Trip Finder: Northwest

Your favorite Northwest hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.

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Indian paintbrush on the Timberline Trail (Blaine Franger)

Indian paintbrush on the Timberline Trail (Blaine Franger)

Reader Expert Terence Lewis (Courtesy Photo)

Reader Expert Terence Lewis (Courtesy Photo)



WILDLIFE Indian Racetrack, WA

Native Americans gathered huckleberries and, yes, raced horses in this meadow on the western edge of Indian Heaven Wilderness. Even today, you can clearly see the racetrack where riders competed; it’s a long, straight rut in the middle of the meadow. Start the five-miler at Indian Racetrack trailhead, says Derek Pettie (above), and watch the forest fringes for elk, blacktail deer, and black bears (they like huckleberries, too). Peak berry season is mid-August to mid-September.

WATERFALLS Comet Falls-Van Trump Park, WA

With both a 300-foot waterfall to gape at and a summer wildflower explosion to linger over, you’ll want to budget plenty of downtime for this 5.8-mile round-trip in Mt. Rainier National Park. From the trailhead four miles east of Longmire (on the road to Paradise), climb two miles to thundering Comet Falls. Then continue up another thousand feet to bloom-filled Van Trump Park, where monkey flowers, avalanche lily, lupine, and glacial lilies thrive from mid-July to mid-August.


This steep, 4.2-miler in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will leave you breathless in more ways than one, says Terence Lewis (above). From the trailhead on Sauk Mountain Road, scale switchbacks to the 5,330-foot summit, where Indian paintbrush, phlox, tiger lilies, and columbine turn the hillsides purple and orange in July. On clear days, enjoy a 360-degree view that encompasses the North Cascades, Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound, and the distant San Juan Islands.



WILDLIFECascade Pass-Sahale Arm Trail, WA

Head to the southwest corner of North Cascades National Park for a 12.5-miler with high-alpine scenery and wildlife to match—including mountain goats, marmots, pika, and black bears. From Cascade Pass trailhead, gain 1,800 feet in 3.7 miles. Then climb another 1,800 feet to Sahale Glacier Camp at 7,200 feet. Full disclosure: This route is one of the most popular in the park, but totally worth it for the top-of-the-world views. For the best chance at solitude, go in early October.

WATERFALLSFall Creek-Green Lakes, OR

Pass a succession of waterfalls and wildflower meadows on this wooded, well-maintained, 8.4-mile out-and-back in the Three Sisters Wilderness (Oregon’s second largest). Hike along Fall Creek—almost always within earshot of a waterfall—and then cross creekside meadows riddled with bubbling rivulets before the final climb to your camp at Green Lakes. Views of snow-capped South Sister and Broken Top appear to the north; look south to spot Mt. Bachelor.


Experience both the wet west side and drier east side of the Olympics—and vibrant wildflower displays from late June to early July—on this 10.6-mile hike in Olympic National Forest. Cimb through lush fir and hemlock along the Big Quilcene River to Marmot Pass, then cross the wide-open saddle to the east side, says Lewis. Spend the night at Camp Mystery, a backcountry site located just below the pass, with prime views east toward Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.



Summit Lake Loop, CA

Lassen Volcanic National Park is known for its geology, but sparse crowds also make it a prime place to see bears, mule deer, and the elusive marten. See animals—and hit six lakes—on this 17.5-mile loop. From the Summit Lake trailhead, hike southeast to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Follow the PCT northeast through the Grassy Swale, a long, flower-filled meadow frequented by hummingbirds. On the third day, wind around Rainbow Lake, Lower and Upper Twin Lakes, and Echo Lake.

WATERFALLSEagle Creek-Tanner Butte Loop, OR

Earmark at least three days for this challenging 25-mile loop in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. From the Eagle Creek trailhead, you’ll gain 4,300 feet and link a series of waterfalls, including Punch Bowl Falls, which drops 25 feet into a wooded grotto, and 175-foot Tunnel Falls (named for the tunnel blasted behind the cascade). Sleep at 7½ Mile Campsite, less than a mile south of Tunnel Falls. Night two: Camp at Dublin Lake, a small pool located three miles north of Tanner Butte.

WILDFLOWERSMt. Hood Timberline Trail, OR

Four solid days of kaleidoscopic wildflower displays? Believe it. This 36-mile point-to-point—from Cooper Spur to Elk Cove—rolls through glacier-melt-fed meadows ablaze with Indian paintbrush and purple lupine. (This route skips parts of the trail that were damaged in the 2006 blowout below Eliot Glacier). Extra time? You’ll be circumnavigating 11,249-foot Mt. Hood. Why not climb it? (Tackle the South Side route with beta at


Terence Lewis, 26, of Port Orchard, Washington, beelines to the Olympics most weekends. “Never underestimate the unpredictable weather,” he says. “Always carry raingear.”

Portland, Oregon, resident Derek Pettie, 37, packs Green Trails Maps when hiking in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. “Trail networks can be confusing here, so an accurate map is a must.”