The Pacific Northwest is known for dense forests, old barns, great cities and great hiking. Even better, Bigfoot is more than just legend amid the mountains and temperate rain forests here. But if you get off the beaten path and still can’t find him, you’ll certainly find a cozy place for coffee in a quirky town after making the trek into the wilderness. We’ve put together four hikes that will give a good taste of what hiking Washington has to offer.
West Cady Ridge to Benchmark Mountain
This 14.4-mile roundtrip hike in the Cascades offers a nice uphill gaining 3,700 feet in elevation on a wide tread that lets you take in the scenery. You’ll walk through tall trees until the two mile mark when the tree line gives way to thin huckleberry and mountain ash. Next you’re walking across heather meadows, with grand views of surrounding peaks. Once you hit the 3.8 mile mark, the trail crests at a knoll, creating a perfect spot to break and enjoy the views of Kyes, Columbia, and other Monte Cristo peaks. But if you go no further it would be a shame, and an insult to the spirit of Edward Abbey. To continue means a relaxing ridge walk, and at 5.5 miles you’ll be at 5,379 feet. But keep going. There’s more to see.
Heather Lake near Lake Wenatchee
This 6.5-mile roundtrip hike starts at the edge of an old clear-cut, and immediately enters a forest of giant old growth. It’s 1,250-feet in elevation gain is magnificent. The first mile is essentially flat, and at 1.5 miles the bridge spanning Lake Creek is fantastic, affording a great view of the gorge. Next, as you enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and finally begin climbing, watch out for the huckleberries and enjoy a small ledge that gives a good glimpse out to Labyrinth Mountain, and then continue the climb.
Whistler Canyon Trail
Out east in Washington the hiking is done under bigger skies, and at the 24-mile roundtrip Whistler Canyon you can expect to see big horn sheep, bears and marmots, and maybe even a wild turkey. The trail is a part of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. This 12-mile trail is located 3 miles south of Oroville WA, and connects to the Wilcox Mountain trailhead. Here you can go long or short, opting for the 12 mile roundtrip to Wilcox Mountain, or on the Frog Pond trail, a half day to Diamond Lake. Here you can enjoy horseback riding, rock climbing or trekking.
Another Eastern hike, this 22-mile roundtrip starts out nice and gets progressively more difficult, but the views make the whole effort worthwhile. Table Rock is a flat-topped ridge crest that is home to an old, still-used fire lookout tower. Due west of the lookout is the untouched Mill Creek watershed, a deep forested basin that has been protected and placed off-limits to all–this watershed provides the drinking water for the Walla Walla area.