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Half a Day or Farther Away: 11 Hikes for Summer

From shaded trails enshrouded in moss-covered trees to vast, rolling hills to rugged, ice-capped mountains, trails are everywhere. The kind of public lands that host these trails vary just as much as the landscapes themselves. Some of your favorite backyard hikes are on city and county lands, but some of those epic trips are served up on federal lands like national forests and parks.

Washington state is a hiker's paradise. From shaded trails enshrouded in moss-covered trees to vast, rolling hills to rugged, ice-capped mountains, trails are everywhere. The kind of public lands that host these trails vary just as much as the landscapes themselves. Some of your favorite backyard hikes are on city and county lands, but some of those epic trips are served up on federal lands like national forests and parks.

Below you'll find just a sampling of some terrific hikes that you can work into a busy weekend, or destinations worth making time for. 


North Cascades 

Home to Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and the North Cascades National Park, this region of Washington offers many trails hugged by evergreen forests on federal or local lands.

Anderson Butte 

Location: North Cascades Highway -- Hwy 20
Length: 
3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
Land Manager: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest 

Views from the Hummocks Trail
A view of Mount Shuksan from the Anderson Butte Trail. Photo by Elizabeth Watson.

Don't let the short distance fool you--this trail ends with a steep (and rewarding) hike. Wander through meadows, forests and boggy patches to end up at the top of the valley with a view of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan and Anderson Butte. 

>> Read more about Anderson Butte


Swift Creek 

Location: Mount Baker Area 
Length:
 16 miles, roundtrip
Land Manager: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest 

Swift Creek Trail
Be cautious of higher water levels in the creek earlier in the hiking season. Photo by rolando.

Looking for an intense adventure? This hike will take you across bridge-less streams, steep slopes and require some navigation through dense foliage. This old-growth route will connect you to the Lake Ann Trail at the 8 mile mark. 

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Puget Sound and Islands

In between Olympic National Park and Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, this more urbanized region is well within reach of some astounding recreation options. While many hikes in this region are popular, there are still opportunities to explore trails with little foot traffic. 

Mount Finlayson

Location: San Juan Islands 
Length:
 3.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 350 feet
Land Manager: San Juan Island National Historical Park

view from Cattle Point
A spectacular view from Cattle Point, on Mount Finlayson. Photo by Sean P.

The views from this trail will leave you in awe. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and take in the scenery of San Juan Island. From Mount Finlayson's summit, you can see the other islands speckled nearby, Whidbey Island in the distance and the Olympics in the background.  

> Plan our visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Clark's Creek Park Loop

Location: Puyallup
Length:
 5.5 miles, roundtrip
Land Manager: City - City of Puyallup 

Clark's Creek by Hiking Nerds.jpegSwings along the trail. Photo by Hiking Nerds.

A trail doesn't have to be in the wilderness to be a hike. If you're looking for a serene getaway within city's reach, check out the Clark's Creek Park Loop. The loop winds through six city parks, giving you a nice mix of urban and scenic sights. 

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Cascade Trail

Location: Bellingham Area
Length:
 45 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 60 ft.
Land Manager: County -- Skagit County Parks and Recreation

Cascade Trail
A riverbank on the Skagit River. Photo by Surviving Urban.

A gentle and extensive hike, the Cascade Trail will take you along the Skagit River and through the rural farmlands of Skagit Valley. Follow the trail up north, and immerse yourself among the plentiful wildlife and scenic viewpoints.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Southwest Washington & Olympics

This region hugs the Pacific, where the Columbia River empties into the sea. Although it is an area known for miles of sandy beach, there are some great wilderness hikes a bit farther inland as well. 

Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer

Location: Long Beach Area
Length:
 5.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
Land Manager: Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife Refuge
Rustic colors line the northern part of the trail. Photo by Anna Roth.

