a hiker traverses in the peaks of the north cascades

These Top 15 Summer Hikes in Washington Will Leave You Stunned

The best place to spend summer is hiking in Washington state. Our long days, near-perfect weather, and beautiful landscapes create a trifecta that is hard to beat! It’s why I was so excited to finally call Washington home in 2022. This place has few rivals, and as someone who loves to hike, I was excited to dive into the summer hikes in Washington!

I’ve had the opportunity to hike in all of these areas and can firmly say these trails will be an incredible introduction to hiking in Washington. Thank you for reading. Drop me a line once you’ve done some of these, and let me know what you think!

(See my best of the best hikes and my top fall hikes.

Beautiful Summer Hikes in Washington You Can’t-Miss

Let’s dive into these epic hikes in Washington to tackle this summer.

Silver Peak

Drone shot of silver peak with mount rainier in the background
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: This isn’t a super well-known trail, which means the crowds should be at a minimum. My buddy and I did this on a Friday night and saw two other groups and ended up having the windy summit to our selves!

Once you’re at the top, you’ll have epic views of Mount Rainier to the South and Stuart Peak to the North. It was quite a shocking view. (In a good way!)

Insider tip: If you go in August, there will be some really pretty wildflowers on the slopes near the top. They’re a great place to break for a bit and get some good photos!

  • Distance: 5.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass

Lake Valhalla

looking down on lake valhalla from above
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: For the first 3/4s of a mile, you’ll have some steady switchbacks that bring you to the PCT. But once you’re on the famous trail, it’s a mellow ascent to the lake. This one’s great for the entire family and one of my favorite summer hikes in Washington!

Insider tip: There are two access points, but I recommend the one via the forest service road and not starting from Stevens Pass. If you do the latter, you’ll double your hiking distance. (Want to ditch the crowds, head up towards Mount McCausland.)

  • Distance: 6.3 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass

Barclay Lake

hiking to barclay lake photography washington
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: This one’s super easy and great for the entire family. And the views at the end, with the massive Barring Mountain above you, are incredibly photogenic.

Insider tip: For photography, bring your widest lens or use your iPhone’s wide-angle setting to capture the mountain above and the reflection below. While many people stop once you get to the lake, keep going counterclockwise for another couple hundred yards. You’ll find more solitude and a better angle of the lake.

  • Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 225 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Highway 2

Hurricane Ridge

hurricane ridge olympic national park

Why it’s a great hike: This offers the best bang-for-your-buck views of the Olympic Range. After your car does almost all the work, all you have to do is mosey on up the mostly paved trail to the top of Hurricane Hill for incredible views of the mountains and, if it’s a clear day, Mount Baker, too!

Insider tip: Watch for wildlife. I’ve seen deer sunbathing in the area multiple times.

  • Distance: Varies (most popular is the Hurricane Hill trail at 3.2 miles round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Location: Olympic National Park

Rampart Lakes

views of rampart lakes from above in the alpine lakes wilderness
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: This one’s on the harder side of things, but it’s a great chance to get into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. While I recommend backpacking it, if you’re looking for a long day hike, Rampart Lakes is phenomenal.

Insider tip: Half the trail is basically flat, and then you start a pretty steep climb up to Rachel Lake and then Rampart Lakes above that. If you just want to be in the forest for an easy stroll, turn around once the uphill starts.

  • Distance: 10.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass

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Cascade Pass

hikers walk on the trail towards cascade pass in the north cascades national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: This is the most popular hike in North Cascades National Park, and for good reason. The views are simply amazing. I remember the first time I did this in 2017, and I couldn’t believe the sights! This is a must-do for summer hikes in Washington!

Insider tip: Keep going uphill past Cascade Pass (to the left). After a mile or so, you’ll get views of Doubtful Lake and dozens of more jagged peaks. If you still have energy (and water), hike up Sahale Arm towards Sahale Glacier Camp. It’s home to the best views in Washington.

  • Distance: 7.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: North Cascades National Park

Blue Lake

the deep blue water of blue lake in the north cascades
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: This one has a pretty gradual ascent up and is simply gorgeous in summertime. I remember it being incredibly green with lots of flowers. Then, the view of the lake *chefs kiss*. You’re going to be dazzled!

Insider tip: This is one of the better fall hikes in Washington, and it gets QUITE crowded! Be prepared for crowds. If you can, visit during the week or come for sunset.

  • Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,050 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Highway 20

Fremont Lookout

Visiting Mount Rainier National Park Fremont Lookout Hike Sunrise
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: Epic views of Rainier. A fire lookout. Stunning sights to the north. It’s one of the perfect hikes in Washington and a must-do for anyone visiting Mount Rainier National Park.

Insider tip: Don’t expect to be alone up here. It’s the most popular hike in the area, and many people show up for sunset. If you want a little more alone time, head up for sunrise. It shouldn’t take you more than 75 minutes to get up.

And remember that Mount Rainier has a timed entry system in place for this area. (If you arrive before 7 a.m. or after 3 p.m., you’re all good!)

  • Distance: 5.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park (timed entry pass now in place for summer months)

Skyline Loop Trail

skyline trail loop mt rainier national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: There are few better summer and fall hikes in the state of Washington. During summer, you get what you see above – a sea of flowers. It’s friggin fantastic! And then, in the falls, the bushes turn a deep red, and it’s simply magical.

Insider tip: I recommend going counterclockwise and stopping by Myrtle Falls. This route is slightly less crowded, and the uphill section is more gradual.

  • Distance: 5.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park (timed entry pass now in place for summer months)

Shi Shi Beach

big rock formations at shi shi beach set it apart
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: Of all the hikes on this list, this is the least crowded. You’re tucked away at the upper corner of the state where few venture. But the views are magical and you’ll have one of the top beaches in Washington to yourself.

Insider tip: The two miles in the forest is MUDDY! Wear waterproof boots or something that you can be okay getting wet. Better yet, wear some sort of duck boots to keep you dry as you hike to Shi Shi Beach.

  • Distance: 8 miles round trip out to Point of Arches (or four miles round trip to the beach)
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal (about 200 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Olympic National Park

Ptarmigan Ridge

A hiker walks on the trail with a large mountain behind him.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: A longer hike that gets you closer to Baker with unobstructed views! If you’re looking to travel a slightly less popular trail, this is it!

Insider tip: While everyone’s making Chain Lakes Loop, you’ll lose 90% of the crowds at the junction as you head towards Baker, and everyone meanders towards Iceberg Lake. Remember that due to the amount of snow that gets dumped here, this is one of those summer hikes in Washington that don’t really start until mid-July.

  • Distance: 9 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Mount Baker area

Winchester Mountain

jagged peaks of the north cascades
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: Few places in Washington allow you to drive up and see epic views like this. The hike is pretty short and moderately difficult, meaning you won’t have to work too hard to soak it all in. I think this is one of the top places to enjoy a sunset in the state.

Insider tip: The road up is terrible and requires high clearance and AWD/4×4. It’s also narrow and steep, so be prepared to take it slow. Ideally, you should go on a weekday to avoid other cars on the road.

  • Distance: 3.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: North Cascades

Snoqualmie Mountain

Why it’s a great hike: Oh boy! This is one steep and tiring hike. But it’s short, so the pain is only short-lived. From the top, you’ll have similar views to Silver Peak, but you should have Baker views on a clear day. A lot of people use this as a training trail for their summer hikes in Washington.

Insider tip: This is a hard, hard hike but the views are incredibly worth it. Just expect it to take longer than you expect.

  • Distance: 3.9 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass

Summit Lake Trail

a view of summit lake and mt rainier
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: This hike is pretty mellow and, at the top, offers incredible views of Mount Rainier. (See above.) It’s also a perfect entry to a backpacking trail as the lower lake area is only 2.5 miles and offers tons of places to camp with easy water access.

Insider tip: You need a high clearance car, or this road, and AWD/4×4 will make it even better. It’s a truly terrible road!

  • Distance: 6.1 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Central Cascades

Hoh Rainforest

the hall of mosses trail in the hoh rainforest
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Why it’s a great hike: The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the US and offers dozens of miles of hiking in Olympic National Park. The best bang for your buck section is the Hall of Mosses Trail – but that’s also where everyone goes.

Insider tip: If you want to ditch the crowds, walk 2+ miles on the Hoh Trail, and you’ll lose everyone!

  • Distance: Varies (most popular is the Hall of Mosses at 1 mile round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Olympic National Park

Five Tips for Summer Hikes in Washington

  1. Expect Crowds: People will flock here from all over to see the sights. Expect this and plan accordingly. With our long days, you can do evening hikes and have almost no one else on the trail.
  2. Bring a rain jacket just in case: Mountains can create their own weather and even if it doesn’t look like it might get wet, it’s better to be prepared than to be soaking wet.
  3. What Pass Do I Need? If you’re on federal land (national forest/national park), you need the America the Beautiful Pass. If you’re at a state park or state land, get the Discover Pass.
  4. Highway 2 traffic is TERRIBLE on Sundays: Expect an extra 40 minutes to be added to your drive coming back from the Leavenworth area if you go this route.
  5. Summer starts July 4: This is a classic saying, but it’s sort of true. By the beginning of July, many trails are just melting out, and the weather is finally clearing up. Do not expect to come and tackle epic trails in June.

Final Thoughts on These Summer Hikes in Washington

Spanning the most stunning portions of Washington and across the spectrum in difficulty, these awesome summer hikes in Washington will give you plenty of places to adventure while the days are long and the weather is glorious. I’m so stoked you are exploring these natural beauties for yourself!

Make sure to Leave No Trace as you hike and leave these places better than you found them.

Until next time, adventurers, stay safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside