Featured HIKING TRAILS
Northeast of Bellingham near the Mt Baker, there are several magnificent routes along the North Fork of the Nooksack through virgin forests. These hiking trails include Watcom Pass (#674), Nooksack Cirque (#680), Swift Creek Trail (#607) and Silesia Creek Trail (#672).
The 500,000 acre North Cascade National Park consists of the most rugged, glaciated peaks of the Cascade Range. There are roughly 400 miles of hiking trails through old growth red cedar and hardwood forests. On the eastern edge of Ross Lake, the route up Desolation Peak has 4,500 feet of vertical and provides beauty and solitude in sub-alpine meadows.
Starting from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, the Hoh River Trail is a 17.5 mile trek through forests of Douglas Fir, Hemlocks and Big Leaf Maples with ever-present cougar, bobcat and elk. The first 11 miles of this rain forest hike are an easy, gradual ascent through lush rain forest. There are sitka spruce, hemlock, red cedar, and bigleaf maple shelter a forest floor carpeted with an incredible array of plant life.
West of Forks along the wild Pacific shoreline, the 15 mile South Coast Trail is the best wild beach hike in the US. The trail runs from the LaPush trailhead in the north to the Oil City trailhead (near the Hoh Indian reservation) in the south and follows beaches, overland trails, and headlands that can only be passed during low tide.
Northeast of Aberdeen and Lake Quinault, the East Fork Quinault River Trail is by far the most popular backpacking route in the park since it passes through the Enchanted Valley. From the Graves Creek trailhead, its a 13+ mile hike up 1,400 feet to the beginning of the Enchanted Valley, a vast glacial cirque with numerous waterfalls tumbling off the sheer cliffs. Think of it as a mini Yosemite in a temperate rain forest of hemlock, cedar and bigleaf maple.
Northwest of Olympia, Hoodsport and Duckabush, the 14 mile Duckabush Trail (#803) is a challenging hike through old growth forest beyond Big Hump with numerous campsites along the river. Plus, there is plenty of fishing and wildlife observation. The nearest potable water is at Collins Campground during camping season. The total elevation gain is from 270 feet to 1750 feet.
Northwest of Olympia and Hoodsport near Lake Cushman, the 7 mile Dry Creek Trail is a nice hike along shore of Lake Cushman for 1 1/4 mi. with views of lake and Mt. Rose. The hiking trail starts to climb at this point and the old growth forest begins at half-way point.
West of Forks along the wild Pacific shoreline, the 21 mile hike along North Wilderness Beach from Sand Point in the north to Rialto Beach in the south is an amazing adventure. This 20.8-mile hike from Rialto Beach (near Ozetta) to Sand Point (near Mora) follows beaches, overland trails, and headlands that can only be passed during low tide. Along the route, you will find rich tidal pools, harbor seals, bald eagles, and gray whales.
Northwest of Olympia and Hoodsport near Lake Cushman, the 16 mile North Fork Skokomish Trail follows the river closely through virgin forest carpeted by moss, sword ferns and salmonberry. Starting from the Staircase Ranger Station, the trail leads into the remote backcountry quickly. At Nine Streams, the route climbs out of the valley and over First Divide to the Duckabush River.
Southeast of Forks, the South Fork Hoh Trail is a remote, off-the-beaten-path rain forest trek. Just as beautiful as the much more popular Hoh Trail, this shorter jaunt is a quieter paradise that leads through virgin Sitka Spuce and western hemlock in a jungle-like rain forest setting.
South of Port Angeles, the scenic Elwah River Trail follows the river upstream for 27 miles (1,200 feet - 2,700 feet) into the Elwha Basin. The spongy trail passes through dark, moist forests of red cedar and douglas fir with beds of ferns and moss.
Northwest of Seattle on Whidbey Island, the 645 acre Fort Ebey State Park makes a great base for exploring the 28 mile Kettles Trail Network. The hiking trail network runs along a series of kettles covered with plush flora. The trails roll through the hills about the Strait of Juan de Fuca and are on well-packed dirt/sand.
East of Seattle near Enumclaw, the Skookum Flats Trail is a popular 8.2 mile hiking route on the slopes of Mt Rainier. This difficult, rolling trail winds through dense rain forest. Many hikers follow this out and back for a 16.4 mile trip.
Southeast of Seattle and Mt Rainier near Packwood, the Goat Rocks Wilderness is a 105,600 acre wonderland that is located in a portion of the volcanic Cascade Mountain Range of southwestern Washington between Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. The Goat Rocks are remnants of a large volcano, extinct for some two million years. This ancient volcano once towered over the landscape at more than 12,000 feet in elevation, but has since eroded into several peaks averaging around 8,000 feet.
Northwest of Trout Lake, the Lewis River Trail (#31) is an amazing 9 mile one-way route along the river. This lowland trail follows the course of the Lewis River as it meanders through a magnificent old-growth forest of Douglas-fir, western redcedar and bigleaf maple. Five spectacular waterfalls will delight you as you explore this route.
West of Port Angeles, the 13 mile Mount Muller Trail is a new trail constructed in the 1990's for hiking. The route passes through second generation forest and at the summit offers vistas of Mount Olympus, the strait and Vancouver Island.
Northwest of Olympia and Shelton, the spectacular Lower South Fork Skokomish Trail (#873) is an excellent 10 mile hike through lowland old-growth forest with abundant wildlife and lowland wildflowers. The hiking trail can be very muddy during periods of heavy rain.
The Wynoochee Lakeshore Trail is an 13 mile hiking loop around Wynoochee Lake through dense forests of western hemlock and douglas fir. There's no bridge over the Wynoochee River at the north end, so be prepared to ford but it can get seriously deep.
Southeast of Seattle, the Seward Park has 3 miles of trails through old growth forest. There are many trees older than 250 years. Watch out for poison oak on the interior trails.