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21 Loop Hikes You Can Do in a Day

Everyone loves a loop hike—each new step leads to you to a new view, meadow, or forest. Luckily, Washington is brimming with loops to explore and we've compiled our favorites here

Loop hikes are so enticing because you get a full day of hiking without going over the same ground twice. In contrast to an out-and-back trail, a loop can access double the scenery in the same amount of time. Maximize the variety of a trusty route by returning to hike it in a different direction. Views and landmarks will appear at different times than you're used to. It doesn't have to be a perfect circle either. Consider hikes of all shapes, like figure eights, lollipops, or even abstract polygons. Check out these 21 options to get started. 

TIPS FOR SUMMER HIKing

  • Want good views? In each hiking guide entry there is a link to the left of the Driving Directions that will show you the weather forecast for that specific area. 
  • Brush up on basics. Be prepared and carry the 10 essentials with you on every hike.

Mount Rainier

Glacier Basin Loop

Location: Sunrise/White River Area
Mileage: 11.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3100 feet

Glacier Basin by jeffr.jpeg
On the way to the Basin. Photo by Jeffr.

The Glacier Basin trail is great on it's own—but why stop there? Hook up with the Burroughs Mountain trail to get the most out of your loop experience. Expansive views of Mount Rainier, up-close views of Emmons Glacier, lakes, and campsites are just a few features of the this loop's varying landscape. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Lakes Loop

Location: Longmire/Paradise
Mileage: 5.25 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1550 feet

Reflection Lake. Photo by Ash99.
Reflection Lake. Photo by Ash99. 

Explore this loop that begins and ends at the popular Paradise Ranger Station on Mount Rainier. Hike a little more than five miles around and through a myriad of delightful lakes at the base of Washington's tallest volcano.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Eastern Washington

Mount Spokane STate Park - Three Peaks Loop

Location: Spokane Area
Mileage: 12.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2858 feet

Open field dusted with snow. Photo by Anna Roth.
Open field dusted with snow. Photo by Anna Roth. 

This loop provides a great tour of Mount Spokane State Park. It has a little bit of everything, taking visitors past some interesting and historic structures and on to wide open views. This journey fluctuates between strenuous climbs and calming places to rest. And if three peaks aren't enough for you, try the Eight Peaks Tour

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Sherman Peak Loop

Location: Okanogan Highlands
Mileage: 5.9 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet

Sherman Peak Loop by bb.jpeg
Lupine along the Sherman Peak trail. Photo by bb.

This stellar loop is home to more than 400 plants including the ever-present lupine and paintbrush and gives hikers photo-worthy views into Canada and the forests of Eastern Washington on a clear day. A fire blazed through this area in 1988 making for some interesting ecology, but also a lot of snags — keep an eye out for trees and be careful on a breezy day!

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


GRIZZLY BEAR RIDGE- WENAHA RIVER - SLICK EAR LOOP

Location: Blue Mountains
Mileage: 8.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1300 feet 

Wenaha River by Froof_D_Poof.jpeg
Wenaha River. Photo by Froof-D-Poof.

From ridgelines to river, this hike in a remote corner of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness has it all. The remote upper Wenaha watershed is a natural haven for wildlife. Absolutely bring binoculars to scan the hillsides and ridge tops for black bear (both black or brown in color), cougar, deer, elk, moose and the Wenaha wolf pack (the largest pack in Washington and Oregon).

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Virginia Lilly

Location: Okanogan Highlands/Kettle River Range
Mileage: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 900 feet

View through the trees to the valley below. WTA Archive.
View through the trees to the valley below. WTA Archive.

This delightful loop offers a journey through the Okanogan Highlands. The forest here is full of old growth trees that stand in the foreground of distant peaks. Wildflowers cover the hills in the spring and Larches provide a flash of color in the fall. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Central Washington

Badger Mountain Skyline Loop

Location: Tri-Cities Area
Mileage: 3.25 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1195 feet

Badger Mountain by Dustin Thomas.jpeg
Badger Mountain view in the spring. Photo by Dustin Thomas.

