5 Hikes that Define Washington

There is nothing quite like summer in the Pacific Northwest. Add these easy Washington hikes to the top of your to-do list and start exploring your own backyard!

Staircase Rapids in Olympic National Park

Follow the stunning Lake Cushman along its north shore to discover handfuls of trailheads that will take you to the heart of the Eastern Olympics. Staircase Rapids Trail is a very short loop that leads you through lush forests along the North Fork Skokomish River, offering several places to step off trail and soak your feet in its glacier blue waters. If adventure still calls, check out the demanding Mt. Rose trail, among others, or explore Cushman’s many day-use areas.

Cape Alava Loop on the Pacific Coast

The Cape Alava Loop, also known as the Ozette Triangle, showcases the best of Washington’s coast. Here you will find old boardwalks that wander through towering old growth forests, and then finally open up to the stony shores of the Pacific Ocean below. Wild life abounds as eagles, sea lions, otters and even black bears call this dynamic coast their home. Be sure to check the tides while planning your trip.

Lava Canyon in Gifford-Pinchot National Forest

The Muddy River that flows through Lava Canyon is anything but. These crystal blue waters etch their way into what was once a molten lava field courtesy of Mt. St. Helens. The trail begins as a paved ADA-accessible path that ends at a waterfall viewpoint, then increases in difficulty as it descends into the canyon below. Check out the nearby Trail of Two Forests, as well as Ape Caves, for even more fascinating volcanic geology.

Ancient Lakes in Central Washington

Located just east of the Columbia River Gorge, Ancient Lakes and its surrounding lakes are nestled below columns of basalt cliffs, offering a myriad of multi-use trails and recreational fishing opportunities. This desert area is very exposed, so bring appropriate protection. Explore nearby Dusty Lake, discover waterfalls around every turn, and be sure to stop for a wine tasting at one of the many wineries on your way back home. 

Packwood Lake in Goat Rocks Wilderness

Packwood Lake has a little bit of everything that the Pacific Northwest is best known for: mossy forests, a clear blue lake, bubbling creeks and peaks that peer from above. Plus, it’s dog friendly! What more could you ask for? Take the short loop around Packwood Lake to find camping, fishing and swimming opportunities for all. Don’t forget the bug spray!

DELANEY DVORAK