Best Northwest Hikes and Walks

Find serenity, soaring views—and a sweet workout—on these 20 spectacular trails.
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A sweeping glacial vista on a bluebird afternoon…an ancient rain forest, trees dripping with moss…the fecund scent of a deep mountain meadow…come July, our hearts yearn for the sweet sylvan dream that is Northwest hiking. Like nowhere else in the world, here, a short drive and an adventurous spirit are all it takes to transport you to a place of incomparable beauty. Whether you seek a hard-fought climb to rarified air or a simple, in-city stroll amongst towering old-growth trees, there’s a hike or walk here to suit your mood, energy level and time. So strike out on the path of your choosing; you’ll find serenity, soaring views—and a sweet workout—on these 20 spectacular trails. Just click through the following links to find wonderful hikes for all skill levels. First, just pick your favorite brand of natural beauty:

Beautiful Views
Featuring Mount Constitution, Elliott Bay Trail and Second Beach

Old Growth
Featuring the Grove of the Patriarchs, Hall of Mosses and Seward Park 

Wildflowers
Featuring Sourdough Ridge Trail and Winds of Change Trail.

Color show
Featuring Heather Meadows, Washington Park Arboretum and Lake Ingalls

Waterfalls
Featuring Twin Falls, Franklin Falls and Silver Falls

Wildlife
Featuring Golden Gate Trail, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and Juanita Bay Park 

Alpine Lakes
Featuring Lake Serene, Rainy Lake and Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap

 

Before you go...

Download maps, field and trail guides and more:

nps.gov The National Park Service provides information about hikes in National Parks.

fws.gov The US Fish and Wildlife Service provides more on hikes through federally managed land.

wta.org The nonprofit hiking club, Washington Trails Association, offers trip reports, trail summaries and more on its excellent website; members receive a bi-monthly magazine.

Trail Passes
Cars parked at many trailheads require one of these three passes. Always check before you go; skipping the pass can result in a ticket.

Discover Pass: Needed for all state-run trails, including state parks and DNR lands. $10/day or $30/year plus handling fees; purchase in advance; discoverpass.wa.gov

National Parks Pass: Needed for access to Mount Rainier and other National Parks; $30/year or $15/carload for a 7-day pass; sold at park entrances.

Northwest Forest Pass: Needed for NWFS trailheads. Day pass, $5; annual pass, $30; purchase in advance; fs.fed.us/passespermits/

Dogs
Prohibited on all National Parks trails, except on the Pacific Crest Trail (see Sheep Lake). On state-run lands and in-city trails, dogs must be on a leash at all times.

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

An intimate affair for wine lovers who get their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude
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A flight of wine awaiting tasting at one of the educational panels

If you love good wine—really good wine—you’ll want to put Northwest Wine Encounter on your radar.

Haven’t heard of it before? That’s not surprising. The inaugural event, which I attended last spring, was an intimate affair with space for just a few dozen wine lovers who got their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude on winemaking, learning about these during educational panels led by some of the region’s finest winemakers. And, of course, it helped to taste through flights of really fine wine as the winemakers offered insights and perspective.

The return engagement, on the weekend of April 28-30 (from $485/person including lodging, events and gala dinner), will follow a similar format and will once again be held at Semiahmoo Resort, a lovely spot overlooking Semiahmoo Bay, with the U.S./Canadian border and Peace Arch in view across the water. This year, there will be room for around 100 wine lovers (sign up for Northwest Wine Encounter here).


Winemakers and guests enjoying Friday night’s bonfire at Semiahmoo 

This quintessential Northwest location was chosen to complement the local wines that are the focus of the weekend. At Semiahmoo, Mount Baker frames the view in one direction, the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound in another. At one time in its history, Semiahmoo was also the site of a salmon cannery. Hard to get more Northwest than that.

The 2017 winemaker lineup includes a few superstars from Oregon and Washington: Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, Walla Walla’s oldest winery; David Merfeld of Northstar Winery, Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars; Tony Rynders of Panther Creek and wine grower Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyards. New this year is the addition of a British Columbia winemaker, Walter Gehriner of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery.

 

At last year’s events, the panel discussions were interesting, but the Friday night kick-off event was almost worth the price of admission alone. It had the air of an informal party where everyone was enjoying each other’s company. All the winemakers were in attendance, pouring and chatting about what they love most: making wine. The party eventually spilled out onto the beach where a bonfire warmed the crowd. Marshmallows optional, wine required.