There’s nothing like taking your best friend (two- or four-legged) on a 7-mile hike, talking about life and love, enjoying and being one with nature and taking in the breath-taking views. This is my list of the five most rewarding hikes I’ve done in the PNW (in no particular order).
#1. RATTLESNAKE LEDGE (North Bend, WA)
Since moving here from Hawaii, this was one of the first ever hikes I’ve done solo. It was recommended by a friend, so I drove 40 minutes from North Seattle to the trailhead. It was a clear sunny day in June. When you come to the trailhead, you are greeted by a football-sized Rattlesnake Lake where families and their pups can be found splashing in the water or floating atop it.
This easy 4-mile roundtrip trek took me thru the shade of tall trees. The trail zig-zagged up the mountain on what seemed to me like a hundred switchbacks. This is what makes this hike a recommended hike for beginners. The trail is well maintained and there are no surprising steep inclines. It took me about an hour to get to the top of the ledge and the view was just amazing! The ledge is big enough for a good number of people. This hike can be quite popular in the summer time for those who want a quick jaunt with a great view. Be careful to watch the ledge. You don’t want to be another statistic.
#2. WALLACE FALLS (Gold Bar, WA)
I did Wallace Falls for my Quarter Century celebration. My cousin, his future wife and future best man joined me on this easy 5.6-mile hike. It was REALLY hot that day. My birthday is in July and the weather out in Gold Bar can be pretty hot in the summer time! For those of you who don’t know where Gold Bar is, it’s off Highway 2, about 50 miles northeast of Seattle. That’s an hour and a half drive. But, you will forget the drive once you get to the falls here.
The “reward” here at Wallace Falls is not the view, but the refreshing and cool waterfalls you encounter not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES along this trail. We made it all the way to the upper falls and unabashedly made the jump to cool ourselves off. The hike itself provided great sights and is a fun walk through the woods with great maintenance and fun bridges to cross. Dogs are allowed at Wallace Falls, but they have strict leash rules as pups have been known to be swept away by the falls. I wouldn’t want to see lil Sparky be swept up by the raging waters!
#3. POO POO POINT/West Tiger mountain (Issaquah, WA)
Haha! You said Poo Poo! According to the Washington Trails Association, “The folksy name is a reference to the steam whistle sounds heard throughout the Tigers (mountains) in the early days of logging.” All jokes aside, this hike rewards you with sweeping views of Issaquah and if you’re willing to hike your ‘chute up the mountain, you can paraglide off the side of the mountain. This hike is well-known for paragliders as the views from your glide can be spectacular on a clear day. I arrived with a HUGE Meetup group. (The recommended group size for ANY hike is max 12 people as large groups can be arduous and hard on the environment.) Be sure to get to the trailhead a bit early as parking can be challenging. It’s a 45-minute drive from downtown Seattle.
I would rate this on my personal hiking scale as a moderate hike. There were several times I needed to stop for a break because there are a few parts in the trail where it can get pretty steep. I suggest eating a hearty breakfast and bringing a lot of water with you to keep hydrated. There is a flat area just half a mile before the paragliding jump point where you can stop for the view and have a nice lunch. I’ve spotted maybe one or two park benches up there.
At the jumping area, we stopped for our lunch. As I went to throw away my trash I noticed that there was more trail, but I didn’t get a chance to continue up that trail. The rest of the group was already heading down. This trail is 7.2 miles round trip, so budget about 4 hours to complete it. The day I went it was overcast. I am hoping to get up there on a much nicer day to enjoy the view and maybe continue the adventure up the mountain.
#4. MOUNT WASHINGTON (North Bend, WA)
Mount Washington is the underrated companion to the ever-popular Mount Si in the Snoqualmie Region. Nestled just six miles east of Mount Si, Mount Washington patiently sits waiting to be ventured by happy hikers such as myself. Mount Washington is a humble mountain with incredible 360-degree views at its highest point, 4450 feet. This mountain holds a special place in my heart as I shared it with someone very dear to me. (*you know who you are) The hike started an on-going series of incredible hikes and adventures together! … But, about the hike! ? From the parking lot, you will start at a trail marked with signs for the John Wayne Trail and Twin Falls. This trail meanders for about a tenth of a mile up to a wide gravel logging trail.
Keep going up and about 0.3 miles the start of the trail for Mount Washington will be marked by a rock cairn (rock stacks) and a small wooden sign marked “Mount Washington Trail” nailed to a narrow tree. This is a bit of a longer trail (8.5 miles round trip) so I’d budget about 5-6 hours of hiking time for your day. The day we visited Mount Washington it was cold and overcast in March. I imagine the views being much more breathtaking in late Spring/early Summer. You will not complain about the strenuous trek once you get to the top. If you have a phone with sphere photo capabilities, this is a great opportunity to capture it. Also, be sure to take in the sights of the lakes below. Oh, it was also the first time I saw a Geocache!
#5. TALAPUS + OLLALIE LAKES (Snoqualmie, WA)
Two lakes in one! Yes! This is a whole day hike, so make sure you carve out the whole day to enjoy the amazing views of these lakes. Make your way down I-90 through Snoqualmie Pass and in an hour (from Seattle) you’ll arrive at the trailhead. The trail itself is 6.2 miles round trip and for me that will take about 3.5 hours, but you will want to stop at the lakes and take photos and if it’s warm enough maybe dip your toes in. I’ve heard of people bring their inflatables to lounge about for a bit once there. The highest point is 3780 feet and you get to see several rivers and waterfalls along the way.
Talapus Lake is about 2 miles in. You’ll see it forefronted with fallen trees and logs. It’s a beautiful sight with the mountain in the background straight across the lake. You can declare this as your final destination and have your lunch, or you can trudge ahead another mile toward Ollalie Lake through the trees and if you choose the right time of year you will still find snow on the ground. Be sure you find the right trail. We got turned around on our way there. Upon reaching Ollalie, we were greeted by a snow-covered lake glistening in the sun. I sat taking in the bright sight. You will love this one!
I hope you liked my list. There is still SO MUCH to discover here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and certainly A LOT more I can add to this list!
Do you have a favorite rewarding hike of your own? I’d love to hear about it! Not limited to Washington State. I’m hoping to trek/hike/camp/backpack the many majestic trails and mountains of the world!
Born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, Tristanne moved to Seattle, WA after 22 years to gain more experience and expand her horizons. She wanted more than the island life and fell in love with the outdoors that the Pacific Northwest had to offer. She’s an avid hiker and an aspiring traveler and photographer. After visiting Guatemala in October of 2015, her wanderlust engulfed her and she’s currently planning her next adventure. In the meantime, she explores her beloved PNW going on as many hikes and backpacking trips as possible whilst capturing its beauty in her photos. Her site is http://misstrisonthemove.com/.