One of the most widespread misunderstandings is that all new hikers prefer to undertake just the easiest paths. This is not the case! Many beginning hikers have informed me that although they like being pushed, they prefer to stick to well-maintained routes and walks where they will not be alone (in case they get into any difficulties).
Keeping this in mind, the 11 beginner-friendly Washington hikes listed below vary from simple to intermediate, short to lengthy, and are located across the state. All of these routes are quite popular, well-maintained, mainly accessible via paved roads, and feature trailhead amenities such as vault toilets.
1. The Barclay Lake
The Barclay Lake walk is a beginner-friendly Washington hike since it is short, not too steep, and has an easy-to-follow approach.
It’s also a good one to go on in the late spring/early summer since the track clears of snow before many other walks higher up in the Rockies.
Those who live on Seattle’s northern outskirts may also do this as an after-work trek during the summer when the days are longer!
For those who are new to the outdoors and want to put their backpacking abilities and gear to the test, Barclay Lake is a great spot to do so.
There are a few authorized camping places around the lake where you may spend the night, and if things don’t go as planned, it’s just a short walk back to your vehicle.
Access to the road is through a dirt forest road, however 4WD is not frequently necessary.
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2. Marymere Falls
After travelling across the Olympic Peninsula, a climb to Marymere Falls is a terrific way to stretch your legs.
It travels through the forest and crosses a lovely creek on the way to the falls, taking less than two miles roundtrip.
While you’re in the region, be sure to visit Lake Crescent and the lovely Storm King Ranger Station.
More suggestions may be found in this blog article!
3. Hoh Rain Forest Loop
Spruce Nature Trail and Hall of Mosses make up the Hoh Rain Forest Loop, which is really a combination of two shorter routes.
They depart from the same parking lot and make a terrific duo if you’re visiting Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest region.
Because these paths are so flat and short, they may be enjoyed by almost everyone!
This trek is particularly gorgeous in the spring, when the foliage is at its peak, but it is as lovely at other times of the year.
Check out my Olympic National Park travel guide!
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4. Heybrook Lookout
Heybrook Lookout is perhaps the nearest lookout tower to Seattle, making it a wonderful after-work trek in the summer.
However, don’t be fooled by the hike’s short duration! There are a handful of tough portions, so bring plenty of drink and wear appropriate hiking clothing and shoes.
The overlook offers spectacular views of Mt Index and the surrounding peaks, as well as a picnic area at the bottom for a food stop.
Sunset is a fantastic time to visit Heybrook Lookout since the light is so beautiful!
5. Rattlesnake Lake
For good reason, Rattlesnake Ledge is a popular Washington trek.
It attracts visitors from all around Puget Sound since it is so near to Seattle (35 minutes from downtown) and has such beautiful views of the cascades/Rattlesnake Lake below.
Keep in mind that this is not the trek to go on if you want to get away from the crowds, but it is a great way to improve your cardio and hiking legs.
This trip is also snow-free for the bulk of the year due to its low height, enabling you to maintain your fitness over the winter when many other hikes are impossible without snowshoes.
Rattlesnake Ridge is accessible all year, although I like to hike it in the spring when the route is clear of ice.
The lake is roughly 3 miles south-east of North Bend and 35 miles east of Seattle, near Interstate 90, exit 32.
Because to its near proximity to Seattle, I was able to squeeze this one in after work when I used to work downtown.
A little stroll up to Rattlesnake Ridge for sunset was the best way to shake off the workplace.
This isn’t a difficult trek, but the last two miles of switchbacks are completely uphill, so don’t anticipate an easy trip.
You should also not expect to be alone.
There’s no escaping the throng on good weekends; even at daybreak, expect to share the ledge with a lot of other people (and dogs).
However, the views from the summit are spectacular, and there’s plenty of space to stretch out.
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6. Lake Twenty-Two
Lake Twenty-Two is a typical beginner-friendly alpine lake walk in Washington.
It’s simple to get to and has a well-kept route since it’s located along Mountain Loop Hwy.
This is a nice one to “graduate” to if you’ve gotten the hang of shorter walks like Rattlesnake Ledge and Barclay Lake, or for those who are already reasonably fit.
In certain areas, the terrain might be rough and root-infested, so keep an eye on your step.
The views from the summit are spectacular, with a crystal alpine lake surrounded by high peaks emerging from the forest.
This is a nice place to stop for a snack or a meal before returning to the vehicle.
It’s worth noting that the parking lot might fill up quickly, so get there early OR wait until the day-trippers return after lunch.
7. Skyline Loop Trail
The Skyline Loop Trail is an excellent trek for seeing Mount Rainier up and personal.
You’ll start from the crowded Paradise parking lot, but once you’re out on the path, the people will thin off.
When the wildflowers are at their height (July/August), this is one of my favorite summer treks because the blooms are plentiful and brilliant!
If you complete the whole circle, you’ll be climbing quite a bit to get to the highest point, so pack some food and drink.
