Winter Hikes in Washington – The Right Way To Go About It

Home » Winter Hikes in Washington – The Right Way To Go About It

There are many reasons why winter hikes in Washington are cool. For one, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The snow-capped mountains and valleys are a sight to behold, and the forests are even more beautiful when they’re blanketed in white. Additionally, the air is crisp and clean, and the silence that comes with being in nature is truly peaceful.

But beyond the physical beauty of winter hikes, there’s also something special about the challenge they present. Hiking in the snow can be difficult, and it’s always satisfying to reach the top of a trail that you might not have been able to conquer in the warmer months. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a winter hike, and it’s something that can only be experienced firsthand.

tourist on the shore of a winter lake

So if you’re looking for a unique and rewarding way to spend a cold winter day, go on a hike in Washington. You won’t be disappointed. Let’s discover the best winter hikes in Washington state.

What is the most popular places to walk in Washington in winter?
The most popular option for a winter hike in Washington is the Cascade Mountains, which offer a variety of trails to explore. Another great option is Mount Rainier National Park, which is full of beautiful scenery and has plenty of trails to choose from.

Our Top 17 Popular Places to Hike in Washington in winter

1. Deception Pass

  • Distance: 5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 350 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re looking for a more beachy, snow-free atmosphere this winter, Deception Pass is the perfect place to explore. Also, there are many great places you can park and take in the scenery. It is awesome exploring it during sunset. The reflection of the water, while the sun is setting, is just stunning which makes it one of the best hikes in winter Washington.

2. Oyster Dome

  • Distance: 5 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1050 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Hard

The views are stunning at the top, and there are pretty streams and greenery blanketed with snow. It would be best if you had good shoes, a jacket, and layers for this hike. It is often filled with snow and slush. This Washington winter hike is more for experienced hikers.

hiker looking at a winter waterfall

3. Mazama Ridge

  • Distance: 6 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 900 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Hard

Hiking in Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best hikes in Washington in winter, it’s even more special in the winter when there’s snow on the ground. Hiking the Mazama Trail in Paradise is still one of the best snowshoeing experiences you can ever have. It’s a little difficult at first, but the trail is pretty flat once you get to the ridge.

You can see some backpackers and it is a good experience to go at the sunset and sunrise at this magical place. You have to leave the park by a certain time in the winter, so a sunset hike is out of the question.

4. Sol Duc Falls

  • Distance: 1.6 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Sol Duc Falls is a popular trail for everyone. It is not of challenging hike, it is a more easy trail. Do it on a beautiful morning when the sun is rising, and the light rays are shining through the trees. Simply marvelous! You don’t need any crampons or snowshoes for this trail in the winter.

5. Mount Storm King

  • Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2065 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Hard

Mount Storm King is a popular spot for Instagram photos all year round. The breathtaking views of Lake Crescent and Canada in the distance really make this one of the best hikes in Washington during winter. The trail is so steep on some sections, and you need rope to pull you up. Don’t worry; the rope is already on the trail, so you don’t need to bring your own. Is it fun? Yes, it was a blast for me as a former rock climber, but this can be a doozy for someone scared of heights.

yellow trees in the background of the mountain

6. Staircase Rapids

  • Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 150 ft.
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

It is the perfect hike for the lousy weather. The dreary clouds really brought out the lush, green trees, and the river was flowing rapidly due to the rain. This trail can be done all year long, and you don’t need crampons or snowshoes as the trail is pretty flat and easy with no elevation gain.

7. Skyline Lake

  • Distance: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1100 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

This hike is not given enough credit. The trail is pretty steep and has wonderful views of the Stevens Pass ski area. There are beautiful trees on this trail. This trail is for more experienced snowshoers and requires snowshoes to get up to the lake.

8. Wallace Falls State Park

  • Distance: 5.6 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1300 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re looking for a great winter hike in Washington that doesn’t require snowshoes, Wallace Falls is a great option. Even though it’s rated as moderate, it’s still a great trail for the whole family. Just take your time. At the beginning of winter the trail is muddy, so make sure to wear good hiking shoes. Microspikes are not needed. There are many viewpoints along the way, and you don’t need to see all of them enjoy this trail (Lower Wallace Falls, Middle Wallace Falls, and Upper Wallace Falls).

winter lake in the mountain

9. Heybrook Lookout

  • Distance: 2.6 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 850 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Heybrook lookout is an easy day hike you can do with the family all year long. The views are fantastic while you are hiking through the forest, and the views are glorious on the lookout. The best time to go is during the early morning before the crowds are there as the parking lot is pretty small.

