Aug. 8, 2019
Summer is hiking season in the Pacific Northwest. The snow has melted in many areas, and even at higher elevations, the trails are accessible and well groomed. Take a break from your summer projects and take your family or friends out for a hike. Our team gathered together this list of favorites. The Washington Trails Association provides detailed information about each hike. This website is a gem, and made us experts! We were educated about the history of each trail, and the site has so much useful information like elevation gain, and roundtrip miles. Links are in place to help you learn more about each hike. Enjoy!
1) Gold Creek Pond – This is more of a walk than a hike, but perfect for toddlers and great-grandparents. Wheelchair accessible, this is a paved path meanders through trees and over a marsh. Enjoy watching beavers at work and bring a picnic. Just one mile once around the pond.
2) Heather Lake – After taking your kids on a few relatively easy flat trails, this hike is the real deal, complete with more elevation gain (1350), and rugged terrain. It's the just right hike for cutting your “hiking teeth.” While the trail is short, it is steep and somewhat challenging. Once you make it to the lake, you will be greeted with views of Mount Pilchuck. Perfect for your picnic lunch! Just 4.5 miles roundtrip.
3) Lake 22 – An oasis of old growth, rainforest, and wetlands located in the North Cascades. Wear appropriate footwear, as this can be a somewhat soggy hike with many creeks to cross during the melt. So, how did this hike get this funny name? It turns out that nineteenth-century railroad maps listed local creeks numerically; one particular creek and its source lake were assigned “22.” The name stuck, and in 1947 the 790-acre Lake Twenty Two Research Natural Area (RNA) was created. 5.4 miles roundtrip.
4) Denny Creek – Lovingly referred to as the “Slippery Slab” hike by a fellow team member, this hike is perfect for families, as the gentle grade leads you to a natural granite water slide. Dog friendly, and some of the nicest folks you will ever meet picnic at the slab. This hike is a 4th of July tradition for many families. 6 miles, roundtrip.
5) Lime Kiln Trail – This trail runs along what was once a railroad line, which makes it a relatively level hike with just an elevation gain of 625 feet. Named for the large kiln that still stands, where lime was once produced from the local limestone. The communities that were once along the trail are now gone, but if you look closely you can still find a few artifacts. A buddy of mine once found some great old broken dishes. 7 miles, roundtrip.
6) Lake Serene – One of the most popular hikes in the Pacific Northwest, for good reason! It is easy to get to, and the views at Bridal Veil Falls are incredible. Since this is an accessible popular hike, the parking lot can fill quickly. Our team considers this a weekday hike for a little more solitude and a spot in the parking lot. But again, hikers are some of the friendliest folks you will ever meet. 7.2 miles roundtrip.
7) Snow Lake – Touted as the most popular hike in the Pacific Northwest, we again consider this a weekday hike. If you make it all the way to the lake, you will be richly rewarded with views of Snow Lake and Roosevelt Peak. It is only 7.5 miles roundtrip, but if you want to turn it into a gentle hike for kids and grandparents, there is a perfect spot at the 1.75 mile point to enjoy the views, then turn around and go back.
8) Lake Annette – This nicely groomed trail meanders through waterfalls, meadows full of wildflowers, forests, and offers mountain views and an alpine lake. Plan ample time to enjoy the lake before you turn back. Better yet, hike in and stay at one of the well-maintained campsites. This hike crosses the famous Iron Horse Trail. At 8.2 miles roundtrip, this is a good candidate for an overnight.
9) Mailbox – A funny name for a great hike. There are two Mailbox hikes. The old trail is just over 4 miles long and challenging, as your elevation gain in that short distance is 4000 feet. Think mountain climbing. Challenging. A bit of danger. The new trail is 9.4 miles, and while it is still steep and challenging, there is a little less danger. Enjoy forests and meadows before you arrive at Mailbox Peak, where yes, there really is a mailbox, and other fun weird stuff people have hauled to the top. Like a fire hydrant.
10) Summerland Trail – Our list would not be complete without a hike near Mount Rainier. This 12 mile roundtrip hike begins in an old-growth forest, and opens up onto meadows full of wildflowers. The trail continues along the highest section of the Wonderland Trail to reach Panhandle Gap. Enjoy the whistle of marmots and the occasional mountain goat.
We made you a chart. Post it on your fridge and enjoy a hike!