33+ of the Best Hikes in Washington

It’s difficult to narrow down the best hikes in Washington.

The state has hundreds upon hundreds of fantastic hikes. These range from strenuous mountain treks to salty jaunts along the coast to meandering trails through open farmland.

From 50-mile multi-night backpacking trips to strenuous 10-mile day hikes to short 1-mile loops perfect for children, hiking in Washington State has a little of everything.

Because the state is so large, we’ve broken down our top Washington hiking trails into several categories, based on the nearest city, national park, geographic area, and other markers.

But, remember, these hikes are just the tip of the iceberg. Check out Washington Trails Association for even more of the best hiking in Washington.

Here are 33+ of the best hikes in Washington State.

Navigation Guide

  1. Near Bellingham
  2. North Cascades National Park
  3. Central Cascades
  4. Near Seattle
  5. Mount Rainier National Park
  6. Near Olympia
  7. Olympic National Park
  8. San Juan Islands
  9. Near Spokane
  10. Eastern Washington
  11. Southern Washington
  12. Backpacking
  13. When to Hike
  14. Gear You’ll Need
  15. Additional Tips

Best Hikes Near Bellingham

Bellingham, the last major city on I-5 before the Canadian border, is well known for its picturesque setting and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation.

And the hiking trails are plentiful. These include the close-to-home, like the 6.2-mile round-trip Lake Whatcom Trail or 5.5-mile round-trip Fragrance Lake, as well dozens of hikes near Mount Baker, such as the ever-popular Artist Point (roughly an hour and a half away). Needless to say, Bellingham is one of the best places for hiking in Washington.

Here are three of the best hikes near Bellingham.

1. Oyster Dome

Length: 5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Oyster Dome is one of the most popular hikes in Bellingham thanks to its incredible views.

Start the 5-mile roundtrip hike at the Chuckanut Drive trailhead or drive up the backside of Blanchard Mountain to start from the Samish Overlook trailhead. Either way, you’re in for an incredible hike that ends with clifftop views of the San Juan Islands.

Learn more about hiking Oyster Dome.

2. Winchester Mountain

Length: 3.4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Although this northwest Washington hike is short and sweet, the views from the top of Winchester Mountain are hard to beat.

It takes less than 2 miles of hiking and 1,300 feet in elevation gain to reach the 6,500 summit of Winchester Mountain. The most difficult part is reaching the trailhead itself. The road in is extremely rough and requires a high-clearance vehicle. Turn this hike into an overnight trip by camping at Twin Lakes – or even spending the night in the historic fire lookout tower.

Learn more about hiking Winchester Mountain.

3. Chain Lakes Loop

Length: 8 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Chain Lakes Loop is perhaps the quintessential Mount Baker hike.

Notable as one of the most scenic hikes in Washington, this 8-mile roundtrip hike boasts breathtaking views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and other North Cascades mountain peaks. Head out in early summer to see the wildflowers or in early fall to see the wild blueberries. The hike starts at the popular Artist Point Trailhead.

Learn more about hiking Chain Lakes Loop.

Best Hikes in North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park is home to some of the best hiking in Washington.

Located in the Cascade Mountains in the northern part of the state, North Cascades boasts brilliantly blue-green alpine lakes, soaring glacier-capped granite mountains, and thick old-growth forests. Hiking trails range from the short and sweet to difficult multi-night expeditions.

Here are three of the best hikes in North Cascades National Park.

1. Trail of the Cedars

Length: 1 Mile

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Explore the giant old growth trees of North Cascades National Park by hiking the Trail of the Cedars.

This easy 1-mile roundtrip hike meanders through an ancient section of forest just outside the town of Newhalem. A suspension bridge crosses the Skagit River and brings you to the still operating Newhalem Powerhouse.

Learn more about hiking Trail of the Cedars.

2. Diablo Lake Trail

Length: 7.6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: None

Another one of the best hikes in Washington located in the North Cascades, Diablo Lake Trail is very popular with those camping in the national park.

This trail is most notable for its stunning views of the brilliantly blue Ross Lake and Diablo Lake, although it passes several equally beautiful waterfalls along the way. The endpoint is a particularly good spot for a picnic lunch as you enjoy the surrounding mountain peaks.

Learn more about hiking Diablo Lake Trail.

