Top 10 hikes in Washington State

There are endless amounts of hikes in Washington. So many in-fact that you could probably spend your entire life hiking here and still have more to go. Because of this, a top 10 hikes in Washington State of all time almost seems impossible. I like to publish a post every year of my favorite hikes from that year because there are so many. This is my list of top 10 hikes that I hiked in 2021.

Choosing My Favorite Hikes of 2021

In 2021 I went on 89 hikes. It was the year I started out doing the #52hikes challenge, a hike a week. This was something that I had learned about on social media. Its a great way to give yourself a challenge, benchmark your hikes and keep you accountable.

In working on my It’s hard to narrow it down because I loved so many of them. And a lot of the hikes that I absolutely loved were about the experience not necessarily just the beauty of the hike. Although we live in such a beautiful area of the country I can’t say I have been on an ugly hike.

A few things to consider before heading out hiking.

Before setting out on any hiking adventure, it’s essential to pack the right things to be prepared for all situations. Firstly, make sure you’re equipped with the necessary tools to navigate safely through the wilderness. Consider utilizing mapping apps such as AllTrails or GaiaGPS but don’t forget the reliability of a physical map as a backup just in case. Electronics can run out of power as we all know.

Always let someone know about your hiking itinerary, including expected return times. Additionally, always carry the Ten Essentials, independent of the length or intensity of your hike. These items can be lifesaving in unexpected situations. You always want to plan for what you hope doesn’t happen! And of course, these items contribute to a smoother outdoor experience.

Top 10 hikes in Washington State for 2021 (in no particular order) 

Dog Mountain 
Top 10 hikes in Washington State
Sunset hike
Pnw Wildflower Hike

Dog Mountain 

This is the quintessential Spring Washington hike. It had been on my list for sometime and come to find out for good reason. Its one of those that makes a lot Top 10 hikes of Washington types of lists. Therefore, I had seen it over and over as one of the best spring hikes in Washington. Now I can see why.

Time this hike perfectly in the Spring and it is spectacular. Incredible view over the Columbia River Gorges and the mountainside is COVERED in wildflowers. And that is no joke, covered is the perfect description. Its a little bit of a thigh burner but the flowers and the views make it all worth it.

Make sure to check the dates of weekend permits. Because this trail is so popular in peak season, you need to get parking permits for the weekends. Check the latest here: Dog Mountain Parking Info

Add this one to your list if you haven’t already!

Park Butte Lookout

This is a beautiful hike with incredible unobstructed views of Mt.Baker, the Twin Sisters and the rest of the North Cascades. In fact, it feels as if you can reach out and almost touch Mt.Baker. Its right there! This hike also made my list of 6 Best Fire Tower Lookouts in Washington.

The hike up to the fire tower winds through meadows with wildflowers, climbs through old growth forests and crosses a fairly big stream. When you finally set eyes on the fire-tower its quite incredible as it sits perched up on a cliff. And once you are up there it is truly like being on top of the world. a

This particular lookout is open to people spending the night on a first come first serve basis. Its worth spending the night and being able to watch the sunset and sunrise over the surrounding mountains. And if you are really lucky, a cloud inversion. This hike delivers in so many ways. 

  • Location: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Mileage: 7.2
  • Elevation Gain: 2,020 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking Pass: NW Forest Pass
  • Trail Guide: Park Butte
Top 10 Washington Hikes
The Enchantments Thur Hike 
Best Larch Hikes in Washington

 The Enchantments

For me, this hike was the pinnacle of all hiking in the year 2021. Like many others, I applied for a permit to backpack in the Enchantments, only to face disappointment. I didn’t get one. With only 2% of applicants securing a permit, it’s a tough lottery. However, the setback turned into an opportunity for a new experience—I decided to thru-hike the Enchantments. And it became a goal that I trained for with a lots of intensity.

The journey as a day hike is demanding, with its fair share of challenges, but every step is really worth it. Hiking in October is particularly special; the landscape transforms into a tapestry of gold. The larches literally glow a vibrant yellow, and the combination between the golden foliage, the rugged white mountains, and the pristine blue lakes is simply magical.

An important note about thru hiking this one. It truly takes some training and hiking experience. The day is long and not to be taken lightly.

Top 10 hikes in Washington State
Jade Lake
Most beautiful lakes in Washington

Jade lake 

Jade Lake’s color is absolutely mesmerizing. Nestled high in the Alpine Wilderness and surrounded by towering mountains, this lake feels almost otherworldly. Its incredibly blue-green water, which gives Jade Lake its name, coupled with the 20+ mile hike to reach it, makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a dream.

Most hikers opt for an overnight trip, but I decided to test my endurance and completed it in a day, covering 24.2 miles with over 4,300 feet of elevation gain. From Jade Lake, you can also hike up to Dip Top Gap to see Pea Soup Lake. Although I had to turn back halfway up the snowfield due to forgetting my microspikes, it’s at the top of my list for next year.

Whether you choose to hike Jade Lake as a day trip or an overnight adventure, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

TOP 10 Washington State Hikes
Robin and Tuck Lakes 
Most beautiful Lakes in Washington

Tuck and Robin Lakes

This hike offers a perfect blend of stunning views, challenging climbs, and a rewarding destination at the brilliantly blue Robin Lakes. But holy moly the ascent can be tough at times. Its a thigh burner. It also requires careful navigation to stay on the trail, but following the cairns will keep you on track.

