Top Seven Hiking Trails in Washington State

This blog post is brought to you by guest author Scott Moses of Live Once Live Wild. We love Scott's infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors! Enjoy his article on the 7 best hikes in Washington State and check out his website: www.liveoncelivewild.com


Introduction

When it comes to planning a trip out west, most people think of visiting the Rocky Mountains, or Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. While these places are certainly fantastic places to visit, one of the hidden gems of the West that many people miss out on is Washington State. This state offers some of the best hiking trails found anywhere, and a cross state vacation will allow you to enjoy diverse beauty from ocean hiking to rainforest hiking to hiking the open plains on the eastern part of the state. Below you´ll find the top seven hiking trails that Washington state has to offer.

Horseshoe Basin

On the eastern slope of the Northern Cascade Mountain Range, you can find a quality hike at Horseshoe Basin. This hike is only a 12-mile round trip which makes it a doable day hike. However, if you have the time, you will definitely want to get a backcountry permit and take along a tent to stretch this into a several day adventure. From climbing several local peaks to making it all the way to the Canadian border, the Horseshoe Basin area has plenty to explore. A relatively minimal elevation gain of just over 1,500 feet makes this a hike that pretty much anyone can do.

On the eastern slope of the Northern Cascade Mountain Range, you can find a quality hike at Horseshoe Basin. This hike is only a 12-mile round trip which makes it a doable day hike. However, if you have the time, you will definitely want to get a backcountry permit and take along a tent to stretch this into a several day adventure. From climbing several local peaks to making it all the way to the Canadian border, the Horseshoe Basin area has plenty to explore. A relatively minimal elevation gain of just over 1,500 feet makes this a hike that pretty much anyone can do.

Park Butte

Also in the North Cascades, but on the western slope you can find another quality day hike that can also be turned into an overnighter. Park Butte is an alpine hike that takes you pretty close to towering Mount Baker, one of the highest mountains in the state. Make it a priority to hike Park Butte in the fall time and you´d be hard pressed to find more stunning autumn color.

Also in the North Cascades, but on the western slope you can find another quality day hike that can also be turned into an overnighter. Park Butte is an alpine hike that takes you pretty close to towering Mount Baker, one of the highest mountains in the state. Make it a priority to hike Park Butte in the fall time and you´d be hard pressed to find more stunning autumn color.

Chain Lakes

While you are in the area of Mount Baker, you might as well hike its slopes as well. The Chain Lakes hike near Mount Baker is perhaps the best way to get your fill of mountain lakes, and there are plenty of them. For some reason, however, you can never get enough of the beauty of mountain lakes and this hike will allow you to explore several. While the actual hike is only just over two miles, there are several longer loop options that will allow you to stretch this hike into an overnighter.

While you are in the area of Mount Baker, you might as well hike its slopes as well. The Chain Lakes hike near Mount Baker is perhaps the best way to get your fill of mountain lakes, and there are plenty of them. For some reason, however, you can never get enough of the beauty of mountain lakes and this hike will allow you to explore several. While the actual hike is only just over two miles, there are several longer loop options that will allow you to stretch this hike into an overnighter.

Hoh Rainforest Trail

Who says that you have to travel to the Amazon in order to enjoy walking through a rainforest. In the western part of Washington, the warmer air currents coming off the Pacific Coast give way to a truly unique ecosystem in the Hoh Rainforest. The actual Hoh Rainforest Trail is a treasure of a hike; ten miles of magic as you meander through the open understory of massive trees cloaked in layers of moss. The nearby Olympic Mountains also offer some great panoramic views once you stumble out of the thickness of the rainforest canopy.

Who says that you have to travel to the Amazon in order to enjoy walking through a rainforest. In the western part of Washington, the warmer air currents coming off the Pacific Coast give way to a truly unique ecosystem in the Hoh Rainforest. The actual Hoh Rainforest Trail is a treasure of a hike; ten miles of magic as you meander through the open understory of massive trees cloaked in layers of moss. The nearby Olympic Mountains also offer some great panoramic views once you stumble out of the thickness of the rainforest canopy.

Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall

Beaches aren't just for surfing, swimming, and sun bathing. The northwest coast of Washington also offers some fantastic beach hiking options and Rialto Beach is the one beach hike you simply cannot miss out on. This simple four mild round trip is great for families as it will offer you some gentle climbs to cliffs overlooking the ocean while also taking you right down to the shore where you can search for shells, starfish and other ocean treasures.

Beaches aren't just for surfing, swimming, and sun bathing. The northwest coast of Washington also offers some fantastic beach hiking options and Rialto Beach is the one beach hike you simply cannot miss out on. This simple four mild round trip is great for families as it will offer you some gentle climbs to cliffs overlooking the ocean while also taking you right down to the shore where you can search for shells, starfish and other ocean treasures.

Quinault River-Pony Bridge-Enchanted Valley

Who wouldn´t want to hike in an enchanted valley? This classic hike is a must if you are planning on visiting Olympic National Park in the northwestern part of the state. The actual trail will take you through moss covered trees and also into open prairies where you stand a pretty good chance of spotting elk, black bears, and other local wildlife.

Who wouldn´t want to hike in an enchanted valley? This classic hike is a must if you are planning on visiting Olympic National Park in the northwestern part of the state. The actual trail will take you through moss covered trees and also into open prairies where you stand a pretty good chance of spotting elk, black bears, and other local wildlife.

Snowgrass Flats

The Goat Rocks Wilderness Area might not be as well-known as some of the other natural areas around Washington State. Nonetheless, for wild flower lovers, you´d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful area. You can plan up a 20-mile round trip hike through Snowgrass Flats, the Cispus Basin, and the Nannie Ridge Loop. This hike is best done as a 3-4 day hike and will keep you high on the ridges offering stunning views of the valleys below and Mount Saint Helens in the distance.

The Goat Rocks Wilderness Area might not be as well-known as some of the other natural areas around Washington State. Nonetheless, for wild flower lovers, you´d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful area. You can plan up a 20-mile round trip hike through Snowgrass Flats, the Cispus Basin, and the Nannie Ridge Loop. This hike is best done as a 3-4 day hike and will keep you high on the ridges offering stunning views of the valleys below and Mount Saint Helens in the distance.

 

Make It an Epic Adventure

As you have probably seen, hiking Washington State offers a whole variety of landscapes, from rainforests to beach hiking to the relative flatlands of the eastern part of the state. If you are really looking to turn your hiking trip into an exotic adventure, consider exploring other areas of the western United States. Check out this website LiveOnceLiveWild.com which offers some great complete guides to some of the best national parks to visit out west.