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
- Bells Mountain – Sword Fern Way loop
- Blue Lake – Indian Heaven Wilderness
- Falls Creek Falls loop
- Harry’s Ridge – Mount St. Helens
- Indian Racetrack & Red Mountain Lookout
- June Lake – Mount St. Helens
- Silver Star Mountain – Grouse Vista hike
- Silver Star Mountain – Grouse Vista & Tarbell loop
- Trapper Creek Trail
Bells Mountain – Sword Fern Way loop
distance: 8.4 miles (lollipop loop)
elevation gain: 1,785 ft.
best season: fall, spring
trip report: Bells Mountain – Sword Fern Way loop
This hike in Southwest Washington begins at Moulton Falls Park and goes up to the summit of Bells Mountain through mossy forests and open formerly logged sections with views towards the Silver Star Mountain area.
Blue Lake – Indian Heaven Wilderness
distance: 6.6 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 980 ft.
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
distance: 6.3 miles (loop)
elevation gain: 1,150 ft.
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
distance: 8 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
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
distance: 6.2 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,465 ft.
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
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
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
distance: 7.4 miles (loop)
elevation gain: 2,440 ft
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
distance: 7 miles (out and back with small loop section)
elevation gain: 1,550 ft.
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.