3. Cascade Pass

Length: 7 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: None

Cascade Pass provides a good taste of what the best hiking in Washington has to offer.

This 7-mile roundtrip hike starts in the shadow of a towering mountain in a verdant old growth forest. After a long series of switchbacks and crossing a boulder field, the trail opens up into the final pass, a deep valley with miles of colorful meadows and one of the greatest concentrations of glaciers in the contiguous United States.

Learn more about hiking Cascade Pass.

Best Hikes in the Central Cascades

Just south of North Cascades National Park, the Central Cascades are a Washington State hiking paradise.

Most hikes in this region are accessed via Highway 2. There is an extensive selection of hiking trails on both sides of the mountains, including excellent day hikes and overnight trips near Stevens Pass as well as Leavenworth.

Here are three of the best hikes in the Central Cascades.

1. Bridal Veil Falls

Length: 4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

This mellow Washington hike ends with an impressive view of the titular Bridal Veil Falls.

The hike starts on a wide abandoned road through a thick forest before narrowing down into your typical hiking trail. Cross several small streams before crossing a bridge that ends at the lower falls. We strongly recommend continuing along the trail, braving several sets of stairways, to reach the upper falls.

Learn more about hiking Bridal Veil Falls.

2. Lake 22

Length: 5.4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Hiking near Seattle in the Central Cascades doesn’t get much better than Lake 22.

Located near the popular 5.4-mile roundtrip Mount Pilchuck, this equally popular hike is also 5.4 miles roundtrip. It weaves past old growth trees, through temperate rain forest, and ends near an alpine lake with mountain views. The trail circles the lake before heading back down the same way you came up.

Learn more about hiking Lake 22.

3. Colchuck Lake

Length: 8 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Hard

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Colchuck Lake is one of the best hikes in Washington for those that want the full alpine experience.

Located near the town of Leavenworth, this 8-mile alpine hike is something of a rite of passage for serious Washington hikers. Over 4 miles you gain roughly 2,300 feet, most of which is fairly mellow until a steep final ascent. But this last burst of effort is worth it as you round the final corner to see crystal clear Colchuck Lake surrounded by soaring granite mountain walls. 

Learn more about hiking Colchuck Lake.

Best Hikes Near Seattle

Seattle is the largest city in Washington State – but that doesn’t diminish the ample hiking opportunities.

In addition to several popular walking trails within the city itself, including the quintessential 2.8-mile roundtrip Green Lake loop, dozens of top-notch Washington hikes are less than an hour drive away.

*Check out our roundup of 21+ of the best hikes in Seattle for more Seattle hiking recommendations.

Here are three of the best hikes near Seattle.

1. Discovery Park

Length: 2.8 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Discovery Park is undeniably the best place for hiking in Seattle.

Located in the Magnolia neighborhood, this is the city’s largest park. It contains several hiking trails, the most popular of which is the 2.8-mile roundtrip Discovery Park Loop Trail. This peaceful hike loops through forest and meadows passing by several Puget Sound viewpoints.

Learn more about hiking Discovery Park Loop Trail.

2. Mount Si

Length: 8 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Mount Si is not only one of the best hikes near Seattle, it’s one of the best hikes in Washington State.

The incredibly popular hike is located east of Seattle just off I-90. More than 100,000 people hike the trail each year. And the reason for Mount Si’s popularity is simple – it’s a rugged and beautiful hike that’s also extremely accessible. Although it gains over 3,000 feet in 4 miles, the strenuous trail is perfect for novices looking to take their hiking prowess to the next level.

Learn more about hiking Mount Si.

3. Rattlesnake Ledge

Length: 4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: None

Rattlesnake Ledge is another hike near Seattle that you don’t want to miss.

Less than an hour east of Seattle via I-90, Rattlesnake Ledge is the perfect Washington hike for beginners, intermediates, and experts alike. It boasts excellent views of Rattlesnake Lake below for almost the entirety of the trail. Those that prefer a longer hike can continue on to East Peak (about 8.4-miles roundtrip from the trailhead).

Learn more about hiking Rattlesnake Ledge.

Best Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park

Hiking in Mount Rainier National Park is second to none.

The park contains many of the best hikes in Washington, including the 93-mile roundtrip Wonderland Trail, perfect for those that want a serious Washington backpacking adventure. While many Mount Rainier hikes boast breathtaking views of the titular mountains, others wind their way through the park’s peaceful and remote forested valleys.

