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18 Easy Hikes in Washington State (Perfect for Beginners)

From the moss-laden rainforests and sweeping coastline of Olympic National Park, to the alpine lakes and snow-covered peaks of the Cascades, Washington State is blessed with some of the most pristine nature in North America. The diversity of landscapes and ecosystems is nothing short of incredible, with rainforest, the Pacific Coast, arid desert traversed by a snaking river and canyons, ancient forests, snowy mountains, and glacial lakes. 

I may be mildly biased as a native Washingtonian but in my opinion, it is tricky to beat the abundance of the Pacific Northwest’s nature. There are few things that I love more than the smell of evergreen trees as I climb through old-growth forests and meadows bursting with wildflowers and berries to catch mountain views.

My favorite pastime during the summer and fall months is to trek along the abundance of trails in the region, exploring everything from the easy hikes in Washington state, to the more challenging routes involving greater distances and more elevation gain.

If you’re a first timer to the region or are relatively new to hiking, the more difficult trails and backpacking routes can initially be intimidating. The great news is that you don’t have to trek deep into the wilderness to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest. There are plenty of beginner hikes in Washington State that are accessible for all experience and fitness levels and will still bring you into some of the most exquisite wilderness with phenomenal views.

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What to Know Before Hitting the Trail in Washington

Nature can be unpredictable, so it is always best to come prepared even if you’re embarking on a shorter hike. Read road and trail condition reports in advance to make sure you’re up to date on any road closures or difficult trail conditions.

Some of the roads to the trailheads can be potholed and challenging, so ensure that your car is equipped to make the journey before hitting the road. High clearance vehicles are always recommended if possible. 

While many of the easier hiking trails don’t require hiking boots, they are still best traversed with a sturdy pair of walking or running shoes. Bring a small pack with water, snacks, and weather-appropriate accessories – whether it’s sunscreen during the summer or a rain jacket in the fall. 

Practice common courtesy wherever you go, including packing out everything you carry in, staying on the trails to avoid negatively impacting the ecosystem, and respecting any wildlife you might encounter along the way.

Squirrel and chipmunk sightings are almost always guaranteed, with mountain goat and black bear sightings less common but even more thrilling. I’ve been lucky enough to see them all, including a black bear family cooling off in a lake! Respect the wildlife and they’ll respect you, which also means: DO NOT FEED THE CHIPMUNKS. 

The Best Easy Hikes in Washington State

Below is a selection of my favorite easy hikes in Washington State. My favorite hikes are at the top of the list, an order that is entirely subjective based on my personal preference of scenery and trail styles.

Blue Lake (North Cascades National Park) 

  • Length: 4.4 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,050 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Blue Lake is a moderate hike situated in the mesmerizing North Cascades. The trailhead is located immediately off of Highway 20, making it easily accessible and a great half-day hike if you don’t have much time but want to experience a taste of the North Cascades.

Start off on a boardwalk that leads you into the forest. Throughout the hike, you’ll be meandering in and out of the forest, across a creek, and through grassy meadows.

During the last stretch of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with vast views of Cutthroat Peak and Whistler Mountain.

Not far from here, cross over a log bridge to reach the shores of Blue Lake. Stop for lunch while you admire the mountain lake views and perhaps even brave the icy waters.

If time allows it, stop by the Washington Pass Overlook on your way back, which can be accessed by a short trail from the trailhead, and has pristine views over the jagged peaks of Liberty Mountain.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Naches Peak Loop (Mount Rainier National Park) 

  • Length: 3.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

The Naches Peak Loop is a short but sweet trail offering an easy to moderate hike with the best of the alpine experience. The trail starts from Tipsoo Lake- we like the parking lot on the southeast side because it has restrooms – and is located just before Chinook Pass when driving from Enumclaw. 

The Tipsoo Lake parking area is quite big and has bathroom facilities, though can fill up on summer days. 

Enjoy the gentle stroll through grassy meadows before heading up a small valley blossoming with colorful wildflowers and berries during summer months. You should do this hike clockwise for the best views of Mount Rainier. 

You’ll eventually come across a viewpoint looking down onto Dewey Lake, which is a prime spot for a snack or lunch break. Continue right at the junction with the Naches Peak Loop Trail, at which point you’ll cross over alpine meadows with spectacular views of Mount Rainier. 

This trail loops back to the Tipsoo Lake parking lot, completing the compact yet rewarding trek through Mount Rainier’s alpine glory. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall (Olympic National Park) 

  • Length: 4 miles roundtrip 
  • Elevation Gain: 0 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

Starting from the Rialto Beach parking lot, the entirety of the hike stretches along the incredibly scenic Olympic Coast. Enjoy a lazy, two-mile walk along the beach from Rialto to Hole in the Wall.

