Washington State - Hiking Mountain Peaks and Alpine Lakes, With or Without a Dog

Mount Rainier View - Washington State

Of the couple hundred miles we hiked in 2020 only 10 of those miles were without our pup. Washington is home to three incredible National Parks and several other recreation areas that prohibit dogs, but there is so much more! These are some of my top picks for dog friendly hikes without sacrificing the views.

You can use this interactive map to find hikes by location and/or the descriptions below to find the right fit for your skill level and interests. On the map the blue markers indicate the recommended hikes listed below and the squares indicate other hikes that didn’t make the cut, but may be worth checking out while you are in the area.

Contents

Check out below for more details, local attractions, and links to full articles on many of the hikes. If there isn’t an article yet Subscribe to the Newsletter to be notified when it is published or request it in the comments at the bottom.

Rating Key:

Trail Ratings: Based on summer, snow free conditions

  • Easy - Mostly flat ground
  • Moderate - Hikes with elevation change
  • Hard - Long hikes with significant elevation gain and/or difficult terrain

Road Ratings: It is best to check trip reports for current conditions, especially for dirt roads

  • Easy - All or mostly paved road
  • Moderate - Some dirt or gravel road, but doable for most vehicles (video example)
  • Hard - Vehicle with good ground clearance recommended (video example)

Greater Rainier Area

  • Norse Peak - Wildflowers, View of Rainier, Burnt Forest
    • Moderate to Hard Trail
    • Easy Road
  • Summit Lake & Bearhead Mountain - Alpine Lake with a View of Rainier, Wildflowers
    • Moderate Trail
    • Moderate to Hard Road
  • Foothills - Berries, Mountain and River Views
    • Easy Trail
    • Easy Road

Central Cascades

  • Poo Poo Point - Mountain Views with Paragliders
    • Moderate Trail
    • Easy Road
  • Blanca Lake - Mountain Ringed Alpine Lake
    • Moderate Trail
    • Moderate Road
  • Mount Teneriffe - Waterfall, Mountain Views
    • Moderate to Hard Trail
    • Easy Road

Northern Cascades

  • Hidden Lake Lookout - Mountain Views, Wildflowers, Alpine Lake, Fire Lookout
    • Hard Trail
    • Hard Road
  • Park Butte - Mountain Views, Fire Lookout, Berries, Mushrooms
    • Moderate Trail
    • Moderate Road
  • Heather Maple Pass - Mountain Views, Alpine Lake, Wildflowers, Fall Foliage
    • Moderate Trail
    • Easy Road
  • Watson Lakes - Alpine Lakes
    • Easy to Moderate Trail
    • Moderate Road
  • Hannegan Pass & Peak - Mountain Views, Berries
    • Moderate Trail
    • Moderate Road

Olympic Peninsula

  • Mount Ellinor - Panoramic Mountain Views
    • Moderate to Hard Trail
    • Moderate Road
  • Big Quilcene River - Peaceful Canyon River Lined with Mosey Trees
    • Easy to Moderate Trail
    • Easy to Moderate Road

Whidbey Island

  • Double Bluff Beach - Mountain and Ocean Views
    • Easy Trail
    • Easy Road

What pass do I need?

Check out Washington Trail Association’s article: Recreation Passes and Permits

What else do I need to bring?

The Basics - Good to have on any hike


Greater Rainier Area

Norse Peak - Wildflowers, View of Rainier, Burnt Forest

Norse Peak - Washington State

  • Moderate to Hard Trail
  • Easy Road
  • 10 miles out and back
  • 2900 ft Elevation Gain
  • Best time to visit is July for wildflowers
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Some narrow sections
  • Some misleading trails
  • Full sun for over 50% of the trail
  • No water

Road/Parking: Parking is right on a paved road

The Experience:

Want to walk along a trail lined with wildflowers, gaze at Mount Rainier, and pass through the ghostly remains of a burnt forest? This area saw a wildfire in 2017 that cleared some spectacular views and made way for the sun to reach the ground, allowing numerous varieties of flowers to flourish. Check out the Norse Peak full article for details.

Summit Lake & Bearhead Mountain - Alpine Lake with a View of Rainier, Wildflowers

Summit Lake - Washington State

  • Moderate Trail
  • Moderate to Hard Road
  • Summit Lake - Roughly a 6 mile loop to go around the lake with 1300 ft elevation gain
  • Bearhead Mountain - 6 mile out and back with 1800 ft elevation gain
  • Summit Lake & Bearhead together - Roughly 11.5 miles
  • Best time to visit is July, August, & September
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Steep drop offs at viewpoints
  • Rough road with logging activity
  • You might not want to leave

The Experience:

Crystal clear water, stunning views of Mount Rainier, plentiful wildflowers, mountain summit with panoramic views, and peaceful forest trail! This hike has it all, just make sure you are prepared for what it takes to get there! Check out the Summit Lake & Bearhead Mountain full article for details and a video of the drive in.

Foothills (Orting Section) - Berries, Mountain and River Views

Orting Foothills Trail - Washington State

  • Easy Trail
  • Easy Road
  • Mostly paved
  • Perfect year round
  • No pass required

Hazards:

  • Colliding with faster moving wheeled vehicles on the paved portion

Road/Parking: Multiple paved parking areas to choose from and if they are full just find a spot downtown and walk over.

The Experience:

The Foothills trail goes for many miles, but I like to make a loop out of a section that runs through Orting. I take the paved trail (starting downtown or at the skate park) to the intersection with the gravel river trail and cutting back through town whenever I get tired. This is a nice walk any time, but if you can find a summer day where the local farm market is open and the mountain is visible, it is perfect. Pick up a snack at the market and go for a stroll. If the market isn’t open there are still plenty of places in town to grab a bite before or after your walk.


Central Cascades

Snoqualmie Pass I-90 - North Bend has lots of good places to grab a bite to eat, an interesting train park, and a scenic waterfall nearby.

Stevens Pass Route 2 - Monroe has a quaint feel to it and many dining options.

Poo Poo Point (Chirico Trail) - Mountain Views with Paragliders

Poo Poo Point - Washington State

  • Moderate Trail
  • Easy Road
  • 4 mile out and back
  • 1760 ft Elevation Gain
  • Toilets at trailhead
  • Best time to visit is on a clear day year round
  • Public transit is sometimes available
  • No pass required

Hazards:

  • Slick when wet or icy

Road/Parking: Large gravel lot right off the main road. This is a popular spot and it does fill up.

The Experience:

We hit this one on a rainy day so no views but still a beautiful trail. Hoping to get back out there on a better day.

Blanca Lake - Alpine Lake

Blanca Lake - Washington State

  • Moderate Trail
  • Moderate Road
  • 8 miles out and back
  • 3300 ft Elevation Gain
  • Best time to visit is any time the trail is snow free
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Slipping on logs at the lake
  • Getting lost on the drive back

Road/Parking: Required a detour due to frequent road closures. Check out the full article for details.

The Experience:

This is one of those shady trails that is perfect to shield you from the sun on a summer day, or even the rain. The mountain ringed lake at the end with its unique coloring is well worth the trek to see it. Check out the Blanca Lake full article for details.

Mount Teneriffe - Waterfall, Mountain Views

Mount Teneriffe - Washington State

  • Moderate to Hard Trail
  • Easy Road
  • 11 mile loop (Kamikaze up, Mount Teneriffe down )
  • 4000 ft Elevation Gain
  • Toilets at trailhead
  • Best time to visit is on a clear day year round, but check snow conditions
  • Need a pass - State Park

Hazards:

  • Over 1000 ft drop to one side at the peak
  • Kamikaze trail is steep and not well marked
  • Some rock scrambling

Road/Parking: Paved lot

The Experience:

This hike is mostly tree covered, with just small glimpses here and there, so when you pop out of the trees at the top it takes your breath away. On a clear day you can see Seattle and all the way to the Olympics. There are several possible routes, with Kamikaze being the more challenging by far and in my opinion the most fun. Check out the full article for details.


Northern Cascades

Bellingham - Makes a nice base if you are looking for somewhere urban. It is a charming city with a large variety of food options.

Northern Cascades Highway Route 20 - The town of Concrete has an unmissable town sign and many dining options. If you pass Diablo Lake there is paved lot at the lookout with toilets.

Hidden Lake Lookout - Mountain Views, Wildflowers, Alpine Lake, Fire Lookout

Hidden Lake Lookout - Washington State

  • Hard Trail
  • Hard Road
  • 8 miles out and back
  • 3300 ft Elevation Gain
  • Best time to visit is late summer
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Getting stuck in potholes
  • Treacherous climb to the lookout (the trail to the lake is fine)
  • Crossing the snow patches that linger year round

Road/Parking: Quite rough, our Forester scraped a couple times.

The Experience:

Just incredible! This is one of the best I have done, not just in Washington, in the world! The trail takes you through at least four completely different ecosystems and the mountain views are incredible.

Park Butte - Mountain Views, Fire Lookout, Berries, Mushrooms

Park Butte - Washington State

  • Moderate Trail
  • Moderate Road
  • 7.5 miles out and back
  • 2200 ft Elevation Gain
  • Toilets at trailhead
  • Best time to visit is summer or fall
  • Need a pass - US Forest Service

Hazards:

  • Summit fever, it is so close!

Road/Parking: Limited parking at the end of a 15 mile dirt/gravel road.

The Experience:

This incredible hike has views most of the way and lots to see! At the lookout Mount Baker feels like just a skip across the valley. The lookout balcony suspended on the edge of a dizzying cliff, but if you can get over the heights this is an unparalleled lunch spot. Don’t worry, other than the lookout this trail is pretty mild in terms of heights and there are plenty of other less intimidating spots.

Heather Maple Pass - Mountain Views, Alpine Lake, Wildflowers, Fall Foliage

Heather Maple Pass - Washington State

  • Moderate Trail
  • Easy Road
  • 7 mile loop
  • 2000 ft Elevation Gain
  • Toilets at trailhead
  • Best time to visit is summer or fall
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Finding your car when you finish

Road/Parking: Plenty of roadside parking but you may end up a mile away in the fall!

The Experience:

The first mile of this hike was a traffic jam, but after that the herd thinned and it was pleasant. Beautiful scenery in all directions and if you have never seen larches (the deciduous “pine” trees that turn gold in the fall) this is a great spot.

Watson Lakes - Alpine Lakes

Watson Lakes - Washington State

  • Easy to Moderate Trail
  • Moderate Road
  • 3-6 miles out and back
  • 1000 ft Elevation Gain
  • Toilet at trailhead
  • Best time to visit is summer or fall
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Rough trail after the second lake

Road/Parking: Over 12 miles of rough road driving but not horrible.

The Experience:

Something about the mountains and the reflections here make these lakes really special. The trails to Anderson Lakes are an easy walk complete with some boardwalks and a little up and down, the first Watson Lake requires a little elevation change going over a ridge, and the far side of the second Watson Lake is barely a trail, but worth it. Check out the Watson Lakes full article for details.

Hannegan Pass & Peak - Mountain Views

Hannegan Pass & Peak - Washington State

  • Moderate Trail
  • Moderate Road
  • 10.5 miles out and back
  • 3100 ft Elevation Gain
  • Toilet at trailhead
  • Best time to visit is summer or fall
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Getting your car stuck

Road/Parking: Careful, we saw a car have to get pulled out. Limited parking on dirt road with steep shoulder.

The Experience:

Take in the beautiful canyon in the morning, while the light is right. I hurried through this portion and regretted it later. At the top you get sweeping mountain views as you walk across strange stone that sounds like broken glass.


Olympic Peninsula

Mount Ellinor - Panoramic Mountain Views

Mount Ellinor - Washington State

  • Moderate to Hard Trail
  • Moderate Road
  • 6.3 miles out and back to the lower trailhead
  • 3300 ft Elevation Gain
  • Best time to visit is summer or fall
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • Steep trail with loose rocks and dirt
  • Lots of sun
  • Could get licked by a mountain goat (but we didn’t see any)

Road/Parking: Long dirt/gravel road in decent condition with small parking areas at the lower and upper trailhead.

The Experience:

The steep climb up what may seem like endless stairs brings you to a summit with lush green lake views to one side and snowcapped mountains on the other. It really feels like you are right on the edge of the mountain range. There used to be lots of mountain goats in the area, but many have been relocated. Check out the Mount Ellinor full article for details.

Big Quilcene River - Peaceful Canyon River Lined with Mossy Trees

Big Quilcene River - Washington State

  • Easy to Moderate Trail
  • Easy to Moderate Road
  • 1-20+ miles out and back, but can turn back at any time
  • Minimal Elevation Gain
  • Toilets at trailhead
  • Best time to visit is year round, but check snow conditions
  • Need a pass - US Forest Services

Hazards:

  • A couple narrow sections
  • Deciding when to turn back

Road/Parking: There are a few rough spots but the road isn’t too bad and has a tiny gravel lot.

The Experience:

This is the kind of trail you do not for some great lookout, but rather the experience. This trail meanders along the river through a canyon with beautiful huge mossy trees and clear blue water. Enjoy the sound of the rushing water and find a rock to just sit and reflect for a minute. This trail stretches for miles, so turn around whenever you have had your fill.


Whidbey Island

Double Bluff Beach - Mountain and Ocean Views

Double Bluff Beach - Washington State

  • Easy Trail
  • Easy Road
  • Up to 4 mile beach walk
  • Toilet and rinse station near parking lot
  • Best time to visit is year round
  • No pass required

Hazards:

  • Kids sliding down the bluffs
  • Rough waves

Road/Parking: Limited parking but plenty of space along the road

The Experience:

Walk barefoot and feel the sand and water on your toes while gazing at a panorama of Mount Rainier, the Northern Cascades, and the Olympic Peaks. Dogs run free here and get to play in the water too.


I hope you found some inspiration for the perfect hike and places to go with or without a canine companion!

Have you visited Washington?
What was your favorite spot?


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