Many hikers compare it to the Enchantments, and it’s easy to see why. Its as tough and as BEAUTIFUL! This is one hike I definitely could add to my top 10 hikes in Washington State of all times!

Top Washington Hikes
Ape Caves 
Mount Saint Helens Wilderness

Ape Caves 

We did this hike as a family, and it was an absolute blast—an epic adventure to share with kids! The trail offered plenty of climbing and exploring dark, cavernous spaces, making it an exciting experience for everyone.

My kids loved it and had no trouble navigating the longer and more challenging upper cave. If you’re looking to escape the heat and try something different, I highly recommend the Ape Caves in the Mt. St. Helens Wilderness. You do need reservations to enter before 5 pm, which you can easily get at Recreation.gov. The reservations are inexpensive, help control the number of people in the cave, and are pretty easy to obtain.

Don’t forget to bring headlamps, and just a tip: while the rules state no food in the cave, it’s a good idea to pack some snacks for the hike back once you exit. The Ape Caves offer a unique and memorable adventure for families, and we can’t wait to go back!

  • Location: Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
  • Mileage: 12.8
  • Elevation Gain: 377
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking Pass: NW Forest Pass

Alltrails: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/ape-cave-trail

Cutthroat Pass 

This is hands down one of my favorite trails in the North Cascades National Park in Washington. Especially in mid to late fall because it has SO MANY LARCHES. Its makes for an excellent Larch March for those of you Larch enthusiasts. I did it at the tail end of the larches after a small dusting of snow and it looked like a fairytale. Its a bit of a haul for a day hike from Seattle being on Highway 20 just before Washington Pass. Some hikes are truly worth driving for and this is one. The sun was shining and the colors were incredible.

This hike is not as popular as the ever famous Maple Pass loop trail across the street. And it sees WAY less people which look for in a hike. And in my humble opinion it delivers just the same if not more!

  • Location: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
  • Mileage: 9.8
  • Elevation Gain: 2,007
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking Pass: NW Forest Pass

Alltrails: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/cutthroat-lake-and-cutthroat-pass

Top Hikes in Washington 
Mount Rainier National Park
Best Lookout Towers in Washington

Fremont Lookout Tower 

If you have time for one hike on the Sunrise side of Mount Rainier National Park, make it this one. The views are outstanding and you almost never lose sight of Mt.Rainier. Its kinds epic, not gonna lie.

Sunset is probably the best in the park from this lookout tower in the summer. It sits in just the right spot. Its a fairly easy hike with a gradual ascent and its fairly open the entire time. I did this one with my kids and it made for a very special evening. I feel most kids with secure footing could make this one. The only portion I might worry about is the last section before the tower because its rather exposed. Nothing a little hand holding wont remedy.

If you head up for sunset don’t forget a headlamp. Although its so open you have light for a while, it is long enough that eventually you need to reach for some light!

  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Mileage: 5.7
  • Elevation Gain: 1,108
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking Pass: America The Beautiful / National Park Day Pass

AllTrails: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/mount-fremont-lookout-trail-via-sourdough-ridge-trail

TOP WASHINGTON HIKES
Best Alpine Lakes in Washington

Lake Ingalls 

Lake Ingalls is a BEAUTIFUL hike. It offers so much, especially wildlife, specifically, mountain goats. If you are hoping to see some mountain goats in Washington, check out this hike!

This is a great hike to see some color in the Fall. It boasts lots of color, LARCHES and of course stunning mountain views. The lake itself is quite stunning. I wasnt brave enough to go for a dip, but its not out of the question. The views of Mt, Stuart are some of the best.

This is also a great place to backpack. There are several awesome campsites on your way to the lake in a place called Headlight Basin. No permit necessary!

  • Location: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
  • Mileage: 8.9
  • Elevation Gain: 2,834
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking Pass: Northwest Forest Pass

AllTrails: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/lake-ingalls

Top Washington Hikes

Goldmeyer Hot Springs 

This hike is a treat, especially if you have a reservation at the hot springs waiting for you. Which in all honestly might be the main reason you go. It why I did. And nothing feels better than hot springs in the winter time.

To get reservations at the hot spring you can put your name into a monthly lottery. You can do this here: https://www.goldmyer.org/

It took me several try’s until I was selected. If you do get a spot, its a marvelous day out. When I hiked the 10 miles round trip to get there it was a beautiful winter wonderland, it had just snowed the night before. The hike itself is very straightforward and easy but just a bit long.

The hot springs themselves are quite small but very enjoyable if you are sharing them with just a few. Apparently you can also camp here in the spring/ summer and fall!

  • Location: Middle Fork Valley
  • Mileage: 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking Pass: Northwest Forest Pass

Conclusion

I hope you found these hikes interesting and inspirational. And of course worthy of being added to your bucket list. They all offer something special that wont disappoint!

Happy Hiking!

1 Comments

  • Twicsy

    June 16, 2022 at 6:31 pm

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I
    thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are
    but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

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