This short hike packs fantastic views. To the south, look across to the crest of the Horse Heaven Hills. North and east, all the Tri-Cites spread out below, and with binoculars you can spot every landmark with minute accuracy. Beyond this, gaze into the Wallula Gap, halfway to Walla Walla and the Blue Mountains beyond. To the west, Candy Mountain and Red Mountain complete the string of the rattlesnake’s rattle, leading over to the much higher summit of Rattlesnake Mountain.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Snow Mountain Ranch 

Location: Yakima Area 
Mileage: 9.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1140 feet

Bench overlooking the ranch. Photo by Henry.
Bench overlooking the ranch. Photo by Henry. 

Snow Mountain Ranch offers a variety of summer and winter walks on 9.2 miles of trails. Relics of the old cattle ranch still remind hikers of the past on this 1,800-acre property. History is just one of many attractions at Snow Mountain Ranch. Hike the riparian areas for a chance to glimpse great horned owls, or focus your binoculars on the local pond for sightings of a variety of ducks.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


South Cascades

Angel Falls Loop

Location: White Pass Area
Mileage: 3.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Angel Falls by Mirek Kohout.jpeg
Angel Falls. Photo by Mirek Kohout.

This short leg stretcher is a great hike for shade and well-maintained trails with views of waterfalls and rock-faces. The Angel Falls Loop includes a stop by the nearby Covel Falls (or Curtain Falls) too, and is sure to keep hikers of all ages entertained.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Buck Creek, Morrison Creek, Wicky Creek Loop

Location: Mount Adams Area
Mileage: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4100 feet

A sign along the Buck Creek Trail. Photo by Elementalll.
A sign along the Buck Creek Trail. Photo by Elementalll. 

Get a taste for the south slopes of Mount Adams area when the snow is still in the high country on this eight mile loop combining the Buck Creek Trail, Morrison Creek Trail, and Wicky Creek Trail. Start along the White Salmon River, then follow these three creeks through forests of ponderosa and aspen. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Southwest Loowit Loop

Location: Mount St. Helens Area
Mileage: 12.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2400 feet

Loowit Loop by mrhamon.jpeg
Photo by mrhamon.

Venture through dusty lahars, cool forest, and the high country on the shoulder of Mount St. Helens on this 12-mile loop. Do it in a day, or plan to camp along the way—this hike is both beautiful and a bit of a challenge; you’ll need a little scrambling experience to be comfortable hiking the whole thing. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Southwest Washington 

Silver Shadow Loop

Location: Vancouver Area
Mileage: 5.0 miles, one way
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Good signage along the trail. Photo by Anna Roth.
Good signage along the trail. Photo by Anna Roth.

This loop takes hikers through a section of the Yacolt Burn State Forest. You will pass through forests in varying stages of growth, from seedlings to mature trees. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Catherine Creek - Tracy Hill Loop

Location: Columbia River Gorge
Mileage: 6.1 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1715 feet 

Catherine Creek by HaroldC3.jpeg
Photo by HaroldC3.

This long, looping hike offers a nice ramble in the backcountry of Catherine Creek. The views are excellent almost immediately, and will only improve for most of your hike. Throughout your hike, you'll get views from the Columbia River Gorge, to the Lyle and Columbia Hills, and across the river to Rowena Plateau and the Tom McCall Nature Preserve in Oregon. Be warned — this trail does get hot in the dead of summer, so consider making it an early morning or late night outing.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Lyle Cherry Orchard

Location: Columbia River Gorge
Mileage: 6.5 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: 1050 feet

Fresh spring greenery along the Lyle Cherry Orchard trail with views over the wider Columbia River.
Head here early in the season to find bright greens and wildflowers. Photo by trip reporter Seattle-Amy.

Once an out and back trail, WTA volunteers worked with Friends of the Columbia Gorge to plan and construct two additional loops at this lovely locale. Hike the Cherry Orchard Loop for a 5-mile roundtrip outing through a meadow that was once the site of the namesake Cherry Orchard. Or opt for the slightly shorter Lyle Loop at 4 miles roundtrip. Hiking both means you’ll end your day having done about 6.5 miles total.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Snoqualmie Area

Miller Peak Loop

Location: Teanaway
Mileage: 12.9 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3600 feet

Miller Peak by Anna Roth.jpeg
A wildflower bonanza on Miller Peak. Photo by Anna Roth.

Looking for a challenging day hike? This is for you. There’s not much in the way of camping options, but it’s a great trainer, and you’ll enjoy views of the Stuart Range, but only after you do a little bushwhacking and a lot of climbing. Bring as much water as you can carry – you’ll parallel creeks on the way in and on the way out, but the majority of the hike is high and dry.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Cold Creek Loop

Location: Snoqualmie Pass
Mileage: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2600 feet

Colorful hillside along the trail. Photo by Suhleenah.
Colorful hillside along the trail. Photo by Suhleenah. 

This loop takes you past two clear and calm lakes, up a steep, brushy trail to the beautifully manicured Pacific Crest Trail, then west under the blocky granite summit of Tinkham Peak and the shining pyramid of Silver Peak before dropping to Windy Pass

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


North Cascades

Robinson Pass Loop

Location: Pasayten
Mileage: 7.9 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2500 feet

Robinson Pass by Tom Robinson.jpeg

The vast and wild Pasayten Wilderness is one of the best spots for seeking solitude in Washington. In the early season, this can be an excellent place for wildflower viewing. In the autumn, the larches across the valley can be equally stunning. Robinson Pass is one of the shorter loop options available in the Pasayten—so if you're keen on longer trips and packing in miles, grab a map and start plotting your next visit to the north!

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


scott paul trail

Location: Mount Baker Area
Mileage: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2000 feet

Scott Paul Trail. Photo by calixtomoon.
Scott Paul Trail. Photo by calixtomoon.

A loop hike to the base of Mount Baker or a rugged alternate route to Park Butte: take your pick. Along the way, soak in sweeping views of the North Cascades, gaze at Koma Kulshan’s glistening glaciers, munch on an inexhaustible supply of berries, and marvel at old-growth western hemlock forest.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Olympic Peninsula

Lake Angeles/Heather Park Loop

Location: Olympic Peninsula -- Northern Coast
Mileage: 12.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4250 feet

Mossy bridge over a creek on the Lake Angeles Trail. Photo by bzimmer.
Lake Angeles Trail. Photo by bzimmer.

If you're feeling adventurous, this strenuous loop may be for you. Instead of hiking Heather Park as an out and back— continue on to the Klahhane Ridge trail and eventually the Lake Angeles Trail, and complete a loop that ends right back where you started. You'll start with a climb to a high alpine parkland with gorgeous views, massive trees, and fluffy mosses along the way, and end with an up close and personal view of the enchanting glacier-sculpted landscape.

> Plan your trip to Lake Angeles

> Plan your trip to Heather Park


Port Gamble Forest - Forbidden Forest Loop

Location: Olympic Peninsula -- Kitsap Peninsula
Mileage: 8.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 350 feet

Forbidden Forest Trail. Photo by j. irwin.
Forbidden Forest Trail. Photo by j. irwin. 

This forest contains 60 miles of trail. This loop is a great way to get a sense for the trail network here without getting overwhelmed. Venture through Douglas fir forests and ravines full of ferns. There's also an option for a shorter loop if you prefer. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Quinault National REcreation Trails

Location: Olympic Peninsula -- Pacific Coast 
Mileage: 4.24 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 350 feet

Footbridge over Willaby Creek. Photo by Eric Nagle.
Footbridge over Willaby Creek. Photo by Eric Nagle. 

Enter a world of lush green under a towering rainforest canopy of Sitka spruce and western hemlocks. This mossy loop meanders through a boardwalked bog, past crashing creeks and the shore of Lake Quinault, returning via the shorter interpretive loop. This system of interconnecting trails provides you with options to lengthen or shorten your hike.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide