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22 Short Summer Hikes with Giant Views

Find big summer views without putting in long miles.

Dramatic views are kind of Washington's thing.

So many of our summer alpine trails turn a corner or pop over a ridge and BAM! Mountain views stretching on for miles. Alpine cirques. Hanging lakes. Seas of wildflowers. The hulking face of a glacier. And you might not always want to put in 7, 12 or 25 miles to reach those kind of views. These are a sampling of bigger views without the long miles.

But that doesn't mean they're all easy.

A grassy hill with a narrow brown path.
Klahane Ridge. Photo by Graham Clenaghan. 

Easy or hard? It depends. Don't underestimate the challenge of shorter hikes. There are two ways to reach these kind of views in less than 2.5 miles: by letting a car or bike do most of the work, or by hauling yourself up. To achieve great views, many trails climb and descend more steeply than longer, gentler hikes or more accessible trails. Trail tread and exposure can also make these trails more or less difficult. Depending on the condition of the road leading to the trailhead, you may also need to tack on extra road-walking miles.

Read the full hike descriptions, recent trail or road conditions and pay attention to the gain to figure out which hikes are right for you.   

Tips for summer view hikes

  • Want good views? Check the weather. 
  • Brush up on basics: These hikes are short, but you'll still want to carry the Ten Essentials.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. On every hike, practice Leave No Trace ethics.
  • Find more short hikes with great views by filtering your search results in WTA's Hiking Guide for hikes with mountain views and mileage.  

Mount Rainier Area

GOLDEN GATE LOOP

Location: Paradise Area
Mileage: 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1160 feet

Golden Gate Loop by JenPhong.jpeg
Photo by JenPhong.

With high elevation hubs at Paradise and Sunrise, Mount Rainier is a treasure trove of big view hikes. In some cases, they even start from the moment you climb out of a car. But heading away from parking lots even a mile or two will reward you with wildflowers, the chance to spot some wildlife and a slightly different perspective. This little loop climbs up through meadows is best done at the height of wildflower season after snow has melted off the trail. (Snow can stick around through mid-late July this high on the mountain.)

>> Plan your visit to Golden Gate

Dege Peak

Location: Sunrise Area
Mileage: 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Dege Peak by LostWisconsinite.jpeg
Photo by LostWisconsinite.

This relatively gentle climb rewards with in-your-face views of Mount Rainier so typical of Sunrise. But on a clear day, this perch above Sourdough Ridge rewards you with peeks ranging from the Cowlitz Chimneys to the far-off peaks of Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Glacier Peak and Mount Baker. A bit of summit courtesy (getting a look, and then moving off the small summit) may be in order if you visit when things are hopping.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

PINNACLE SADDLE

Location: Cayuse Pass/Steven's Canyon
Mileage:  2.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

Pinnacle Saddle by David Hagen.jpeg
Photo by David Hagen.

If you want a telescope quality view of Mount Rainier than Pinnacle Saddle is where you want to be! Seemingly so close you can touch it, this view of iconic peak of our state is coupled with the beautiful lushness of the Nisqually River valley below. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Southwest Washington

SILVER STAR MOUNTAIN

Location: Lewis River Region
Mileage: 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

Silver Star Mountain by justpeachy.jpeg
Photo by justpeachy.

The view from Silver Star Mountain is one of the best around. Sitting in the center of the Chinook Trail System near Battle Ground, Silver Star offers expansive vistas from the get-go, and is one of the absolute best spots in Southwest Washington for wildflowers in the springtime. (It's pretty spectacular in the fall as well.) The catch: you’d better have a high clearance vehicle, because you have to drive a notoriously bad road to access it.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Little Huckleberry Mountain 

Location: Columbia River Gorge 
Mileage: 5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet

A snow-covered volcano rising from the flat valley.
The views from Little Huckleberry Mountain are stunning. Photo by jrdearman. 

Hike along the slopes of this mountain and snack on huckleberries during the right season. Once on top feast your eyes on the surrounding peaks including Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide 


South Cascades

WINDY RIDGE

Location: Mount St Helens
Mileage: 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Windy Ridge by Hiking Nerds.jpeg
Photo by Hiking Nerds.

Like many of the trails around Mount St. Helens, you don't need to get high to get spectacular views. The recovering blast zone has so few standing trees that vistas abound across this unique landscape. Windy Ridge is a great view hike without a lot of effort, and the visitor center offers a nice launching point. A tip: hike this earlier or later in the day to stay cool and for the beauty created by the longer light. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

sunrise peak

Location: Dark Divide
Mileage: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1400 feet

Sunrise Peak by austineats.jpeg
Photo by austineats.

Visit Sunrise Peak at the right time, and you'll see why it got its name. The site of a former fire lookout, the trail is steep but short. Along the way, you'll have views of Mount Adams and Mount Rainier, and from the summit, you can enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the incredible geology in the Dark Divide.

(A note: Check road conditions before you start out. If the 2018 road washout makes this shorter approach inaccessible, try for nearby 6-mile Juniper Ridge instead.)

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Olympic Peninsula

Klahhane ridge

Location: Northern Coast
Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip 
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet

Klahhane Ridge by Bob and Barb.jpeg
Photo by Bob and Barb.