Take your time to enjoy the many attractions around you, from views over distant islands and dramatic sea stacks, to crashing waves breaking over Gunsight Rock.

Along the way, you’ll walk across sand, rock, and driftwood. Keep your eyes peeled for whales, otters, and sea lions in the water and look above in search of eagles and seabirds.

Hole in the Wall is your reward at the end of a fascinating beach walk and if the tide is out, scramble around the arch and explore the tide pools alive with small sea critters.

Take your time enjoying the treasures of the coast before turning around and heading back to Rialto. Take a dip in the frigid waters of the Pacific, relax on the shore with a picnic or a drink, read a book, and watch the waves crash over the shore.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Thunder Knob (North Cascades National Park) 

  • Length: 3.6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 635 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: None

This short hike offers a nice introduction to the North Cascades. The trailhead for Thunder Knob is located off of Highway 20, just to the right of the Colonial Creek Campground, where you’ll find a parking area and toilets.

Whether you’re after a very doable hike for all fitness levels or are wanting to break up a long drive on the North Cascades Highway, Thunder Knob won’t disappoint.

After crossing a series of bridges, you’ll enter the forest and walk across a mossy carpet beneath elegant trees. As the trail gently climbs higher, you’ll find yourself surrounded by stunning peaks. Continue up the trail and across a marsh, which can be filled with water early in the season.

Finish the climb up to Thunder Knob, where you’ll be rewarded with views of the clear, blue waters of Diablo Lake, which change color depending on the time of the year and the way the light hits it. As you rest, take in views of Sourdough Mountain and Jack Mountain and then head back on the same trail. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Bench and Snow Lakes (Mount Rainier National Park) 

  • Length: 2.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 610 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

A hike that encompasses the best of the alpine experience away from the crowds, Bench and Snow Lakes are ideal if you are in search of a mini-Rainier adventure accessible for all levels.

The parking lot can be accessed from the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park when coming from the west or through the Stevens Canyon entrance when driving from the east. The parking lot is where there is a sign for “Snow Lake” and has space for about 15-20 vehicles.

The trail quickly ascends up steps before entering greenery and trees surrounded by blueberry and huckleberry bushes in the late summer. Despite the low elevation gain, the trail continuously dips and climbs.

About a half mile in, you’ll catch glimpses of Mount Rainier and can soon take a side trail to the shore of Bench Lake, where you’ll find dramatic views of Rainier with the beautiful subalpine lake in the foreground. Return back to the main trail to continue to Snow Lake, which is worth the visit.

Climb up a trail surrounded by vertical rocks, admiring the rising landscapes around you. At Snow Lake, there is also a campground where permits are required for overnight camping.

Take your time to wander the area around the lake, admiring views of peaks in the Talus Range, including Unicorn Peak, before turning back in the direction you came from.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Noble Knob (Mount Rainier National Park) 

  • Length: 5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 950 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Noble Knob offers a rewarding tromp through the forest with minimal elevation gain, meadows splashed with colorful wildflowers, and up-close, clear views of the glaciers of Mount Rainier. There are two starting points to Noble Knob at either end of Noble Knob Trail 1184, one from Corral Pass and the other from Twentyeight Mile Road.

I’ve hiked it from Dallas Ridge, which is primarily a very approachable ridgeline hike since you’ll have covered most of the elevation gain on the road to the trailhead.

About a mile into the hike, enjoy phenomenal views of Rainier, Baker, and Glacier Peak. The trail will steadily incline from this point until you reach the summit of Noble Knob.

At the top, take in panoramic views including Lost Lake, Twentyeight Mile Lake, George Lake, and Mount Rainier. Enjoy the views over forested peaks, glacial lakes, and lush meadows below as you take a lunch or snack break before heading back on the same trail. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Bridal Veil Falls (Central Cascades)

  • Length: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

The trailhead for Bridal Veil Falls is the same as the one for Lake Serene, which is located not far from the town of Gold Bar. You’ll find the parking lot just ahead of the Lake Serene Trail sign.

While it may look spacious, be aware that these are both extremely popular hikes and on a summer weekend, there are often more cars than the parking lot can fit.

The trail starts out very mildly and remains quite easy for most of the hike. Follow an abandoned road through a forest of grand alder trees, maple trees draped in moss, and old growth conifers. Be wary of places along the trail that may be a bit wet from streams crossing through.