Here are three of the best hikes in Mount Rainier National Park.

1. Grove of the Patriarchs Loop

Length: 1.5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Mount Rainier Entrance Fee

The Grove of the Patriarchs Loop is an excellent Mount Rainier hike for all ages.

The short, mostly flat loop meanders across the Ohanapecosh River via a suspension bridge to a small island. The island is filled with old-growth trees, including massive cedars over 300 feet tall.  

Learn more about hiking Grove of the Patriarchs Loop.

2. Skyline Loop Trail

Length: 5.5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Mount Rainier Entrance Fee

The Skyline Loop Trail is one of the best hikes in Washington for exploring Mount Rainier National Park.

The hike starts in the Paradise area of the park, near the historic Paradise Inn, before passing through colorful wildflower meadows and cascading waterfalls. Grand views of Mount Rainier are available from nearly everywhere along the trail. You might even find yourself hiking alongside mountaineers on their way to Camp Muir to make the grueling climb up the mountain.

Learn more about hiking Skyline Loop Trail.

3. Tolmie Peak Lookout

Length: 7.5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Fees/Passes: Mount Rainier Entrance Fee

Located in the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park, Tolmie Peak Lookout is a classic Washington fire lookout hike.

The 7.5-mile roundtrip hike climbs gently from the Mowich Campground out of the lowland forest before climbing more steeply towards Eunice Lake. Although many hikers stop at Eunice Lake, pushing on a mile further to Tolmie Peak is more than worth it. Not only can you explore the historic fire lookout tower, but the views of Mount Rainier with Eunice Lake below are phenomenal.

Learn more about hiking Tolmie Peak Lookout.

Best Hikes Near Olympia

Most notable as the capital of Washington State, Olympia is also an excellent destination for Washington hiking.

Thanks to its location in the Puget Lowlands, near the southernmost reaches of Puget Sound, most Olympia hikes are far less mountainous than many of the other best hikes in Washington – but they explore equally as beautiful scenery.  

Here are three of the best hikes near Olympia.

1. Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge

Length: 5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Refuge Entrance Pass

Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to go hiking near Olympia.

Located roughly halfway between Tacoma and Olympia, the flat and easy trail meanders through the Nisqually River Delta. It starts off in a wetland area, passing by a historic barn, before opening up onto an expansive boardwalk. Hikers often see eagles, owls, and shorebirds – so bring binoculars.

Learn more about hiking Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge.

2. Priest Point Park

Length: 5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Another relaxing Washington hike near Olympia, Priest Point Park is notable for its up close and personal views of Puget Sound.

The 5-mile roundtrip trail is an excellent way to see the entire park and get some exercise in the process. But there are plenty of offshoots from the main loop as well as beaches to explore. Just as many people come to play on the beach or have a picnic as complete the entire hike.

Learn more about hiking Priest Point Park.

3. Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve

Length: 9 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

The Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve has dozens of hiking trails to explore.

Two main parking areas serve as trailheads for the zigzagging network of trails. Many people visit this natural area to wander – rather than set off on one specific hike. Some trails cross open meadows while others follow the creek through the forest. The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail is perhaps the most popular signed trail in the preserve.

Learn more about hiking Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve.

Best Hikes in Olympic National Park

For some of the best hiking in Washington, head to the Olympic Peninsula to explore Olympic National Park.

Home to three distinct ecosystems (temperate forest, glaciated mountains, and rugged coastline), this national park is home to an equally diverse assortment of hikes. Trek to the top of a mountain peak, wander a stretch of sandy beach, or weave among ancient old growth forest – it’s up to you.

Here are three of the best hikes in Olympic National Park.

1. Ruby Beach

Length: 6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Explore the coast of Olympic Peninsula with a hike at Ruby Beach.

Notable for its towering tree-dotted sea stacks and massive amount of driftwood, it’s just a short hike down an often-muddy trail to the beach. From here serious explorers can hike up to 6 miles roundtrip along the beach, depending on the tides. Take care while walking the beach to time the tides correctly. Several small stream crossings are required which will get your feet wet.

Learn more about hiking Ruby Beach.

