Moon Pacific Northwest Hiking
Best Hikes plus Beer, Bites, and Campgrounds Nearby
By Craig Hill
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- Diverse Hiking Options: Whether you plan to take breathtaking coastal walks in Oregon or challenging treks around Mount Rainier, enjoy outdoor getaways ranging from easy day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips
- Find Your Hike: Looking for something specific? Choose from strategic lists of the best hikes for waterfalls, wildflowers, bringing your dog, and more, plus a breakdown of the best hikes by season
- The Top Outdoor Experiences: Wander through the damp, dense greens of a rainforest in Olympic National Park or revel in a Mars-like red rock landscape in southeastern Oregon. Watch an orange sunset on a beach adorned with sea stacks or gaze into the mouth of a volcano crater. Catch a glimpse of a bighorn sheep, see actual wagon ruts on the historic Oregon Trail, and stroll through fields of wildflowers. Walk behind a waterfall or take in unbridled views of the downtown Portland skyline
- Nearby Fun: Kick back at a local brewery after your hike, find a nearby campground for a night under the stars, or enjoy a plate fresh oysters with an ocean view
- Essential Planning Details: Each hike is described in detail and marked with round-trip distance and hiking time, difficulty, terrain type, elevation gain, and access points
- Maps and Directions: Find easy-to-use maps, driving directions to each trailhead, and details on where to park
- Expert Advice: Seasoned hikers Craig Hill and Matt Wastradowski reveal their experienced insights, local secrets, and honest opinions of each trail
- Tips and Tools: Advice on gear, first aid, and camping permits, plus background information on climate, landscape, and wildlife
- Moon Pacific Northwest Hiking covers hikes in Washington and Oregon
Pacific Northwest Top Experiences
Hit the Trail
Best By Season
Best Waterfall Hikes
Best Brew Hikes
Best Wildflower Hikes
Best Dog-Friendly Hikes
Easy Waterfall Walks
PACIFIC NORTHWEST TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Explore the Columbia River Gorge.
2 Take in Pacific Ocean views and spot marinelife.
3 Hike around volcanic landscapes on Mount Rainier and Mount Hood.
4 Wander through fields of wildflowers.
5 Chase waterfalls.
6 Walk beneath curtains of moss and towering trees in Olympic National Park’s Quinault and Hoh Rain Forests.
7 Swim in mountain lakes.
8 Follow trails through the urban forests of Seattle and Portland.
9 Gaze into Crater Lake’s dramatic blue depths.
10 Kick back with a post-hike beer.
HIT THE TRAIL
Whether leaving footprints on an ocean beach, wandering through lush Douglas fir forests, traipsing across landscapes shaped by ice age floods and volcanic eruptions, or climbing Cascade peaks, every step in the Pacific Northwest reveals anew why this is one of the world’s most captivating hiking destinations.
Washington and Oregon collectively encompass four national parks, 42 national wildlife refuges, more than 350 state parks, nearly seven million acres of protected wilderness, and roughly 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The volume can keep hikers busy for a lifetime, but it’s the variety that makes this region so special.
In Washington, adventures await on the snowy slopes of Mount Rainier, around the maritime playground of Puget Sound, and in the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate rain forests, made lush by more than 10 feet of rain per year. In Oregon, the rugged, compelling coast is marked by crags, peaks, and lighthouses; Crater Lake shines like a sapphire gem; and the dusty high desert expanses around Bend beckon. You can walk through a retired railroad tunnel on Washington’s Snoqualmie Pass and see Oregon Trail wagon tracks in the Blue Mountains. The states converge dramatically at the awe-inspiring Columbia River Gorge, a National Scenic Area that marks the border between them.
The Pacific Northwest gives generously to outdoors explorers. Each step takes you a little farther from the stress of everyday life, a little closer to tranquility. This is what we hope this book gives you. We’ll show you the paths to take. Nature will take care of the rest.
Camping the Coast
With a mix of sea stacks, lighthouses, towering capes, tide pools, and beaches, the Pacific Northwest’s coast offers classic adventure. Pick a hike and then pitch a tent nearby for the night, or string these suggestions together—they’re listed north to south—to hop your way down the coast on a hiking-camping trip. Driving time between successive campgrounds is typically between 1 and 3.5 hours.
Makah Indian Reservation, Neah Bay
Start your day with an easy walk to Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. Then make the longer hike to Point of Arches via Shi Shi Beach to catch sunset. Spend the night at Hobuck Beach Resort, an oceanside campground on Makah tribal land, conveniently situated between the trailheads.
Olympic National Park, Ozette
Two legs of the Ozette Triangle are boardwalks cutting through the forest to and from the middle leg, a walk on Washington’s wild coast. Nearby you can spend the night camping on the shore of Ozette Lake at Ozette Campground, and learn about the homesteads that once occupied this area.
Olympic National Park, Rialto Beach
Time your visit for low tide and examine tide pools as you stroll along Rialto Beach to the sea arch known as Hole-in-the-Wall. Spend a night sleeping in the forest less than 1.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean at nearby Mora Campground.
Olympic National Park, Kalaloch
Head about 30 miles inland from the coast to hike through rain forest on the Quinault Loop. Then head back to the coast for a night at Kalaloch Campground, one of the most popular campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula; sites are close enough to hear the ocean surf.
Spend a night near where the Lewis and Clark expedition camped at Cape Disappointment State Park and take a walk on the North Head Trail. After a short side trip to an old military battery, the trail leads through the forest to a lighthouse with sweeping views of the Pacific.
The tent sites at Saddle Mountain State Natural Area promise a quiet respite from some of the region’s more crowded campgrounds. Situated early along the Saddle Mountain Trail, you’ll appreciate the proximity after climbing nearly 1,500 feet up the mountain’s slopes.
Sitting on a sand spit between Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Cape Lookout State Park has a developed campground nestled in the heart of the Tillamook coast. Just a few miles south, you can hike to the tip of Cape Lookout, one of the best whale-watching spots on the entire Oregon Coast.
The Cape Perpetua Campground makes a great base for exploring the area’s natural beauty. Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn, and “the best view on the Oregon Coast”—according to the U.S. Forest Service—are some of the many highlights along Cape Perpetua’s network of trails.
Embark on a magical hike to one of the coast’s most iconic lighthouses—plus a beach—on the Heceta Head to Hobbit Trail. Less than a 30-minute drive south on U.S. 101 brings you to the campground at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, set amid the Oregon Dunes.
You don’t have to go far to see one of the northernmost redwood groves on Earth—in fact, it’s a short walk from your campsite at Alfred A. Loeb State Park. On the River View Trail to Redwood Nature Trail, you’ll pass through a forest of Oregon myrtle before reaching the towering trees.
Day-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
The 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) stretches from Mexico to Canada and is a dream trip for many backpackers. While thru-hikers take months to walk the entire trail, such an adventure isn’t realistic for many. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the famous route: Oregon and Washington are home to about 1,000 miles of it and offer numerous opportunities for day hikes, as well as nearby camping options.
Hike the scenic Naches Peak Loop. Not only does this classic wildflower hike have views of Mount Rainier, but you’ll split time between the PCT and the national park’s trails. Camp 13 miles northwest of the trailhead at White River Campground.
Columbia River Gorge
The hike to Dry Creek Falls follows the PCT through patches of burned forest—damage done by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire—before an offshoot trail detours to the base of the namesake falls. Camp about 8 miles east of the trailhead at Wyeth Campground.
Ramona Falls, which tumbles over columns of basalt in a shady forest, is a popular destination, and on the hike you’ll hop on and off the PCT. Spend the night about 10 miles southwest at Tollgate Campground; you’re not far from U.S. 26, but the Zigzag River—which butts up against the campground’s western edge—drowns out highway noise.
Bend and the Central Oregon Cascades
Hike part of the PCT on the way to Little Belknap Crater. You’ll travel through a forest and emerge at the foot of a massive lava field with views of Cascade peaks. Camp 17 miles east at Creekside Campground, near downtown Sisters.
Ashland and the Rogue Valley
Hike the PCT through wildflower meadows and gain views of nearby peaks on Mount Ashland. Camp overnight just a few miles away at the Mount Ashland Campground.
Sky Lakes Wilderness and Klamath Basin
Follow the PCT on the Brown Mountain Lava Flow hike, which darts between verdant forests and eerie lava flows, all while delivering photo-worthy views of Mount McLoughlin. Sitting in the shadow of Mount McLoughlin about 5 miles north of the trailhead, Fourmile Lake Campground makes an ideal place to spend the night.
BEST BY SEASON
▪ Hall of Mosses and Hoh River Trail: This is the best season to see wildlife at this popular Olympic National Park destination.
▪ Kamiak Butte: The rolling hills of the Palouse are most green in spring.
▪ Dog Mountain: In spring this peak is capped with vivid wildflower fields.
▪ Tom McCall Point Trail: Each spring, wildflowers dot the meadows leading to the summit of McCall Point, which affords views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams.
▪ Cape Lookout: Spy migrating gray whales from one of the best whale-watching spots along the Oregon Coast.
▪ Lower Table Rock: Hike to the pancake-flat summit of Lower Table Rock and admire its seasonal vernal pools and colorful wildflower displays before the summer heat arrives.
▪ Chain Lakes Loop: Visit lakes on a North Cascades trail with views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan.
▪ Second Burroughs Loop: Alpine tundra, wildflowers, glacier views, and the rumble of rock and ice careening down Mount Rainier make this an epic summer hike.