10. Lake Wenatchee State Park

  • Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 75 ft.
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

Lake Wenatchee State Park is a beautiful place to explore. No snowshoes are needed, only hiking boots. The trail is relatively flat and does require a snow park pass.

11. Heather Lake Trail

  • Distance: 4.6 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1034 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Heather Lake is a popular winter hike. The road to the trailhead can be a little bit dangerous. There are many potholes that can be difficult to drive in, in the winter. You might have to park far away from the trailhead. Most people bring microspikes to get to the lake. Trekking poles will also be useful to reduce the load and for the convenience of overcoming the route.

A tourist sunbathing in the winter sun against a background of snow-covered nature

12. Middle Fork Snoqualmie

  • Distance: 12 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

This trail is a great easy hike for everyone, and it features a beautiful bridge that is picturesque. At this trail, you don’t need special equipment or snowshoes, and you can turn around anytime you like. There isn’t a specific viewpoint on this hike. It is one of those go at your own pace and just enjoy the scenery kind of hike (the bridge is located at the trailhead).

13. Franklin Falls Hike

  • Distance: 6.9 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 816 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Franklin Falls is popular among hikers for being the best winter hike in Washington with a waterfall to visit in the winter. The reason for this is that the waterfall can freeze, creating a magnificent frozen oasis. However, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the hike to Franklin Falls. If you Google the waterfall, you might see that the trail is only 2 miles round trip. This is incorrect for the winter months.

During the winter, the forest road closes and the hike becomes 7 miles. The elevation gain is not too bad, but the length can be exhausting, especially in the winter. Make sure to bring snacks and layers on this hike. You might need snowshoes and microspikes to help you get to the waterfall.

14. Hex Mountain Snowshoe

  • Distance: 7.0 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2600 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Hard

Hex Mountain is another trail where it is important to get lucky weather. Thick, ominous clouds block the views, and there were high winds. But anyway you can see pictures of this trail on a beautiful day, and it is worth it if you have perfect weather.

The trail is very steep and deep with snow, so you definitely need snowshoes. The hike is for more advanced snowshoers. So be prepared physically for this hike.

yellow trees near the lake

15. Rattlesnake Ledge

  • Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1160 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Rattlesnake Ledge is a popular winter hike in Washington. It is the trail that even non-hikers hike. It is pretty easy, has great views, and is relatively close to Seattle. You usually do not need microspikes for this trail in the winter but it all depends on the weather you are going to hike in. If you are wondering – it is better to take them with you.

16. Twin Falls

  • Distance: 2.6 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Twin Falls is a go-to hike for those who are visiting from out of town. The waterfall is truly a sight to behold, and the trail is relatively easy. This is great for families with small children, and you do not need any special equipment like microspikes or snowshoes. Just be aware that it can get pretty crowded on weekends.

17. Mount Si

  • Distance: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 3150 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Hard

Mount Si offers stunning views of North Bend and the Snoqualmie area. It is an excellent trail that is located fairly close to Seattle. You do not need snowshoes, but you might need microspikes on certain days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you hike in the winter in Washington state?

Yes, you can hike in the winter in Washington state, but you should be aware of the potential hazards. Snow and ice can make trails slippery, and avalanches are a risk in some areas. Be sure to check conditions before you go and be prepared for cold weather.

Can you hike Rainier in winter?

It is possible to hike Mount Rainier in the winter, but it is recommended that hikers have experience with winter camping and mountaineering before attempting it.

Are 20 degrees too cold to hike?

It depends on what kind of hiking you want to do. If you are going to be doing strenuous activity, then 20 degrees might be too cold. However, if you are just going for a leisurely hike, then 20 degrees should be fine.

Can you visit North Cascades in winter?

Yes, North Cascades National Park is open year-round. However, some roads and trails may be closed due to snowy weather.

How long can you stand in 20-degree weather?

You can stand in 20-degree weather for as long as you want, but you will start to feel cold after a while.

Can you hike the badlands in the winter?

The badlands are open all year, but winter can be harsh. Be sure to dress in layers and pack extra food and water.

Conclusion

A winter hike in Washington can be a great way to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the state. However, it is important to be prepared for the conditions. Make sure to dress in layers and wear proper footwear.

Be aware of the conditions of the trail and plan accordingly. Take plenty of water and snacks, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. A winter hike can be a great way to get some exercise and fresh air and enjoy the beauty of Washington state.

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