About 1.5 miles in, follow the Lake Serene trail to the left. As you cross the bridge, stop to admire views of the lower falls. The last stretch of the trail will be a bit more challenging, as you climb up a rocky trail and up a number of staircases. The climb is well rewarded with spectacular views of Bridal Veil Falls at the top.

Delight in the refreshing spray as you take a break on the boulders, admiring the mighty rush of the falls. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Bagley Lakes (North Cascades / Mount Baker)

  • Length: 2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 150 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

Located in the Mt. Baker ski area in the North Cascades, Bagley Lakes is the perfect family hike to experience the splendor of the Pacific Northwest. In just two miles, this easy hike passes through vibrant wildflower fields, past two glistening alpine lakes, and over a year-round snowfield against a dramatic mountain backdrop.

The trailhead starts from a large parking lot marked with a sign “Bagley Lakes.” Start by heading to Lower Bagley Lake and from there, follow the sign for Bagley Lakes Loop along a trail that curves around the lake. Enjoy walking among dense forests of evergreen trees, brilliant with shades of wildflowers in the summer or the warm hues of autumn in the fall months.

Take in views of Table Mountain as you cross a bridge to reach Upper Bagley Lake. Dip your toes in the chilled lake water or simply relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Above the upper lake, you can take a short detour to a snowfield that exists year-round. To loop back around, cross back over the bridge and follow the Chain Lakes Trail, walk over some rocks and streams, and end back in the parking lot. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Silver Falls (Mount Rainier National Park) 

  • Length: 3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

This straightforward loop offers a gentle and rewarding stroll in the southeastern corner of Mount Rainier National Park.

Start the hike at the northeastern end of the Loop B camp in Ohanapecosh Campground next to the Ohanapecosh River. Initially follow signs for the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Trail for a brief moment until it veers off to the right and you’ll continue into the old growth forest where you will catch views over falls crashing into the icy river.

Follow switchbacks through the forest until you reach a bridge that will offer pristine views over Silver Falls and the river.

Take your time enjoying the falls and grandeur of the forest and mountains around you. The loop then continues away from the river, leading you back through a mossy forest until you reach the start of your hike.

There is a day use parking lot at the campground and if the parking lot is full, there is a Visitor Center that can offer assistance. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Second Beach (Olympic National Park) 

  • Length: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 310 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

The hikes in Olympic National Park offer a distinctly different experience and terrain than the hikes in the Cascade region – traversing moss-draped rainforests and extending along dramatic coastlines of the Pacific.

The hike to Second Beach begins just outside of the town of La Push. The parking lot for Second Beach is very small but there is also an overflow parking space where many more cars can fit. To reach the trailhead, head downhill past a fence and kiosk.

From here, follow the trail weaving among statuesque trees, largely downhill as you pass through old-growth, moss-laden forest until you reach the beach. Wander up and down the beach, admiring the dramatic views of sea stacks rising from the ocean and exploring the trees and natural arch along the coast.

Keep in mind that the tide can change quickly and be careful that you have a way to get back. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Barclay Lake (Central Cascades) 

  • Length: 4.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

The trail leaves directly from the parking lot (which has room for about 20 cars) and follows along Barclay Creek for most of the way. Although there isn’t significant elevation gain, there is a decent amount of up and down along the trail to keep things interesting. Along the way, you’ll pass through forests of Douglas firs, red cedars, and western hemlocks. Look out for wild mushrooms, salmonberries, and wildflowers.

The trail receives significant rainfall and can be slippery and muddy throughout the year. Be especially careful as you cross Barclay Creek via a log bridge, which can be very slippery.

At 1.7 miles, you’ll reach the north shore of Barclay Lake, where you can stop for a rest and enjoy the views of evergreens and the rocky face of Baring Mountain reflecting in the water. To complete the 2.2 miles, continue walking along the trail that loops around the shores of the lake and offers alternative views of Baring Mountain.

Once you’ve had your fill of mountain lake, turn around and head back on the same trail you walked in on. Barclay Lake is quite a popular hike so if you have the option, go during the week as opposed to on the weekend or arrive at the trailhead early in the morning to avoid crowds.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Comet Falls Trail (Mount Rainier National Park)

  • Length: 3.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,250 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

Comet Falls can easily be accessed from either the east or the west entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.

The trailhead has parking for about 16 cars, though there aren’t any amenities like a bathroom. Comet Falls is an exciting and accessible hike if you’re wanting to experience some of the magic of Rainier’s waterfalls, which are some of the best waterfalls in Washington.

Shortly after you set out on the trail, you’ll catch views over the churning waters of a whitewater creek below Christine Falls.

Follow the trail as it weaves in and out of the forest with frequent views of Van Trump Creek. Along the way, you’ll spot Bloucher Falls, which are quite spectacular on a sunny day as the mist glistens in the sunlight. Not much further along, you’ll see the pinnacle of the hike: the mighty Comet Falls.

Continue up a few steep switchbacks to have a closer view of the falls, though be prepared to get very wet and be wary of potential rockfall at the higher up point. After you’ve been sufficiently drenched from the refreshing spray of Comet Falls, head back in the direction you came from. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Nisqually Vista Loop (Mount Rainier National Park)

  • Length: 1.1 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

Starting from the Paradise Visitor Center, Nisqually Vista Loop covers a lot of ground in a short distance.

Follow this minimal-elevation loop through some of the most spectacular Mount Rainier scenery. There is both an upper and lower parking lot at Paradise offering extensive parking, though on summer days, it can still fill up due to popularity.

The trail for Nisqually Vista is paved and is accessible for most ages and fitness levels. Although you can go either direction on the loop, follow the path counterclockwise to save the best views for the end. Enjoy numerous viewpoints along the way.

There really is never a bad view on this loop, as you’re up close to glaciers along most of the walk. The furthest point on the trail, at about 0.5 miles, is the most dramatic view by far though, marked with a sign reading “Nisqually Glacier.”

Admire the lush green valley and ice fields before continuing around the loop and back to the parking area.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Hurricane Hill (Olympic National Park) 

  • Length: 3.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 650 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

Hurricane Hill is the perfect hike that is accessible for all levels and also gives a taste of the mountains in Olympic National Park.

Drive about 20 miles from Port Angeles to reach the parking area, which is located a mile and a half from Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center.

At the Visitors Center, you can grab a park pass, use the bathroom facilities, and fill up on water if needed. The views of the Bailey Range begin right from the parking lot. Initially, follow a wide, easy trail through pine forests. You’ll cross over three switchbacks before you reach the summit, Hurricane Hill, which is aptly named for the winds and unpredictable weather that blow through this ridge.

Admire views over the Bailey Range, Port Angeles, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the top before heading back down. Hurricane Hill trail is also the starting point for a number of other trails if you are motivated to keep exploring. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Marymere Falls (Olympic National Park) 

  • Length: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

Marymere Falls is a hike that is accessible for all experience levels. The trailhead is located about 20 miles west of Port Angeles near the shores of Lake Crescent. The trail is well-maintained and starts from Storm King Ranger Station, where you’ll set out on a paved path through old-growth forest.

Walk through walls of ferns and across carpets of moss before crossing two creeks and heading up a gentle incline. At the pinnacle of the hike, you’ll reach a small loop with two viewpoints of the 90-foot high Marymere Falls.

Take your time basking in the spectacular roar of the falls. If you wish to extend the hike by a short distance, follow Barnes Creek downstream to Lake Crescent Lodge, wandering through the forest and along the shores of Lake Crescent. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Cape Flattery (Olympic National Park) 

  • Length: 1.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: Makah Recreation Pass (information here)

To reach Cape Flattery, drive about 70 miles from Port Angeles towards Neah Bay. Cape Flattery Parking is situated at the end of Cape Loop Road and has space for about 20 cars. This hike traverses the furthest northwest tip of the continental United States and is an accessible hike through open forest that leads to dramatic ocean views. 

The hike is managed by the Makah Tribe, who provide permits for the hike at Washburn’s General Store, along with many other hikes in Neah Bay. 

The trail switches between gravel, boardwalk, and rooted ground and encourages hikers to remain on the marked trail to reduce impact on the local habitat. You can catch views from three different turnoff points, admiring sea caves, Tatoosh Island, a sole lighthouse, and the rocky Cape Flattery reef. 

Keep watch for bald eagles soaring above and for marine animals playing in the surf. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Cascade Falls (Orcas Island)

  • Length: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass

Located on Orcas Island in the San Juan Archipelago, Moran State Park has some of the best hiking options on the isle. Stop by the information center after you enter the gate to Moran State Park if you need a Discover Pass. There are a number of routes to take to reach Cascade Falls.

Choose to start from the South Camp day-use parking lot or continue to the parking area for the Cascade Falls trailhead off of Mt. Constitution Road. This parking area offers the shortest hike. For a longer hike, start from the Cascade Lake trail.

Along the way, enjoy walking among towering trees and a number of other waterfalls.

