When people think of Washington, they often think of the outdoors, and for good reason as both the famous Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens are in our backyard and are definitely a must-see for adventurers who visit the state. In addition to these magnificent mountains, there are an endless numbers of trails to explore in other parks and mountains throughout the region. There is something for every skill level and interest. There are shorter, flatter hikes for hikers who want to enjoy the outdoors without overexerting themselves as well as longer, steeper journeys for trekkers that want to push themselves a bit. Likewise, there are hikes that feature sweeping views of the surrounding areas, rushing waterfalls or crystal clear lakes and streams. Inspired to get out and explore? Here are Clipper team members Brenna Ciummo & Joel Ray’s top 10 picks for hikes in the Washington with stunning views.
Perhaps because the trail is only 5.6 miles round trip with just 1,300 ft. of elevation gain or because it is well-known for its tremendous waterfalls, Wallace Falls is one of Washington’s most popular attractions. As result, expect to find a lot of people on the trail, which is just northeast of Goldbar, although it is less busy if you get an early start. The trail features three waterfalls, the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls, all of them make for great photo ops, but the Middle Falls are by far the most stunning.
The beautiful Snow Lake found in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness region of Snoqualmie Pass offers different views depending on the time of year. If you visit in July there is a good chance the lake will be at least partially frozen over and surrounded by snow. However, the advantage of the lake’s late thaw out is that the trail remains hike-able into the fall. Come October, you can expect to view clear waters surrounded by fall foliage. Either way, the views at the end of 7.2 mile hike, with a 1,800 ft. elevation gain are lovely during both mid and late season.
Bridal Veil Falls & Lake Serene
The Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene Trail will remind of you of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that were popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s. On this trek, you have the option of exploring Bridal Veil Falls (4.0 miles round trip) or Lake Serene (7.2 miles round trip), which are both stunning on their own, or combining them for a fantastic day of hiking at 8.2 miles round trip with a 1,000 ft. elevation gain. At about 1.7 miles into the trail, the path will spilt, with the trail to the right leading you on a half-mile hike to Bridal Veil Falls. (If you are skipping the falls, continue on the trail you have been following). These rushing falls truly are breathtaking, make sure to check out both the upper and lower views of the falls, which allow you to get up close to falls or get a bigger view of the entire scene. If you decide to continue on to Lake Serene, head back down to the main trail and continue following it until you reach the lake.
Unlike its name suggests, this Leavenworth area hike is only 6.6 miles long and a 1,300 ft. elevation gain prevents it from being challenging for beginning hikers. Along the hike you will trek through meadows filled with wildflowers, burnt out forests, lakes (do not be deceived and think the first lake you arrive at is Eightmile Lake, it is Little Eightmile Lake and is not your final destination) and mountain streams. At the end of the trail you will reach the grandest lake of them all, Eightmile Lake itself. This is the perfect spot to stop and take a break for lunch and enjoy the view before hiking back to the trail head.
Located in North Bend, Rattlesnake Ledge is the perfect hike for beginners and even more advanced hikers who want to enjoy breathtaking views without a strenuous climb, as the hike is only 4.0 miles with a 1,160 ft. elevation gain. The ledge at the summit is pretty exposed, so make sure not to get too close to the edge, but take your time at the top to enjoy views of Rattlesnake Lake below as well as Mt. Si and the Cedar River watershed.
Towering over the town of North Bend, the popular Mt. Si is also formidable, with a 3,150 ft. elevation gain and 8 miles round trip with switchbacks most of the way. However, the views at the top make trek worth the effort. Just make sure you are not fooled by the people eating lunch at the lower western summit and make sure you end your hike on top of Haystack, Mt. Si’s true summit.
At 5.4 miles round trip, Mt. Pilchuck is not a long hike, but the 2,300 ft. elevation gain combined with the rocky terrain make the hike a bit more challenging. You will also need to be willing to climb over rock for a few feet to reach the old fire lookout. However, the 360-degree views are worth the effort, as on a clear day you can see Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, the Olympics and even the city of Everett and Whidbey Island in the distance.
Situated roughly 10 miles from Concrete, WA, Baker Lake offers stunning views of snow-capped Mt. Baker and is a perfect spot for both day hiking and backpacking. The trail maintains a fairly steady grade around the lake, meaning hikers can make their trek as long or as short as they wish.
At seven miles round trip and 1,500 feet of elevation gain, Lake Valhalla is a moderate hike that rewards you with ample views and a pristine glacial lake. With the majority of the journey taking place along the Pacific Crest Trail, curious hikers can get a small taste of the 2,663-mile trail.
Nestled in the northeast corner of Olympic National Park is Boulder Lake, is a somewhat strenuous hike at 12 miles round trip with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Sitting in the shadow of Boulder Peak, this sub-alpine lake makes for an excellent lunch spot.