2. Hurricane Hill Trail

Length: 3.2 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Olympic National Park Entrance Fee

Hurricane Hill is arguably the most popular hike in Olympic National Park.

The mellow 3.2-mile roundtrip hike is perfect for families with children. It starts in a thin forest before heading up a serious of switchbacks. The hard work pays off when you reach the summit which boasts stellar views of the Elwha River Valley, dozens of surrounding peaks, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the distance. The Hurricane Ridge area is also a popular destination for snowshoeing in the winter.  

Learn more about hiking Hurricane Hill Trail.

3. Mount Ellinor

Length: 6.2 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Mount Ellinor is one of the best hikes in Washington for soaring mountain views.

Located on the eastern side of the Olympic Mountains, this Olympic National Park hike climbs a steep trail complete with switchbacks and stairs. A choice of two starting points merge before the last strenuous climb which ends with panoramic views of seemingly endless glacier-capped mountains. Chances are you’ll see mountain goats on this hike.

Learn more about hiking Mount Ellinor.

Best Hikes in San Juan Islands

An archipelago in the northwest corner of Washington, the San Juan Islands have their fair share of the best hikes in Washington.

Although excellent hikes are available on almost every island, the best of the best are located on the four islands served by the Washington State Ferries. That said, many of the smaller islands also have great hiking for those willing to take a private boat for the trip out. Then there’s two smaller county ferries that serve Lummi Island (3.2-mile roundtrip Baker Preserve) and Guemes Island (2.4-mile roundtrip Guemes Mountain).

Here are three of the best hikes in the San Juan Islands.

1. Mount Constitution

Length: 6.7 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Hike Mount Constitution to enjoy the view from the highest point in the San Juan Islands.

At 2,409 feet above sea level, the top of Mount Constitution offers sweeping views of the San Juan Islands as well as Mount Baker and Mount Rainier in the distance. This Orcas Island hike is roughly 6.7 miles roundtrip, although the exact mileage varies depending on whether you do an in-and-back or roundtrip loop hike.

Learn more about hiking Mount Constitution.

2. Young Hill

Length: 2.2 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Young Hill is an easy hike with big views. It’s a popular place to enjoy the sunset.

Located on the northwest side of San Juan Island, Young Hill is known for its sweeping water views as well as its abundance of wildflowers in spring. The historical cemetery near the trailhead is also worth exploring.

Learn more about hiking Young Hill.

3. Mountain Lake

Length: 3.9 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Mountain Lake is yet another enjoyable hike in Washington for those exploring the San Juan Islands.

Also located on Orcas Island, this relaxing 3.9-mile loop hike circles Mountain Lake in Moran State Park. It’s an excellent way to get a little exercise and is also a hotspot for birding. The hike has minimal elevation gain, making it a great choice for a family hike in Washington.

Learn more about hiking Mountain Lake.

Best Hikes Near Spokane

Spokane, the second largest city in Washington State, is an excellent jumping off point for hiking in Eastern Washington.

In addition to several hiking trails and walking paths in Spokane, the area immediately outside of the city is ripe with opportunities for outdoor recreation. Drive less than an hour for a wide array of the best hikes in Washington for all skill levels.

Here are three of the best hikes near Spokane.

1. Bowl & Pitcher

Length: 2.1 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Hiking near Spokane doesn’t get much better than the Bowl & Pitcher in Riverside State Park.

Notable for the swinging bridge across the Spokane River, this easy hiking trail follows the meandering river. In addition to a close up look at the many rocky outcroppings, this trail provides expansive views of the surrounding area. The nearby Bowl & Pitcher Campground is one of the best places to go camping in Spokane.

Learn more about hiking Bowl & Pitcher.

2. Liberty Lake Loop Trail

Length: 8.5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: $2 Parking Fee

Liberty Lake Loop Trail is one of the best hikes in Washington near Spokane.

The 8.5-mile roundtrip loop trail circles the beautiful Liberty Lake. About 2.5 miles into the hike is a gorgeous waterfall. Many people turn around here for a shorter 5-mile roundtrip hike. This first section of the trail is wide and well-maintained – perfect for casual walkers, while the remainder of the trail is more of your standard narrow and rocky hiking trail.

Learn more about hiking Liberty Lake Loop Trail.

3. Iller Creek

Length: 5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: None

Iller Creek is a highly rated Spokane hike in the Dishman Hills Conservation Area.

The 5-mile roundtrip hike meanders through a shady forest, alongside a burbling creek, and through colorful wildflower meadows (in bloom throughout Spring). Expansive views of Spokane Valley are available for most of the trail. About midway through the hike are the Rocks of Sharon, one of the best locations for rock climbing in Eastern Washington.

Learn more about hiking Iller Creek.

Best Hikes in Eastern Washington

Many people associate hiking in Washington with the western side of the state and the Cascade Mountains, but Eastern Washington has plenty of its own hiking opportunities.

Spanning the entire eastern side of the state, much of Eastern Washington is made up of the Columbia Plateau, a shrub-steppe environment with a semi-arid climate. Although much of the area is stark, dry, and empty, this unique landscape is home to some of the best hikes in Washington for those that prefer a less crowded hiking experience.

Here are three of the best hikes in Eastern Washington.

1. Umtanum Creek Canyon

Length: 6.5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: $5 Parking Fee

One of the best hikes in Washington State, Umtanum Creek Canyon is located roughly halfway between Ellensburg and Yakima.

Known for its towering basalt rock formations, this 6.5-mile roundtrip hike starts by the Yakima River via a swinging bridge. Continue along the trail into the titular canyon. A boulder field and several easy stream crossings come next. This hike is notable for the colorful wildflowers in spring and a high chance of seeing bighorn sheep.

Learn more about hiking Umtanum Creek Canyon.

2. Palouse Falls

Length: 1 Mile Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Palouse Falls is a short, family-friendly hike in Eastern Washington.

Despite the short length, this hike is one of the best hikes in Washington, thanks to the iconic Palouse Falls serving as its destination. The official waterfall of the state, it stands at just under 200 feet tall. Remember to stay on marked trails and refrain from taking any of the many (potentially unsafe) unmarked trails. Many hikers camp at the popular campground that’s also part of Palouse Falls State Park.

Learn more about hiking Palouse Falls.

3. Quartzite Mountain

Length: 3 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Make the short trek up Quartzite Mountain to admire the wide-open views of the valley below.

This short 3-mile roundtrip hike is a great day hike, although a handful of steep sections make it difficult for young children. Although the hike up can be strenuous, that effort is well worth it as you’re greeted with sweeping views from the peak. In summertime, Quartzite Mountain is nearly overflowing with wild strawberries along the trail.

Learn more about hiking Quartzite Mountain.

Best Hikes in Southern Washington

Head south of Olympia to explore some of the best hikes in Washington located in the southernmost part of the state.

There’s no exact definition for what constitutes southern Washington. Most people consider it as anything south of Olympia and west of the Cascade Mountains. We’ve expanded the region to include the southeast as well, especially hikes along the Columbia River Gorge.

Here are three of the best hikes in Southern Washington.

1. Ape Caves

Length: 2.8 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

For a completely unique Washington hiking experience, check out the Ape Caves, just south of Mount Saint Helens, famous for its 1980 volcanic eruption.

The Ape Caves boast an equally interesting tale of Washington’s tumultuous geologic past. The 2.8-mile roundtrip hike starts inside a spacious lava tube, moves into a narrower lava tube, and then finishes with an easy hike through the forest. Remember to bring multiple light sources, spare batteries, and a sweater – cave temperatures hover around 42°F. Make sure to read up on restrictions (such as no touching the walls) before entering the cave.

Learn more about hiking Ape Caves.

2. Dog Mountain

Length: 6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Dog Mountain is one of the best Washington hikes in the Columbia River Gorge.

The 6-mile roundtrip hike is perhaps most notable for its springtime flowers (although reservable hiking permits are required from March 31st to July 1st to protect the fragile plant life). The majority of the hike is steep with several difficult uphill climbs. A multitude of viewpoints make the effort worthwhile with views of the Columbia River below – and, on clear days, you can see all the way to Mount Hood in Oregon.

Learn more about hiking Dog Mountain.

3. Klickitat Rail Trail

Length: 31 Miles One-Way

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

The Klickitat Rail Trail follows an old railroad line for 31 miles (one-way) from the town of Lyle to the town of Warwick.