You can approach the very popular Klahhane Ridge from multiple trails within Olympic National Park, but they all lead to stunning views of the Olympics. The way via the Switchback Trail is steep, so if you don't have the climb in you, approach the ridge via the Hurricane Ridge parking lot on the Mount Angeles trail.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Lillian Ridge

Location: Northern Coast
Mileage: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet

237780BE-CA52-4D67-B4A4-1F61BB6BB583.jpeg
Photo by main_jane.

Another popular Olympic National Park trail that lets the road to the trailhead do most of your climbing. With big views of the Olympics and the Cascades from the get-go, you can make this hike a short stroll, or a much longer experience. Just be sure to plan for a day without thunderstorms, and be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Striped Peak

Location: Northern Coast
Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Striped Peak by parisrobin.jpeg
Photo by parisrobin.

The best views of this trail within Clallam County’s 196-acre Salt Creek Recreation Area are not alpine views, but those of the big, blue Strait of Juan de Fuca. Plus, with nearby camping, playgrounds and Port Angeles not far away, a short hike can just be the start of your visit.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Eastern Washington

Iller Creek

Location: Spokane Area
Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1200 feet

Iller Creek by Todd Dunfield.jpeg
Photo by Todd Dunfield.

Like many other short hikes with big views, Iller Creek is no secret. But this Spokane favorite is a reliable get away when you just need to get out of town for a couple of hours and take in the valley views from a perch. This little loop can even be a great way to reconnect with the wonder of the Palouse while you wait out traffic (it's only 15 minutes from the I-90) on your commute.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Grouse Mountain

Location: Umatilla
Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Grouse Mountain by Greg Brown.jpeg
Photo by Greg Brown.

This trail an hour from Walla Walla is one of the few ridge hikes that you will hike down to. That means the road does a lot of your work here. You'll get classic Blue Mountain views on this ridgeline worth walking.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Table Rock

Location: Palouse and Blue Mountains
Mileage: 1.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Table Rock.jpeg

While the views are spectacular, geology buffs will find this unique spot most worth a visit. When the road is dry and good shape, you might be able to drive to this fire lookout view of the Palouse. But go planning on walking the short road up. (Looking for a longer hike to a lookout? Try Oregon Butte instead.)

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


North Cascades

Tiffany Mountain Via Freezeout Ridge

Location: Pasayten
Mileage: 4.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1685 feet

Tiffany Peak by RichP.jpeg
Photo by RichP.

As one of the higher trailheads in the state, Tiffany Mountain via Freezeout Ridge will boast views that will take your breath away just as much as the elevation. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Lookout mountain Lookout - Methow

Location: Methow/Sawtooth
Mileage: 2.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1100 feet

Lookout Mountain Lookout by Hiking Mom.jpeg
Photo by Hiking Mom.

The historic lookout is not the only perk of this hike. In under two hours you will enjoy panoramic views, lush forests and wildflowers in addition to your destination.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Goat peak lookout

Location: Methow/Sawtooth
Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1400 feet

Goat Peak Lookout by Hiking Mom.jpeg
Photo by Hiking Mom.

Goat Peak and it's iconic fire lookout comprise the most prominent landmark in the Methow Valley. Visible from nearly every angle between Mazama and Winthrop, the lookout provides sweeping views of the North Cascade's summits.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Puget Sound and Islands

Turtleback mountain

Location: San Juan Islands
Mileage: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 830 feet

Turtleback Mountian by kj15.jpeg
Photo by kj15.

Turtleback Mountain Preserve is one of the largest conservation success stories in the San Juans. From the top of the mountain you are provided a vantage point at which you can view everything from the rolling pastures of the Crow Valley to the emerald hulk of Mount Constitution. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Chambers Bay Loop

Location: Tacoma Area
Mileage: 3.25 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 315 feet

A grassy golf course with the ocean in the background.
Chambers Bay Loop. Photo by Otter50.

This scenic golf course is not just for golfers. With a public path that circles the greens, and some steep sections climbing to views of Chamber's Bay this nearby park offers sweeping views of the Puget Sound. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide 


Snoqualmie Area

thorp mountain via knox creek

Location: Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Mileage: 4.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1734 feet

A view of Mount Rainier in the distance with a small lake in the foreground.
Photo by yasobara.

Short but steep with a big payoff at the end. The vista from the look out is the highest point for many miles in all directions. Enjoy wildflowers, berries and gorgeous views along your path to the summit. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

Garfield Ledges

Location: North Bend Area
Mileage: 2.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 830 feet

A forested river valley with mountains on both sides.
View of the Middle Fork Valley. Photo by Scotty22.

This trail reaches a scenic viewpoint in just over a mile. From the ledges hikers can take in the expansive Middle Fork Valley and watch the river wind its way through the forest. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide 


Central Cascades

heybrook ridge

Location: Stevens Pass - West
Mileage: 3.3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 760 feet

Heybrook Ridge by thenomadicartist.jpeg
Photo by thenomadicartist.

Heybrook Ridge is a relatively new trail that will take you through a rocky, moss covered forest en route to incredible views of the surrounding peaks.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

poe mountain via irving pass

Location: Stevens Pass - East
Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet

Poe Mountain by bertman4.jpeg
Photo by bertman4.

Guaranteed to get your blood pumping (the elevation gain is significant) the hike along the ridge provides awesome views both to the north and south. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide