It can be hard to put the raw beauty of the Pacific Northwest into words. No matter how emphatic your inflection, “cool” and even “awesome” fall entirely flat the first time your pupils take in a mammoth glacier surrounded by brilliant wildflowers and crystal clear water. Experiencing this glorious region of the country via foot is really the only way to fully enjoy nature’s murderer’s row of masterpieces, too.
If you’re ready for the hike of your life, pack your bags for the PNW and peep our five favorite spots to blaze a trail in Oregon and Washington.
Mount Rainier National Park, Ashford, Washington
An iconic part of Washington’s landscape, this active volcano makes for an amazing day hike with more than 260 miles to explore. The old-growth forest, network of glaciers, and wildflowers galore offer plenty to gaze at.
Three Sisters Loop, Blue River, Oregon
If you’re backpack-ready, this 50-mile loop is unforgettable. Geologic wonders abound, with volcanic landscapes, pumice meadows, and more. One of Oregon’s best long backpacking trips.
Goat Rocks Wilderness, Washington
Delivering spectacular views of Mount St. Helens, Rainier, and Adams, this trek runs about 13 miles. It’s a perfect step-up for day hikers who are ready to spend a couple of days surrounded by mesmerizing mountain vistas and yes, maybe some wild goats too.
Sky Lakes Wilderness, Oregon
Like lakes? You’ll be in love while traversing this 6,000-foot plateau. The Wilderness is home to more than 200 pools of water, from small ponds to large lakes, and some of them have been found to have the most chemically pure (lake) water in the world. Salut!
Hoh River Trail, Forks, Washington
Americans mostly need to go abroad to experience rainforests, but this 17-mile trail with a temperate rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula is an exception. It’s a mostly flat hike through Olympic National Park, with a glacial river fed by the big bergs – such as Blue Glacier - on Mount Olympus.