Hiking in the PNW

Michaela Ely, Webmaster

As summer turns into fall and fall eventually progresses into winter, the temperatures get colder and many will begin to leave their house less often. 

However, it is still important to get outside and exercise, and one of the best ways to do so is hiking. One gets to go outside and find great views and explore parts of Washington that maybe you haven’t before.

Noble Knob is a hike in Mt. Baker National Forest that has an elevation gain of 950 feet and is five miles round trip. On your way up, you will see several lakes and walk next to a pretty large cliff, so you should bring poles if you’re not sure of your balance. Dogs are also allowed in Mt. Baker National Forest so you can exercise your dog while you exercise yourself.

Snoqualmie Falls is an extremely popular hike that is also fairly easy. There is an elevation gain of 250 feet and is 1.4 miles round trip. This would be a good hike for beginners or if you wanted to bring some younger siblings along.

Reflection Lakes is a beautiful but difficult hike. There are three separate trails you could use to get there, but the easiest is Narada Falls to Reflection Lakes. It has an elevation gain of 1150 feet and is five miles round trip. However, because it is in Mt. Rainier National Park, it is often covered in snow and dogs are not allowed. 

Rattlesnake Ledge is another heavily trafficked and popular hike. It is also a rather difficult hike with an elevation gain of 1160 feet and is four miles round trip. Unfortunately, the city of Seattle manages this trail and has closed it for the time being. However, when it reopens, it’s a good hike to do year round and also a great choice for a sunrise hike.

Lena Lake is in the Olympic Peninsula and is a hike for pretty much every type of hiker. It is a bit longer at 7.2 miles round trip, but the elevation gain of 1300 feet is much more gradual. It can get a bit muddy when it rains, but wearing waterproof shoes will prevent your feet from getting completely soaked. There are quite a few switchbacks at the beginning, but it does help lessen the impact of the elevation gain on your muscles.

Franklin Falls is another beginner hike that is near the Denny Creek hike in Mt. Baker National Forest. It is two miles round trip with an elevation gain of 400 feet which makes it an easier hike. The entire way to the waterfall is beautiful as you walk next to the river for most of the hike. The last bit of the hike before the waterfall is a bit more difficult, but only because the end is very rocky and the mist from the falls makes those rocks very slippery, so make sure your shoes have good traction.

Tolmie Peak is a hike that has a stop at Eunice Lake and ends at an old fire lookout. It is 7.5 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of 1100 feet, with a decent part at the end going up to the fire lookout. Most of the hike is pretty gradual but the end is much steeper. During the summer and fall there is a bit of a bug problem so definitely bring bug spray.

Denny Creek is a hike with natural waterslides in the summer and sometimes the early fall. The hike is six miles round trip and has an elevation gain of 1345 feet, however the elevation gain is very gradual. The waterslides are only about a mile in so you could easily choose to turn around early. There are also a couple waterfalls on the trail that are visible if you go a bit further. 

Although cold temperatures and coronavirus may keep everyone inside more often this fall, it is still important to keep going outdoors, get fresh air and exercise. These hikes provide a fairly local and enjoyable activity for everyone, regardless of experience or age.