▪ Steamboat Rock: Start the day with a hike up a basalt butte in the Grand Coulee, and then spend the warmest hours playing on Banks Lake.
▪ Opal Pool and Jawbone Flats Loop: Follow this trail to a popular swimming hole and an old mining camp.
▪ Cleetwood Cove and Wizard Island: This two-parter is only accessible in summer, when you can take a trail down to Crater Lake’s shore and then boat to a volcanic cinder cone for a hike to its summit.
▪ Sky Lakes Basin via Cold Springs Trail: Hike to some of the region’s most popular swimming holes.
▪ Maple Pass Loop: For fall colors, it’s hard to beat this North Cascades loop.
▪ Granite Mountain: This scenic climb is awash in reds, oranges, and yellows in autumn.
▪ Lake Ingalls: October is the time to see mountain goats wandering among golden larches.
▪ Trail of Ten Falls: This trail’s 10 waterfalls are even more impressive alongside vivid fall foliage displays.
▪ Bagby Hot Springs: With temperatures cooling and crowds dissipating, early fall is an ideal time to hike through old-growth forest to enjoy a soak in Oregon’s most popular hot springs.
▪ Misery Ridge-River Trail Loop: After the summer crowds have simmered down at Smith Rock, enjoy a sunny hike up to one of the best viewpoints in Central Oregon.
▪ Point of Arches via Shi Shi Beach: A worthy trip any time of year, you won’t have to share the beach with as many visitors in colder months.
▪ Oyster Dome: This popular trail is open year-round and sees fewer visitors in winter.
▪ Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail: In winter, bald eagles fish for chum salmon at the refuge. In late January, hunting season ends and the final 700 feet of the estuary boardwalk reopens to hikers.
▪ Mosier Plateau: The Mosier Plateau’s low elevation makes it a good winter hiking destination, and you also have a solid chance of spotting bald eagles overhead.
▪ Cape Falcon: Hike out to a windswept bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where you might see migrating gray whales.
▪ Lower Macleay Trail to Pittock Mansion: When the region’s most popular hikes are socked in with snow and ice, this hike remains accessible, delivers a hearty workout, and offers stellar views of the downtown Portland skyline.
BEST WATERFALL HIKES
▪ Quinault Loop: Pass multiple waterfalls on this loop through lush rain forest greenery.
▪ Twin Falls: View this dynamic cascade in the forest from several vantage points.
▪ Cedar Falls: Make this easy hike early in the spring when the falls are at their most powerful.
▪ Wallace Falls: The trail to these falls is one of Washington’s most popular hikes.
▪ Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls: This stack of waterfalls is so tall you can’t fit it all into one view.
▪ Latourell Falls Loop: These scenic falls in the Columbia River Gorge cascade amid lichen-colored columnar basalt pillars.
▪ Wahkeena Falls-Multnomah Falls Loop: Bookend a hike with two of the most popular waterfalls in the Gorge.
▪ Drift Creek Falls: Cross a dramatic suspension bridge to this waterfall in the Oregon Coast Range.
▪ Trail of Ten Falls: On this iconic hike you’ll pass 10 waterfalls in less than 10 miles.
▪ Ramona Falls: Hike to one of the most photographed waterfalls in the state, set in the shadow of Mount Hood.
BEST WILDFLOWER HIKES
▪ Grand Valley: Look for scarlet paintbrush, bluebells-of-Scotland, and more on this hike.
▪ Skyline Divide: Heather, aster, daisies, and lupine add a kaleidoscope of color to a ridge with up-close views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan.
▪ Skyline Trail Loop: Conservationist John Muir’s words are carved into the steps at the beginning of this hike and let visitors know what lies ahead: “the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens”.
▪ Cowiche Canyon: Golden balsamroot and pink bitterroot add spring color to the arid terrain near Yakima.
▪ Dog Mountain: Colorful lupine, columbine, balsamroot, and other wildflowers attract so many visitors that you need a permit to visit in spring.
▪ Tom McCall Point Trail: Among the most popular wildflower hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, this trail hosts yellow balsamroot, purple grasswidow, and red paintbrush, plus views of Cascade peaks.
▪ Tryon Creek State Natural Area Loop: Trillium, tiger lily, and fireweed dot this trail in spring.
▪ Elk Meadows: Host to everything from purple lupine to white-fringed grass of Parnassus, this is one of the best wildflower-viewing spots on Mount Hood.
▪ Lower Table Rock: The flat summit of Lower Table Rock hosts numerous rare wildflowers, including the dwarf woolly meadowfoam—a plant found nowhere else on Earth.
▪ Mount Ashland (via the Pacific Crest Trail): Find some of the Rogue Valley’s most breathtaking wildflower displays along this hike through hillside meadows.
- On Sale
- Jul 14, 2020
- Page Count
- 550 pages
- Moon Travel