Travel

Best Northwest Hikes and Walks

Find serenity, soaring views—and a sweet workout—on these 20 spectacular trails.

By Kristen Russell & Roddy Scheer June 20, 2014

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This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Seattle magazine.

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.

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