This trail will give you a good mix of both the river bank and the beach. Winding alongside the Columbia River, this trail takes you through the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge, named after the first woman on the Cathlamet City Council who had a passion for protecting wildlife.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Wynoochee Lake 

Length: Olympic Peninsula -- Olympia
Length:
 12 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1100 ft.
Land Manager: Olympic National Forest

Smooth Wynoochee Lake
A calm, mirror-image of the mountains. Photo by austin.

While this trail is actually quite a bit north of the Southern Coast, if you're looking for a longer, quiet hike, it is well worth the trip. With the option to either ford the Wynoochee River or end at Maidenhair Falls, this trail offers an array of summer flowers around a calm lake. 

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Central Cascades

With a combination of the mountainous terrain of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the gentle lowlands surrounding the Columbia River, the center of the state has a multitude of hiking opportunities on a variety of land types.

Lake Ethel

Location: Stevens Pass - East
Length:
9.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3500 ft.
Land manager: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest


Lake Ethel trail in early summer. Photo by Martin Bravenboer.

If you're looking for a challenge in the Central Cascades, the trail to Lake Ethel is your bet. It climbs up, up, up into the lovely Scottish Lakes area and Lake Ethel. Have a picnic and head home, or scope a map for a longer trip. Either way, go prepared for anything when it comes to trail conditions. 

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Crescent Lake 

Location: Stevens Pass - East
Length:
 12 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3732 ft.
Land Manager: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest 

Crescent Lake
Rugged rocks crown Crescent Lake. Photo by Shadowdad.

This hike will give you seclusion and a serious workout. Begin the first two miles of the trail with a steep ascend--1600 feet. Traversing through steep ridges and lush meadows, this trail ends up at the beautiful Crescent Lake.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Eastern Washington

The expansive Colville National Forest is an obvious home to some magnificent hiking opportunities, but there are some local, more urban trails to explore around Spokane. 

Slavin Pond Loop 

Location: Spokane Area
Length:
 3.3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 246 feet
Land Manager: Spokane County Parks

Slavin Pond
Lush green and gold around Slavin Pond. Photo by The Happy Wanderer.

Birdwatchers behold: a pond surrounded in a golden ring of marshland and a spot with over 120 species of bird. Slavin Pond is not limited to bird lovers— more than 3 miles of trail will take you through ponderosa pine forests and lively fields.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Midnight Mountain 

Location: Okanogan Highlands/Kettle River Range
Length:
 10.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2250 feet
Land Manager: Colville National Forest 

P9262051.JPG
Views on nearby Copper Butte in the Okanogan Highlands. Photo by austineats.

This trail offers not only Eastern Washington wilderness, but some of the region's history as well. Hiking along the trail, notice the remnants of past wildfires and a historic wagon road. This long route takes you through hillsides, meadows and forests, and provides rugged mountain views.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Southeast Washington

Unlike the mountains in other regions of Washington, this corner of the state has gentle, rolling hills with low shrubs and unobstructed views. These trails don't require thousands of feet in elevation for a breathtaking view.

Badger Mountain - Skyline Loop

Location: Tri-Cities
Length:
3.25 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1195 feet
Land Manager: Benton County Reserves

Badger Mountain
A view of the vast lowlands. Photo by Girl and Dog.

The top of this mountain features a 360 degree view of the Tri-Cities, surrounding hills and distant mountains. Walking along the the Skyline Loop, you may not notice the elevation gain, however, you will certainly notice the wildflowers, sagebrush, and landmarks from the great Missoula Floods.

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide


Smooth Ridge  

Location: Palouse and Blue Mountains
Length:
 9.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2540 ft.
Land Manager: Umatilla National Forest 

Sunset.jpg
Views of the Wenaha-Tucannon region. Photo by markweth

This hike will plant you into the heart of the Wenaha-Tucannon wilderness. A fully scenic trail, Smooth Ridge also supplies your long hike with some of the freshest water from the Oregon Butte Spring. 

> Plan your visit using WTA's Hiking Guide