Walking is a natural activity with many health and mental benefits. So is hiking. Hiking offers all the health and other benefits associated with walking. Think of hiking as walking with attitude. In the Great Outdoors.
Here are 15 Pacific Northwest trail options to get you started.
Sheep Lake: About 4.2 miles RT. Climb for the first mile or so on this out-and-back trail, but the grade is gentle and not steep. A great choice for rookie hikers or families with young children. Just outside Mount Rainier National Park boundaries at Chinook Pass.
Anderson and Watson Lakes: About 6 miles RT. North Cascades, in the Mount Baker area. A series of lovely backcountry lakes surrounded by stunning North Cascade peaks in the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness.
Indian Henry’s via Kautz Creek (West side): 14+ miles RT (with Mirror Lake option)
It’s a lot of miles up The Ridge That Just Won’t Die, and it’s pushing the envelope for “day hike.” But if your legs are up for a challenge, this trek to a rustic patrol cabin nestled atop a picturesque mountain meadow is one of the finest back country hikes in Mount Rainier National Park.
It includes eye-popping vistas, dense forest, gurgling streams, lush mountain meadows, craggy peaks and outrageous wildflower fields. There are even a few choice lunch spots where you can clamber onto some rocky outcroppings, survey the Cowlitz River Valley, and stuff your lungs back into your chest.
After climbing the Ridge From Hell, the trail emerges along the south flank of Mount Ararat. It meanders through a series of meadows and up another ridge before descending to the ranger cabin in the meadows of Indian Henry’s.
Be sure to visit Mirror Lake, about a mile past the log cabin. The spur trail is well marked and worth the extra effort.
Steamboat Rock – Central Washington, Grand Coulee. About 6 miles RT. This hunk of rock in Banks Lake is a distinct example of massive Ice Age floods 15,000 years ago. Explore the geology and admire the unparalleled views. Discover Pass required.
Quinault River-Pony Bridge-Enchanted Valley – 5 miles RT. On the Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park. The trail to Pony Bridge begins at the end of Graves Creek Road. Moss draped trees, a rushing river. Keep an eye out for bear and elk. Lots of options for turn-arounds.
Portland area: Holman Lane Loop Hike – 2.3 miles. Quick loop at the southern fringes of Forest Park.
Gresham: Jenne Butte Hike – 3.3 miles. Hike around a forested cinder cone with two summits.
Lake Oswego: William Stafford-Kincaid Curlicue Hike – 3.4 miles. Walk to the William Stafford Stones and then on part of the Iron Heritage Trail.
Fairview-Troutdale: Blue Lake Park Loop Hike – 2.0 miles. A pleasant loop in a popular park with a natural area on its west end.
Corvallis: Avery Park Loop Hike – Leafy loop around a bend in the Marys River.
Silver Falls State Park – Located roughly half an hour from Salem, Silver Falls State Park is known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Park system. It is magnificent! About nine miles round trip, the Trail of Ten Falls is a must-see, even if you just section hike.
Silver Creek Preserve – This easy, mostly level trail starts below the visitor center and meanders through tall, marshy grass, lush trees, and along Silver Creek. Keep an eye out for wildlife! The trail itself is longer than 5 miles, but has plenty of opportunities to turn around.
Roosevelt Ancient Cedars Loop – In North Idaho. A one-mile loop trail from the lower cedar grove takes you to vista points above the Lower falls where both Lower and Upper Granite Falls may be viewed. Continue another 1/2 mile and you will arrive at the upper cedar grove, home to cedar trees that are between 800 and 2,000 years old…
Mineral Ridge – the 3.3 mile Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail loop winds along the shores of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. Elev gain: 700 feet.
Fourth of July Lake – 3.6 miles. A moderately trafficked out and back trail nestled in the Sawtooth National Forest near Stanley, Idaho. Featuring a lake and a scenic meadow. Dogs and horses okay.
Now. Who’s ready to lace up and get started?