While 81% of the forests in the eastern US are privately owned, over 70% of forestland in the west is open to the public.
What does this mean for you, the savvy traveler? If you’re seeking true natural beauty and some of the best hiking in the US, there’s only one area to go. The Pacific Northwest.
Pacific Northwest hiking is not only the best in the country–some would argue it’s among the best in the world. Once you’ve sampled all the great things to do in Seattle, it’s time to explore the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest (PNW).
So dust off your hiking boots, grab your gear, and get ready to discover the 8 best day hikes around Washington and Oregon. Let’s dive in!
1. Paradise Park Loop (Mt. Hood, OR)
For epic views of Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak, take the 12-mile Paradise Park Loop that begins at Timberline Lodge.
This moderately difficult day hike offers jaw-dropping views of Mount Hood, fields full of lupine and other wildflowers, and a chance to explore the appropriately named Zigzag Canyon.
If you don’t have much time and would like to experience a little bit of everything, this is the day hike for you. Located just a little over an hour east of Portland, it’s also very easy to get to.
2. Naches Peak Loop Trail (Mt. Rainier, WA)
If you want to experience some great views on a shorter, moderately-easy hike, head for this 4.5-mile trail on the outskirts of Mount Rainier National Park.
This short scenic trail connects with the famous Pacific Crest Trail (and is a great alternative to the longer jaunt). Along the way, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and plenty of wildflowers in bloom in the spring.
You’ll find the trailhead along State Road 410, about 2 hours southeast of Seattle.
3. Trail of Ten Falls (Silver Falls State Park, OR)
Are you a waterfall aficionado? If so, you’ve got to hike the Trail of Ten Falls between Silverton and Sublimity, Oregon.
Located in the aptly named Silver Fall State Park, this moderately difficult 10-mile loop takes you past an impressive 10 waterfalls. A few of the falls cascade well over 100 feet!
Even cooler? You have the chance to climb behind four of the waterfalls, offering a truly unique hiking experience (and great photo ops). #waterfallbeauty
You’ll enter the park and locate the trailhead about an hour and a half south of Portland.
4. Hoh River Trail (Olympic National Park, WA)
Want to try an easy hike through a temperate rainforest? Yep, this is an actual rainforest and beware, it’s amazing. Head west to Olympic National Park (about 4.5 hours’ drive from Seattle) and hike part of the 17-mile long Hoh River Trail. Our suggestion for a low-budget accommodations along the way is to stop in the scenic Ocean Shores.
This gorgeous park receives over 14 feet of rain every year, blanketing the region with mossy trees and lush green ferns. It’s also home to the quietest place in all of America, known as One Square Inch of Silence.
While the trail ends at the foot of Mount Olympus, you don’t have to take it all the way to the end. A day hike of 5-8 miles will still give you a great overview of the coastal rainforest.
5. Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor (Oregon)
At the far southern end of Oregon, just before you cross into California, you’ll find a 12-mile stretch of coastline teeming with trails to explore.
Jagged rock formations and craggy islands make up this spectacular stretch of the ocean’s shore. The short loop out to Natural Bridges Cove is easy to hike and offers great views of stone arches and blowholes.
For a more challenging hike, try the Cape Sebastian Trail or the Secret Beach Trail which (you guessed it) leads to a secret beach.
Expert tip: Be sure to bring a good rain jacket, as the weather is wildly unpredictable in this region!
6. Rattlesnake Ledge Trail (Washington)
Just 40 miles east of Seattle lies one of the most popular day hikes in the PNW–and for good reason!
Rattlesnake Ledge sits high above Rattlesnake Lake is well worth the 4-mile round-trip hike to the top. You’ll gain 1,100 vertical feet in 2 miles, so you may have to stop for a few breaks along the way. #bringwater
The trail is well-maintained and popular on weekends, especially for hikers with dogs. If you’re craving some solitude, try visiting midweek for thinner crowds.
7. Mount Storm King (Olympic National Park, WA)
If you’re up for a serious challenge, this 4.5-mile hike in Olympic National Park will deliver.
In just over 2 miles, you’ll ascend a staggering 2,100 vertical feet. This means the trail is steep and difficult and full of switchbacks. In some places, there are even climbing ropes to help you keep your balance.
Is the effort worth it? Absolutely! When you get to the top, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of Lake Crescent and, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a glimpse into Canada.
The trailhead starts and ends at Storm King Ranger Station just past Port Angeles.
8. Oregon Badlands Wilderness, Oregon
Just east of Bend, Oregon, you’ll find a unique landscape seemingly untouched by time.
These badlands feature unusual cracked ridges formed by underground pressure from the nearby Badlands Volcano. More than 50 miles of trails wind through the region, providing the chance to see antelope, falcons, and yellow-bellied marmots.
A climb to the top of Badlands Rock Trail will reward you with 360-degree views of the area and is so worth it.
The Best PNW Day Hikes: Now You Know
So, which of these amazing day hikes will you try first?
Whichever one you choose, don’t forget your camera and tag @cleverneighbor on Instagram! You’re sure to snag a few epic photos to frame on your wall at home.
Are you lucky enough to visit the Pacific Northwest during the autumn months? Click here to discover the best areas for fall colors. Happy hiking!