The Best Winter Hikes in Washington - AdventureTripr

The Best Winter Hikes in Washington

Kirsten Forrester · December 16, 2021

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The Best Winter Hikes in Washington
The Best Winter Hikes in Washington

Washington State has some of the best hikes in the country, and that’s no exception when it comes to winter! While it will at times be gloomy and rainy, braving the weather means fewer crowds, majestic snow-capped mountains, and sunset adventures where you can still make it home in time for dinner. To help you adventure this winter, we’ve put together a list of our favorite winter hikes in Washington. 

Before You Go 

When heading out to hike in the winter, it’s important to make sure you’re well prepared! Make sure to read our blog “Your Guide Winter Hiking Gear” for winter hiking tips, equipment, and more. 

Winter hikes in Washington require avalanche knowledge to best prepare you for the risks involved. Avalache.org provides free avalanche education videos and resources on where to attend avalanche training classes. 

Before hitting the trail, it’s essential to check the recent trail conditions and reports. You can find these reports on AllTrails and the Washington Trail Association websites. These reports will tell you what kind of traction you’ll need - ie. snowshoes vs. microspikes. You’ll want to have access to a topographic map of your winter hike as well! All Trails, Gaia GPS, and Avenza Maps are all great for this. 

Winter Hikes in Washington 

Here's our list of the best winter hikes in Washington!

Franklin Falls 

Franklin Falls is the best waterfall winter hike in Washington!
Franklin Falls is the best waterfall winter hike in Washington!

Distance: 7 miles, roundtrip 

Elevation gain: 400 ft.

Franklin Falls is a classic, quick hike only an hour from downtown Seattle. In winter, the waterfall appears almost frozen, making for a super magical experience! The road to the trailhead in the winter is closed, meaning you have to hike about 2.5 miles each way on the road to the trailhead, adding five miles to the trip. The hike is flat and easy, though! 

Artist Point

Mt. Baker's Artist Point in winter.
Mt. Baker's Artist Point in winter.

Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1000 ft.

 If you ask a few Washington locals what their favorite winter hike is, we can guarantee you a few of them will undoubtedly say Mt. Baker’s Artist Point. The last section of the road up to Artist Point is closed in the winter, so park and start at the Heather Meadows Visitor Center. You’ll definitely want snowshoes or microspikes for this one!

Hurricane Ridge 

Hurricane Ridge is a beautiful winter hike in Washington.
Hurricane Ridge is a beautiful winter hike in Washington.

Distance: 6 miles, roundtrip 

Elevation gain: 400 ft.

Hurricane Ridge is without a doubt one of the best hikes in Olympic National Park, and winter is no exception! On a bluebird day, you are able to see Mount Olympus in all her glory, and maybe even across the Salish Sea to Victoria, British Columbia! It’s important to note that access is only available Friday-Sunday in the winter months, from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. 

Deception Pass 

Deception Pass is a winter hike in Washington without snow.
Deception Pass is a winter hike in Washington without snow.

Distance: 5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 350 ft. 

If you want to trade in the snow for some sand, Deception Pass is the winter hike for you. Over on the Puget Sound, this is a great area to explore during sunset, when the colors of the sky light up the water. 

Staircase Rapids

Cloudly, winter days make the Olympic National Park forest appear more lush.
Cloudly, winter days make the Olympic National Park forest appear more lush.

Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 150 ft.

Hiking Staircase Rapids is perfect for dreary winter weather, as the lush, green trees pop against the gray. You’ll hike by a river and through an old growth forest. This trail can be done all year long, and you don’t need crampons or snowshoes as the trail is pretty flat with no elevation gain. 

Gold Creek Pond 

Gold Creek Pond is one of the most popular winter hikes in Washington.
Gold Creek Pond is one of the most popular winter hikes in Washington.

Distance: 2.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 10 ft.

Gold Creek Pond trail is an easy and popular winter hike in Washington. The trail is flat, easy, and relatively close to Seattle. It features a cute lake and beautiful trees blanketed with snow. Get there early to beat the crowds!

Mazama Ridge 

Winter in Mt. Rainier National Park.
Winter in Mt. Rainier National Park.

Distance: 6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 900 ft.

Mount Rainier National Park is a magical experience anytime in the year, but especially in winter! This is a more difficult hike, but is flat once you get to the ridge. Make sure to ask the rangers how to get to the ridge while avoiding avalanche zones. They can give you a map of the trail and avalanche chutes.  

Rattlesnake Ledge 

Rattlesnake Ledge is a classic Washington hike!
Rattlesnake Ledge is a classic Washington hike!

Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1160 ft.

Rattlesnake Ledge is pretty easy, has great views, and is relatively close to Seattle, which makes it a great option for winter hiking. You usually do not need microspikes for this trail in the winter, but double check the trail conditions before heading out. At the top you’ll have views of the Cedar River watershed, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake, and Chester Morse Lake.

Heybrook Lookout

Distance: 2.6 miles 

Elevation gain: 850 ft.

 Out of all of Washington’s lookouts, Heybrook is one of the easiest to access, making it a fun winter hike. The trail is a tranquil walk in the woods until right before you reach the lookout where you are presented with a view of the mountains on the other side of the highway. It can get slushy and muddy in the winter, but it's nothing some waterproof boots can’t handle.

There you have it: nine amazing winter hikes in Washington! We offer a variety of fun winter adventures, from a guided snowshoe at Mt. Saint Helens to a snow skills course. Feel free to WhatsApp us with any questions!

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