Post Summary: Our Favorite Hikes In The Pacific Northwest, and where to find them.
Have you ever overwhelmed by the sheer amount of hikes in the Pacific Northwest to choose from?
You’re not alone.
However, the uncertainty doesn’t last long. No matter what trail you choose, you’ll be hiking in the most beautiful area of the world! To be honest, we have never been on a Pacific Northwest hike that was disappointing.
There are so many amazing hikes in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy, and we’re hoping to share just a few of our favorites to inspire your next adventure to the PNW. If you want some that are tested by Berty and I (and are super beautiful) we’ve created this list of 20 Pacific Northwest hikes that we recommend!
20 Of Our Favorite Hikes In The Pacific Northwest
Prepping for your hike? Read these posts too:
- 11 Best Hiking Apps To Download for Navigation and GPS
- Everything You Need For Your First Backpacking Trip
- Camping Hygiene 101: How To Stay Clean On The Trail
- What To Pack For A Pacific Northwest Hike
1. East End of Rundle
The East End of Rundle is (in our opinion) one of Banff’s most photogenic places. This hike takes trekkers up a steep trail with switchbacks, winding rock scrambles, and bouts of climbing over boulders.
The challenging trail is worth the climb, for the view of Ha Ling peak across the reservoir is majestic and commanding. If you climb even higher above this Ha Ling viewpoint (pictured below) you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Bow Valley all around you.
- Distance: 3.6-mile out and back trail.
- Difficulty: Difficult. The trail is steep, and we would suggest using hiking poles for balance on under surfaces.
- Location: Banff National Park in Canmore, Alberta
2. Mount Storm King
Test your fear of heights at Mount Storm King Trail in the Olympic National Park! This challenging trail is only 4.7-miles round trip, but the elevation gain is nearly 3000 feet, making this trail a steep ascent! All the effort isn’t for nothing though – this is one of the hikes in the PNW with the best views!
To make it to the top, you’ll have to use the assistance of a series of ropes tied to the side of the mountain to help keep balance. Once you make it past that obstacle though, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree panoramic views of the mountains, and Lake Crescent below.
- Distance: 4.7-mile out and back trail.
- Difficulty: Challenging. The trail is short, but the elevation gain on this hike makes the trip steep and dangerous at times.
- Location: Mount Storm King Ranger Station, Olympic National Park, Washington
3. Valley of Five Lakes
Valley of the Five Lakes is a popular hiking destination in Jasper National Park. The trail family-friendly and easy to do in a single morning or afternoon.
The trail leads you in a loop around five individual lakes, each with its own hue of blue/turquoise. You can opt to sit in one of the six sets of famous red chairs around Jasper too.
Make sure to pack bug spray during this hike, especially in the summertime. The bugs can be intense!
- Distance: 2.8-mile loop trail.
- Difficulty: Easy. Some parts have a slight elevation gain, but there are plenty of places to rest along the way.
- Location: Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Read More: 10 Easy Hikes In Jasper National Park
Colchuck Lake is an essential trail on any Pacific Northwest hiking bucket list. Its pristine waters and towering mountains will turn anyone into a great outdoor’s enthusiast!
This trail is commonly seen as a gateway to multi-day backpacking trips to more alpine lakes (permit needed!). Though, this day hike satisfies any PNW lover’s desire for glacial-fed lakes all wrapped up in a convenient out and back adventure.
Come at sunrise for the best chance of having this lake all to yourself – just remember to bring your headlight!
- Distance: 8-mile out-and-back trail.
- Difficulty: This is a tough hike. The trail includes rocky switchbacks, exposed roots, and climbing around boulders.
- Location: Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, near Leavenworth, Washington.
Read More: Hiking Colchuck Lake During Sunrise
Heather Lake is a quintessential Pacific Northwest hike. From moss-covered trees to hidden lakes, to moody morning fog, this hike has it all! Click here to read about our sunrise hike to this classic lake!
If you are interested in doing a few hikes in one day, this location on Mountain Loop Highway is the perfect launching pad for more beautiful hikes in the PNW. Here are some more Mountain Loop Highway trails nearby:
- Mt. Pilchuck Hike
- Lake Twenty-Two
- Glacier Basin
- Big Four Ice Caves
- Monte Cristo Ghost Town
- Gothic Basin
- and so much more!
- Distance:4.6-mile out-and-back hike.
- Difficulty: Moderate. Slippery rocks are present on the trail, and snow is likely at the top all year round.
- Location: Off Mountain Loop Highway, in Mt. Pilchuck State Park.
Read More: Heather Lake: An Easy Morning Hike
Hurricane Ridge is a hiking area, perfect for sunrises and sunsets located in the Olympic National Park. It’s one of the best hikes in the PNW to take on an Olympic National Park itinerary, as the trailhead is easy to reach and great for the whole family!
It is an extremely easy mountain area to access, which makes it a perfect stop on any Olympic Peninsula Road Trip. It takes about 40 minutes via car to drive into the mountains from the city of Port Angeles.
The road to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center is most used during the summer months. The road is open only on weekends in the winter months if weather permits. However it’s also one of the best Washington winter hikes on the Olympic Peninsula, so if you can make it out here it’s totally worth it!
- Distance: Click here for a list of available trails on Hurricane Ridge.
- Difficulty: Ranges from easy 50-foot loops to difficult 8.0-mile out and back trails.
- Location: Olympic National Park, 20 miles south of Port Angeles.
Read More: A Sunset Adventure To Hurricane Ridge
Cape Flattery is the most northwest corner of the contiguous United States. Here, you can enjoy a simple, boardwalk-lined trail with several viewing decks of beautiful sea stacks and ocean vistas. Don’t forget to bring your camera! It’s one of the few hikes in the PNW where you can experience several vantage points of the pacific ocean, all in one stop!
Note* This area requires a Makah Reservation Pass, which is $10. Discover locations to buy passes here.
- Distance: 1.5-mile round trip hike
- Difficulty: Easy. You are walking on clear paths and boardwalks the entire way.
- Location: Olympic Peninsula, on the Makah Indian Reservation.
Read More: What To Expect At Cape Flattery
If you’re craving the ocean and gorgeous Washington hikes with sea stacks, La Push Beach trails are for you.
Ranging from easy to moderate, these hikes correlate with the beaches (called First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach) each with their own things to see.
First Beach is a drive-up view of sea stacks and rocky shore. Second Beach provides even more sea stacks, huge logs washed up on shore, and beach camping permits. Third Beach includes hikes through coastal rainforest, and a challenging descent down to a moody shoreline.
Come during low tide for the most access to the beaches!
- Distance: 3 hikes, ranging from immediate beach access to a 3.8-mile out and back trail.
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Some trails require climbing over huge driftwood logs.
- Location: Olympic National Park, Washington Coast
Rattlesnake Ledge is one of the most popular hiking options out of the Seattle area. Because of its accessibility from the city, this place can get crowded on a summer day, especially on the weekends. Dogs are allowed on the trail with a leash!
Don’t let the crowds deter you, however – the views from the top are iconic to this area. Rain or shine, this is an incredibly beautiful hike. It weaves your through dense forest, brings you to the edge of cliffs, and has a lake at the trailhead for a post-hike dip if you wish.
Don’t miss one of the most essential hikes in the PNW!
- Distance: 4-miles out-and-back. Gradual and constant elevation gain.
- Difficulty: Moderate, with steep cliffs at the top! Be careful and don’t get too close to the edge!
- Location: Snoqualmie Region, 1-hour’s drive East of Seattle, Washington.
Read More: An Local Seattle Hike To Rattlesnake Ledge
It’s fairly easy trail makes it a popular day hike, and the amazing sea stacks and rock formations are the highlights of the trip.
It gets its namesake from the amazing rock structure near the far end of the trail. This literal “hole-in-the-wall” is a walk-through arch that it is photographable from every angle. Just make sure to pay attention to the tide charts for easy and safe access! Personally, we think it’s one of the coolest things to do in Washington state!
Make sure to pack the essentials for the Washington Coast (we list them in this post) and be prepared for that unpredictable weather.
- Distance: 4-miles out-and-back. Little to no elevation gain, walking on sand.
- Difficulty: Easy, but make sure to know the tide times.
- Location: Olympic Peninsula, Pacific Coast (Get our complete road trip itinerary to here!)
Read More: What To Expect Hiking Hole-In-The-Wall
11. Paradise Area – Mt. Rainier
The Paradise Area of Mount Rainier has some of the most beautiful hikes in the Pacific Northwest! I mean, it’s no coincidence that this place is called “Paradise”.
From the gorgeous wildflowers on hikes like Reflection Lakes to the huge, majestic trees on the Grove of Patriarchs, you can come to Mount Rainier National Park time and time again to have a new experience.
While there are a ton of hikes to choose from, we wanted to highlight Nisqually Vista Loop. This trail brings stunning views of Mount Rainier and has wildflowers scattered across the trail. It’s easy enough for the whole family to enjoy too!
Nisqually Vista Loop
- Distance: 1.1-mile loop. Little to no elevation gain, paved walkway.
- Difficulty: Very easy.
- Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State
12. Wahclella Falls
Wahclella Falls is an incredibly scenic Columbia River Gorge Trail in Oregon State. This perfect day hike trail takes you to a spectacular 350-foot two-tiered waterfall that feeds into Tanner Creek that flows to the Columbia River.
Strap on your hiking boots and experience bridges, huge boulders, and the powerful force of Wahclella Falls!
In 2017 this area was hit by a devastating wildfire but is in the process of reopening trails in 2019!
While this particular hike to Wahclella Falls isn’t open quite yet (as of December 2019), keep it on your radar for 2019. Follow this site to get real-time updates and alerts for trail openings and news in this beautiful section of the Northwest.
- Distance: 2.4-miles out-and-back.
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. The trail is clear and alongside a river. Some parts go next to steep walls with a risk of rock slides.
- Location: Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side.
13. Scenic Hot Springs
Unlike many of these Pacific Northwest hikes, this trail is on private property and must be reserved for a specific day. Click here to read about how to reserve this space, and what to expect when hiking to Scenic Hot Springs in Washington.
- Distance: 2-miles(?) out-and-back.
- Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult. Strenuous incline the entire way, and unmarked trails.
- Location: Near Stevens Pass, Washington State.
Read More: Discover Scenic Hot Springs In Washington
14. Picture Lake Trail + Surrounding Area
Want panoramic views without the work? Lucky for you, the Picture Lake Loop on the Mount Baker area provides just that!
During the early spring, summer, and late fall this area of the North Cascades is filled with wildflowers and provides an amazing reflection of Mount Shuksan in the distance. Don’t leave your camera at home – you’ll be snapping pictures the entire way around the lake.
- Distance: 0.5 Mile Loop.
- Difficulty: Very Easy.
- Location: Mount Baker Ski Area, Washington
Read More: 11 Beautiful Hikes In Washington State
15. Sahalie and Koosah Falls
Where can you get two waterfalls for one trail? In Oregon, of course!
This trip to Sahalie and Koosah Falls should be on everyone’s Oregon Bucket List. The loop trail is easy to access (right off of Highway 126) and can easily be a stop on a road trip or a destination in itself.
The viewing platform is also just a short 100 feet boardwalk stretch from the parking lot, making it accessible for all to enjoy!
Either way, you won’t regret stopping by these roaring falls! Sahalie Falls in an impressible 100 foot plummet into the river, and Koosah Falls boasts a 70-foot drop into ice blue waters.
There are plenty of benches along the trail to enjoy the rushing river, waterfalls, and the gorgeous Cascade scenery.
- Distance: 2.6-mile loop trail.
- Difficulty: Easy. The trail is clear and runs next to the McKenzie River.
- Location: Cascade Mountain Range in Central Oregon.
Read More: Hiking At Sahalie And Koosah Falls
16. Toketee Falls
Toketee Falls hike in Oregon is an example of evolution frozen in time (at least for now!). The towering columnar basalt rock formations have been carved down by thousands of years of lava and rushing water, creating a beautiful frame for this famous Oregon falls.
Follow the well-cleared trail to a viewing platform for an easy but rewarding trip. This PNW hike to Toketee Falls is commonly used as a nature trail, bird viewing, and leisurely walks. Umpqua hot springs is also nearby!
- Distance: 0.8-mile out-and-back trail. If you dare, climb down an extremely steep trail to the foot of the falls for an adrenaline rush!
- Difficulty: Easy. The trail is clear and runs next to the McKenzie River.
- Location: Cascade Mountain Range in Central Oregon.
Read More: Things To Do In Umpqua National Forest
17. Cape Disappointment
Cape Disappointment State Park is located in the most southwest corner of Washington state. Within the park, there are several easy hikes to choose from, all ranging from ocean views to rainforest trails.
This is a great place for day hikes if you’re staying in cities like Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon. Better yet, make it part of your road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway!
One of our favorite hikes in this park is the trail to the lighthouse. Here, you’ll experience a secret cove fondly known as Deadman’s Cove, where you’ll find a fond resemblance to the beach on Moonrise Kingdom.
You’re sure to release your inner child searching for marine life in the tide pools here!
- Distance: 2.9-mile out-and-back trail, starting from Waikiki Beach Trailhead and ending at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
- Difficulty: Easy.
- Location: Cape Disappointment State Park, Southwest corner of Washington State
18. Pulaski Tunnel Trail
The Pulaski Tunnel Trail in Idaho is not only a highlight of any North Idaho road trip but the trail has incredible historic significance. The great fire of 1910 ripped through the area, endangering Pulaski and his crew of men on the trail, with the only escape being up the mountain.
You can learn about the story of “Big Ed” Pulaski and how he saved all but six of his 45-men fireman crew by hiding in an old mining tunnel 2.5-miles up the mountain. The many interpretive signs along the trail share pieces of the story as you make the ascent.
The trail follows Placer Creek, provides a waterfall to cool down on a hot summer’s day, and ends at the mouth of the tunnel. Here, you can peer inside (though there are bars at the front to prevent you from going in) and imagine what that fateful event was like!
- Distance: 3.5-mile out-and-back trail.
- Difficulty: Moderate. Constant uphill and parts with considerable incline, with uneven rocks on the trail.
- Location: Wallace, Idaho, in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest
Read More: The Ultimate North Idaho Summer Itinerary
19. God’s Thumb
God’s Thumb Trail is one of the best stops on the Oregon Coast, in the small town of Lincoln City. The scenery is other-worldly with the slanted bluff that suspends right about the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean!
To get to the trail requires careful instructions to avoid trespassing. We’ve written a detailed post about God’s Thumb Trail, and how to follow the right path to make it to “the thumb!”
This trail can be taken any time of year, but be prepared for lots of mud in the winter and spring season. We kind of like the moodiness we captured on a crappy day, so if it’s raining don’t let that deter you from this fun Pacific Northwest hike!
- Distance: 4.6-mile out-and-back trail.
- Difficulty: Moderate. It’s easy to lose the trail, and it can be REALLY muddy in the spring!
- Location: Lincoln City, Oregon along the Oregon Coast
Palouse Falls the state waterfall of Washington. Located on the eastern side of the state, you won’t see the classic rain-soddened forest but rather rolling hills and golden prairies.
Palouse Falls State Park is home to an impressive flood-carved canyon that provides stunning views from any angle. Take one of their many short ADA-accessible trails for amazing views of Palouse Falls and the canyon.
Important Trip Note* some trails in Palouse State Park are “go at your own risk” and often discouraged of use by park rangers. While they are still usable, there is little to no cell service, and any rescue from officials are at the hiker’s expense! We continue to share about these trails to inform readers of the dangers of unofficial trails and help them to make informed decisions about whether to take a risk or not.
- Distance: 1.2-mile out and back trail.
- Difficulty: Trails range from easy to challenging. The overlooks are accessible for almost anyone, the descent to the bottom of the falls is extremely challenging and the path is unkept. Travel at your own risk!
- Location: Palouse Falls State Park
Pacific Northwest Hiking Tips
Hikes in the Pacific Northwest provide a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world. This area has everything from glaciers to rainforests to coast to large cities…and that’s just the beginning! That being said, there are some things to consider before you leave the trailhead…
Wear Good Boots. The quickest way to end a trip is wearing ill-fitting shoes. Make sure to wear durable, maybe even waterproof shoes on these Pacific Northwest Trails. Try breaking in new boots my wearing them around the house and during your errand runs before your trip in the great outdoors.
Prepare For Rain. Chances are, you’ll experience some rain on your visit to the Pacific Northwest. Try and pack a lightweight rain jacket for those times, and embrace the moodiness that it brings!
Leave No Trace. In order to enjoy these Pacific Northwest trails for years to come, please abide by the Leave No Trace Principles.
Pack Light. Pacific Northwest hikes are best enjoyed without the weight of unnecessary items!
Check The Weather. Like stated above, rain is likely any time of year. However, it’s good practice to check things like road conditions, weather, and temperatures before you embark on a trail.
Double Check Your Permits. Some wilderness hikes require permission and possibly payment before starting your hike. Do a little research about your trip and study up on any paperwork or passes you may need to present before your trip.
Watch For Wildlife and Bugs. Bears, goats, cougars, and mosquitoes are all living beings to consider on the trails, especially in the summer months. These creatures are important to consider, especially if you are going to take a multi-day backpacking trip. Brings
Looking for Multi-Day Backpacking Hikes In The Pacific Northwest?
While Berty and I don’t have a lot of experience with overnight backpacking trips, we DO know of some pretty incredible backpacking trails in the PNW. Here are some that are on our backpacking bucket list, which we’ll add resources to later as we check these off our list!
- The Enchantments, Washington
- The West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- South Coast Wilderness Trail,
- The Wonderland Trail, Washington
- The Pacific Crest Trail, California, Oregon, and Washington
- Timberline Trail, Oregon
- Wallowa River Loop, Oregon
- Gothic Basin Trail, Washington
- Hiking to Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia
Want More Pacific Northwest Hiking Ideas?
Read These Posts:
Or, check out our interactive map for even more ideas!
Looking for more PNW inspiration? Follow our Pinterest Boards to see what gets us excited about the Pacific Northwest!