The Pacific Northwest is home to some of America’s most spectacular hikes. If you’re a hiker who plans to visit, be sure to put one or more of these treks on your itinerary.
Wallace Falls, Central Cascades, Washington
An ideal moderate hike when you want to enjoy a nice day out, this moderate 4.6-mile out-and-back trek is located near Gold Bar in the Central Cascades and will bring you to a series of picturesque waterfall. Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch in the covered picnic area at the bottom falls, and then get ready for a slightly more challenging bit, that may take some more effort, but the views are well worth it as just another mile up and you’ll reach the top of the waterfall.
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park Washington
The Hoh Rain Forest is among the only protected temperate rain forests in the Northern Hemisphere, and a not-to-be-missed destination on the west side of the park. With an annual average of 140 inches of precipitation, the Hoh and the nearby Queets and Quinault valleys are true temperate rain forests, where annual precipitation can reach as much as 200 inches in the highlands. Combine the Sitka Nature Trail, a 1.25-mile loop, with the .8-mile Hall of Moss Trail for an unforgettable hike in the most accessible of the temperate rain forests in the park. The Sitka trail winds along the glacier-fed river, while the shorter Hall of Moss trek showcases the moss-covered maples that are especially magical in the spring.
Twin Falls, North Bend, Washington
When in need of a short, easy hike that’s big on scenery, this one is easily accessible from the Seattle area and is just two miles round trip. It follows the Snoqualmie River though the Cascade Mountain forests and offers jaw-dropping views of Twin Falls.
Chain Lakes Loop, North Cascades, Washington
This easy loop can be extended to a backpacking trip or enjoyed as a short day trip, ranging from 2 to 8 miles round trip. As snow can linger in this area well into late summer, it’s best accomplished from late July through mid-October. It really has it all, from massive Mount Baker views to glistening alpine lakes. Enjoy colorful wildflowers in the summer and gorgeous fall foliage in the autumn.
Sky Lakes Wilderness, Oregon
This is a truly magical place, and its name is rather accurate – there are hundreds of lakes set on the 6,000-foot plateau. The view from Mount McLoughlin reveals a volcanic landscape, accessible via a 3.5-mile trail off the Pacific Crest Trail, while Isherwood Trail offers outstanding fishing and swimming.
Watchman Peak Trail, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
One of the best hikes in Oregon for scenic views is the Watchman Peak Trail in Crater Lake National Park. Just follow the step path to the top to be rewarded with one of the best spots for an unobstructed overview of Wizard Island. While it is steep, it’s short at just three-quarters of a mile in length, and there are places to stop and rest along the way.
McKenzie River Trail, Central Oregon
The best hike for waterfalls in Oregon has to be the McKenzie River Trail. The stunning 26-mile trek features multiple grand waterfalls, lava fields, old growth forest, and the beautiful “Blue Pool,” a topaz blue gem-like pool that must be seen to be believed. And, just west of Clear Lake is Sahalie Falls, a breathtaking waterfall with a viewing platform.
Upper Priest River Trail, Idaho Panhandle National Forest
This trail is astoundingly scenic, following the river to the junction of the Continental Creek Trail. By following it eight miles to Upper Priest River Falls you can enjoy jaw-dropping views of the 40-foot falls, surrounded by granite walls, just a stone’s through from the Canadian border.