Best Day Hikes in Southwest Washington

This selected list of Southwest Washington day hikes includes trails through old-growth forests, subalpine lakes, volcanic blast zones, and summits with panoramic views.

To learn more about each featured hike, view the trip report links.

PERMITS & PASSES: Some of the trailheads in this list require a Northwest Forest Pass for parking. See the trip report links for info on whether or not a pass is needed.

HIKE DIFFICULTY RATINGS

  • Easy: Up to 6 miles round trip, and up to 1,000 ft. gain
  • Moderate: Up to 8 miles round trip, with 1,000-2,000 ft. gain
  • Strenuous: Up to 10 miles round trip, with 2,000-3,000 ft. gain
  • Very Strenuous: Up to 12 miles round trip, with 3,000-4,000 ft. gain

Featured Hikes

Blue Lake – Indian Heaven Wilderness

Indian Heaven Wilderness – Blue Lake hike

distance: 6.6 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 980 ft.
difficulty: easy
best season:
summer
trip report: Thomas Lake to Blue Lake hike

Located on the west side of Indian Heaven Wilderness, this moderate hike to Blue Lake from the Thomas Lake trailhead is filled with brilliant fall color and subalpine splendor.

Falls Creek Falls loop hike

Falls Creek Falls hike in Southwest Washington

distance: 6.3 miles (loop)
elevation gain: 1,150 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: late spring to fall
trip report: Falls Creek Falls

Stunning three-tiered Falls Creek Falls is the highlight of this loop hike that combines an easy hike alongside a mossy creek in old-growth forest with an upper ridge trail and canyon views.

Harry’s Ridge – Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens: Harry's Ridge hike

distance: 8 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer
trip report: Harry’s Ridge hike

Hike though the blast zone at Mount St. Helens to Harry’s Ridge to see the area’s remarkable recovery since the 1980 eruption. Starting at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, take the Boundary Trail to Harry’s Ridge for views of Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens.

Indian Racetrack & Red Mountain Lookout

Indian Racetrack and Red Mountain Lookout hike

distance: 6.2 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,465 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer to fall
trip report: Indian Racetrack hike

The Indian Racetrack was used by native tribes for hundreds of years. They gathered here in the summer to hunt, forage huckleberries, and race horses in the open meadow. Continue to the Red Mountain Lookout for panoramic views of the Cascades.

June Lake – Mount St. Helens

Hiking at Mount St Helens - June Lake & the Worm Flows lava fields

distance: 5.7 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,150 ft.
difficulty: easy to June Lake, strenuous to Chocolate Falls due to scrambling over large lava boulders
best season: summer to fall (typically June to October)
trip report: June Lake hike

On the south side of Mount St. Helens, take an easy hike to June Lake with a waterfall spilling into it. Or if you like scrambling, continue to the Loowit Trail and climb over large lava boulders to Chocolate Falls.

Silver Star Mountain – Grouse Vista hike

Silver Star Mountain hike via Grouse Vista trailhead

distance: 6.8 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 2,040 ft
difficulty: moderate to strenuous
best season: summer (typically May – November)
trip report: Silver Star via Grouse Vista hike

Silver Star Mountain, located in the Yacolt Burn area, is filled with summer wildflowers  and includes panoramic views of the Cascades from the summit.

Silver Star Mountain – Grouse Vista & Tarbell loop

Silver Star Mountain

distance: 7.4 miles (loop)
elevation gain: 2,440 ft
difficulty: strenuous
best season: summer, fall (typically May – November)
trip report: Silver Star – Grouse Vista & Tarbell loop hike

This longer loop to Silver Star Mountain takes the Tarbell and Sturgeon Rock trails to the summit, then returns via the Grouse Vista trail.

Trapper Creek Trail

Trapper Creek hike

distance: 7 miles (out and back with small loop section)
elevation gain: 1,550 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer and fall (typically April to October)
trip report: Trapper Creek hike

Trapper Creek Wilderness, located in Southwest Washington near the Wind River, includes around 25 miles of trails in old-growth Douglas-fir forests.