This loop’s beginning is actually paved, making it a wonderful choice for elderly relatives who may struggle on conventional trails.
Check out my entire guide to Mount Rainier National Park!
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8. Heather-Maple Pass Loop
One of my favorite walks in Washington is the Heather-Maple Pass Loop.
It’s more difficult than some of the others on our list, but it’s also quite accessible, well-trafficked, and simple to browse.
Expect a hard hike to the summit, but the views are well worth the effort!
This trek is best suited for those with a bit more hiking experience since the elevation climb might be difficult for some.
Keep in mind that there are a handful of locations where the route branches off in different directions, so anyone unfamiliar with the region should bring a map.
Given that Seattle is just a few hours away, I suggest camping at one of the surrounding parks and making a great weekend out of it!
9. Mount Pilchuck
Mount Pilchuck may be Washington’s most popular fire lookout walk, and after doing it a few times, I can understand why.
The 360-degree views of Mount Rainier and Glacier Peak from the top of the cascades are breathtaking!
This trek has a significant amount of elevation gain, so I would classify it as intermediate to tough.
It’s an excellent one to try after you’ve completed some of the simpler walks previously recommended.
This trip is best done from July to October when there is less chance of snow, although with the correct kit for light snow travel, it may still be done in late spring.
The parking lot, like many of the other treks on our list, may be rather crowded, so get there early to avoid disappointment (or go later in the afternoon).
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10. Colchuck Lake
The most difficult trek on our list is Colchuck Lake, but it’s a well-known and well-maintained track that’s simple to find.
If you’re new to hiking, I wouldn’t suggest this path as your first hike, but after you’ve logged some miles, it’s a must-do!
The views of Colchuck Lake from the summit are some of the greatest in Washington, and you can even jump in the lake to cool yourself on a hot summer day.
Day hikers are allowed; however camping requires a permit (which is acquired via a lottery method).
Be careful that the parking lot fills up quickly, so be there as soon as possible (especially if you are visiting on a weekend).
This trek is also best done in the summer as the snow melts, so plan on hiking between June and October, depending on snow conditions.
After your climb, I suggest stopping in neighboring Leavenworth for a nice supper before going back to Seattle!
11. Artist Point
This is definitely my favorites winter sport in Washington since it is so easily accessible.
In the summer, you may drive straight up to Artist Point; however, the road is blocked about 2 miles from the summit in the winter, and you must park at the Bagley Lake trailhead.
This is a trek for people who are a bit more experienced, since there is some route finding to be done and snowshoes are required.
Take a look at my detailed blog entry about this winter journey!
You may also want to learn how to snowshoe and what to dress when trekking in the winter.
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12. Oyster Dome
The Chuckanut Mountains, just south of Bellingham, are home to Oyster Dome.
To reach Oyster Dome, the route climbs steeply up a series of switchbacks, providing wide views of Samish Bay.
Vancouver Island and the Olympic Mountains may be seen in the distance.
Oyster Dome’s western-facing perspective makes it a lovely place to watch a sunset; just remember to bring your flashlight for the descent!
Do you want to go on a longer hike?
To prolong your trek, continue on to North Butte and/or circle back around Lily Lake and the Samish Overlook.
I’ve always gotten to Oyster Dome through Chuckanut Drive (Highway 11).
This route has more switchbacks and height increase than the others, but it has always appeared the most convenient.
The Department of Natural Resources, on the other hand, recommends that tourists approach Oyster Dome via the Samish Overlook parking lot rather than the illegal route on Chuckanut Drive.
I didn’t know about this parking space until I was conducting some fact-checking for this piece, and I’ll definitely try it next time.
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Hiking Etiquette to keep in mind
It’s critical to follow proper hiking etiquette while visiting these beginner-friendly Washington trails.
I’ve included some major topics here, but you should read my in-depth Guide to Hiking Trail Etiquette for more information.
- Give way to hikers heading uphill unless otherwise indicated, and always yield to horses and other load animals.
- Give fellow hikers a pleasant “hello” to let them know you’re approaching (and to create a welcoming atmosphere on the trail).
- On the path, don’t talk loudly on the phone, yell at your buddies frequently, or blast music (no speakers, please!) Keep noise to a minimal to be considerate to other hikers and animals. Many animal species depend on natural sounds for communication and altering such sounds might jeopardize their survival prospects.
- When yielding, stay on the path unless it’s absolutely required. Going off path might harm plant and animal species, as well as the ecosystems of the trails.
- Always follow the principles of Leave No Trace (more on that later): leave rocks, plants, and artefacts where you find them for others to enjoy.
- Allow animals to have their space by staying a safe distance and without disturbing them. NEVER, EVER, EVER feed wild animals.
- If you’re going to be out in nature, you should try to safeguard it by following Leave No Trace guidelines. Also, please make sure you’re well-informed before going out.
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Now you are aware about the best hikes in Washington Spring to try. Take a look at these hikes and see what you will be able to get out of them.