check out Noble Knob! It’s located in the Snoquera region, just northeast of Mount Rainier National Park off of Highway 410.
At 5.0 miles round trip and just under 1,000 feet of elevation gain — this hike is great for a lot of people. There are incredible 360° views from the summit. On the way up you also get to witness mother nature’s recovery from the 2017 Norse Peak Fire. Late spring and early summer show off incredible wildflowers as well.
You might spot a WTA trail crew in the area this summer. WTA has been doing trail work on this trail as far back as 1998, but we made a significant jump in our effort to support the fire recovery starting in 2019.
There is a lot of dispersed camping opportunities in the Snoquera area off of Forest Road 70 (along with USFS campsites like The Dalles right of Highway 410). Be sure to pack out all your trash and remind yourself how to pitch a tent in the right place!