Follow Cascade Creek up to the top of the falls and admire the views from above and the thundering roar of the cascading water. There are two other viewpoints that can be reached by descending down the side of the falls that are well worth the stop. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Green Mountain, Gold Creek Trail (Olympic Peninsula) 

  • Length: 5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass

Located about 12 miles from Bremerton, the Gold Creek Trail is a great option for hiking, biking, or even trail running on the Olympic Peninsula. There is a relatively spacious parking area at the trailhead off of Gold Creek Road.

The trail winds its way through a forested area up to the top of Green Mountain. Start off in an old logged area before entering a shaded forest and walking through rows of madronas and rhododendrons. Once you reach the junction marked “Green Mountain Camp,” keep right and take the trail marked “Vista.”

At this point, the trail will come to an end but there’s still another half mile to go to the summit. Admire views over the forested peninsula and the Hood Canal at the top and on your way back down, as you follow the Plummer Trail back to the parking lot.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Passes and Permits in Washington

Most of the hikes on this list, as long as they are a part of a national park or state forest, will require some sort of pass. The passes vary by hike and include the NW Forest Pass, the America the Beautiful Pass, and the Discover Pass. The passes are a way to help maintain quality trails and safe hiking experiences in the outdoors in Washington.  

At the trailheads, you will find a sign indicating which pass is required. For many, you’ll need to display the pass in your car. If you don’t have the seasonal pass, you can pay at the ranger station if there is one on the way. Alternatively, pay the fee at the box by the trailhead and display the envelope in your car. 

The America the Beautiful Pass is needed for any national park in the U.S., including Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park in Washington. You can buy the pass in advance or purchase it at a ranger station or park entrance. Although you can buy a pass for a single park, it is worth investing in the America the Beautiful Pass if you plan on visiting three or more national parks during the next 12 months. The pass will grant you entrance into all national parks in the United States. 

The Northwest Forest Pass gives you access to all National Forest trails in both Washington and Oregon. This pass is required for almost all of the hikes outside of the national parks in Washington, including most trailheads in the Cascades and the Olympics. 

The Discover Pass is less common for trailheads and is required for parking at Washington State Parks, including campgrounds, water access points, and wildlife areas. 

The Hiking Season in Washington

Hiking season in Washington depends on where you’re going. 

The general rule of thumb is that peak hiking season falls between late spring/early summer and mid-autumn, typically lasting from July through October.

Lower elevation trails are clear of snow by late May or early June, while others at higher elevations won’t be clear until late June or early-mid July. 

Hiking in the Summer

Summer (July and August) is unquestionably the most popular hiking season in Washington when the weather is most favorable, days are longest, and trails are almost always reliably free from snow.

Other perks of summer hiking include the invariably blue skies, refreshing lake dips along your hike on a sunny day, and in mid-late summer, the pleasure of experiencing meadows exploding with colorful wildflowers and edible mountain berries. 

The downside? Everyone loves hiking in Washington during the summer so parking lots will fill up fast and trails will be more crowded. Forest fires are also an increasingly common occurrence from mid-late August, resulting in smoky air and occasional trail closures.

Hiking in the Fall 

Early-to-mid fall, from early September through mid-late October, is another fantastic time of the year to hike in Washington. The cooler temperatures can actually be a pleasant change from warmer summer days and perfect conditions for hiking as long as it is still dry.

Crowds are beginning to thin out so you’re more likely to have quiet trails. And of course, the transition of seasons also means brilliant autumn colors showing off on the trails. Enjoy a spectacle of fiery reds, burnt oranges, and flaming gold painting the trees and bushes in the Olympic and Cascade regions of Washington.

Keep in mind that the sun quickly starts to set much earlier so take this into account when timing your hike, so you don’t end up coming back in the dark. 

Winter and Spring Hiking in Washington

Late fall through winter and spring are generally quiet hiking months in Washington. 

  • In Mount Rainier National Park, the majority of roads (and thus trails) close after the first snowfall, which ranges from mid-October to mid-November, depending on the year. Paradise is the only section of the park that remains open year-round, and at that time many of the trails are only accessible for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

  • The same applies to hikes in the North Cascades. From November through March, the area is very wet and snowy. Many of the trails are covered with snow well into July and roads will be impassable until late spring or early summer. Although hiking isn’t impossible with a bit of snow on the trails, conditions can be unpredictable, icy, slippery, and difficult to navigate for beginner hikers. 

  • Lower elevation hikes in the foothills of the mountains, in Olympic National Park, and along the coast are more accessible year-round. Although conditions will still be chilly and wet during the late fall, winter, and early spring months, you won’t have to contend with snow or icy trails. 

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