Multiple access points break the trail down into smaller, more manageable sections. Perhaps the best of these is the scenic 10.5-mile Klickitat River stretch between Lyle and the hamlet of Pitt (bring two cars for a fantastic one-way day hike). Open meadows (filled with wildflowers in spring), views of the Klickitat River, several small ponds, and scattered railroad artifacts are notable highlights. The entire trail is also open to bicyclists and equestrians.

Learn more about hiking Klickitat Rail Trail.

Backpacking in Washington State

There are a number of great overnight backpacking destinations in Washington.

Chief among these are the Shi-Shi Beach to Ozette River Trail, the Wonderland Trail, and the Enchantments.

The Shi-Shi Beach to Ozette River Trail covers roughly 17.6 miles one-way (bring two cars). Most backpackers spend one to two nights on this beautiful Washington backpacking trail that follows one of the most rugged stretches of the Washington coast.

The Wonderland Trail is one of Washington’s most popular backpacking trails. At 93 miles roundtrip, it circles the entirety of Mount Rainier. With 18 designated backcountry campsites, there are any number of ways to plan your Wonderland Trail backpacking trip.

The Enchantments are widely regarded as one of the most spectacular areas to go hiking in Washington. The main trail is 18-miles one-way. Most backpackers spend several days hiking in and back. The hike wanders through the North Cascades, passing pristine alpine lakes and mountain goats galore.

The Washington Trail Association has an additional list of some of the best destinations for backpacking in Washington

When to Hike in Washington

The best time of year to hike in Washington depends on the region you’re hiking in.

Most lowland areas, including popular hikes near Bellingham and Seattle, are open to hikers year-round.

However, the majority of the best hikes in Washington described above are in more mountainous regions of the state. Many of these are closed during the winter months due to large amounts of snowfall and otherwise bad weather.

The best time to go hiking in Washington, especially if you’re headed for the Cascade Mountains, is from roughly mid-July to mid-October.

* Many of the best Washington hiking trails are open for snowshoeing in the winter.

Hiking Gear You’ll Need

Hiking in Washington requires the right hiking gear to fully appreciate the hike.

The most important piece of hiking equipment is quality hiking shoes or boots. Not only must these fit well and be designed for the style of hiking you’re doing, but they should also be broken in.

Many of the best Washington hikes, especially those in the Cascade Mountains, are known for their rutted and rocky terrain. Your feet will thank you for bringing a quality pair of broken-in hiking boots.

Thanks to Washington State’s rainy weather, most hikers opt for a pair of hiking boots or shoes that are waterproof but still breathable.

Other essential gear for hiking in Washington includes a waterproof daypack, a waterproof rain jacket, and the ten essentials. Always bring enough food and water.

Remember that the weather in Washington is often finicky. Even in the summer, weather conditions can change rapidly with substantial shifts in temperature as well as the ever-present possibility of rain.

Additional Washington Hiking Tips

Hiking in Washington State often requires a pass or permit.

The two most common are the Discover Pass for hiking on state land and Northwest Forest Pass for hiking on federal land.

Hiking in Mount Rainier, North Cascades, or Olympic National Park requires a national park pass. Either pay the weekly rate or invest in an annual pass, such as the America the Beautiful Pass, which allow for entry into all national parks and federal recreational lands for one year.

We’ve listed which permit or pass, if any, is needed for the 33+ best hikes in Washington described above.

Visit the Washington Trails Association for more information regarding Washington hiking passes – most notably, the “What Pass Do I Need?” FAQ page.

Note that backpacking and overnight camping in backcountry areas often requires additional permits and passes, especially in national parks.

In addition to hiking, there are dozens upon dozens of great places to go camping in Washington. Many hikers stay the night at one of these best Washington campgrounds before or after their hike.

You can even rent an RV or camper to make your family camping and hiking trip even more special. Our list of the best RV rentals in Seattle will help you choose the perfect rig.

And, finally, not everyone has a go-to hiking partner. Check out Meetups.com to find hiking partners and hiking groups in Washington, including other hikers that want to go hiking with their dogs.

Washington Trail Association’s hiking groups resource is also invaluable for finding likeminded hikers in your geographic region.

Plan Your Washington Hiking Trip

Few outdoor activities are better than hiking in Washington.

The 33+ best hikes described above are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Washington hiking opportunities. Check out Washington Trails Association for more of the best Washington hikes. 

And don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information on hiking in Washington.

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