Easily accessed from Interstate 90 in the Snoqualmie Pass section of the Cascades, the trailhead for Bandera Mountain is just a 45-minute drive east of Seattle—and one of the most rewarding hikes in the metro region.
You’ll want to eat your Wheaties before setting out, as this 7-mile round-trip trek does climb nearly 3,000 feet, but the panoramic views and abundance of wildflowers and waterfalls provide plenty of satisfying rewards.
Part of the fun of hiking to the 2,409-foot summit of Mount Constitution, the highest point in the breathtaking San Juan Islands, is enjoying the westerly views of the mainland’s Cascade Range: from Mount Baker near the Canadian border all the way south to—on clear days—Mount Rainier.
This moderate 7-mile round-trip trek rises from the shores of ice-blue Mountain Lake. If you’d rather not hike the entire route, have a friend drive up the summit road to meet you at the top of this lofty perch in Orcas Island’s Moran State Park.
The 848-foot-tall monolith for which Beacon Rock State Park is named may be its biggest draw—Lewis and Clark supposedly ascended part of it during their famed journey through the Columbia Gorge. But at this 5,100-acre park, which is a 40-minute drive east of Vancouver, the most rewarding peak for hiking is 2,400-foot Hamilton Mountain.
From the top you’re treated to mesmerizing views of 12,280-foot Mount Adams and the enchanting Columbia River. The nearly 8-mile trek passes a rushing waterfall, climbs through a shaded Douglas fir forest, and offers plenty of photo ops of the Gorge along the way.
On the state’s east side, just a 45-minute drive from Spokane, Mount Spokane State Park is laced with gorgeous trails that pass through old-growth forests and wildflower-strewn meadows. The aptly named nearly 12-mile Round the Mountain Trail circumnavigates the 5,886-foot summit of Mount Spokane.
Hiking the entire loop takes the better part of a day and requires plenty of stamina, but you’ll be treated to magnificent scenery even by just strolling a short stretch of it. A dozen other trails traverse different sections of this picturesque park.
Photo Credit: Mount Constitution, Flicker/Jonathan Miske