Elevation Gain: Leafly’s Guide to the 7 Best High Hikes in Washington
Welcome to Elevation Gain, where we’ll pair cannabis with hiking, backpacking, camping, and all the greatest aspects of the great outdoors … all summer long. Check out all Elevation Gain articles here.
To truly soak in the beauty of the volcanic mountains of the Cascades to the massive spruces in the Olympics’ Hoh Rainforest, you’ll want to make sure you pack some cannabis with your boots and water bottle.
It’s no secret that the Evergreen State holds some of the best and most diverse trails for hiker enthusiasts and newbies alike. Get elevated amongst clear, blue waters, lush greenery, and rugged mountains as you check these Washington trails off your list.
Mount Pilchuck Trail – North Cascades
Start your hiking adventures off right by visiting the enigmatic Mount Pilchuck trail. From cooling streams to heavy inclines, you’ll be deeply rewarded with panoramic views of the Cascades from a charming 1921 fire lookout nestled at the top. Take a breather before you turn around by packing a picnic lunch and enjoy the stunning views while you eat.
Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft.
Ape Caves – Mt. St. Helens
Discovered in 1947 by logger Lawrence Johnson, the Mt. St. Helens Ape Caves are a unique and thrilling experience within the outside trails covering Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The lower cave is a lava tube reaching almost two miles in length and is the longest found in the continental United States. After you’ve discovered the hidden secrets of the lower cave, try your hand at the upper portion, where you’ll get to climb over boulders to reach a fresh and easy surface trail back to the trailhead.
Difficulty: Upper Level: Moderate/hard – Lower Level: Easy (you’ll need a flashlight, or you can rent a lantern at the trailhead)
Distance: Upper Level: 1.5 miles – Lower Level: .75 miles
Product Pairing: A smooth indica-leaning hybrid for after the hike. Load up your favorite durable bong with Legalized OG by Seattle’s Private Reserve to relax your muscles and bring you a sense of calm after your exciting boulder climb.
Cape Alava Loop – Olympic Peninsula
|| Photo from @peninsulatrips || The Cape Alava Loop (Ozette Triangle) is two hikes in one: a forest stroll and a walk on the beach. For those who don't have time for a 9-mile loop, the short hike on a beautiful boardwalk through forest is just the ticket. Take the Cape Alava Trail out to the beach and back for a 6.2 mile hike (text from wta.org) || Image selected by @ericmuhr || Join us in exploring Washington, wherever you are, and tag your finds to #Washingtonexplored || #CapeAlava #CapeAlavaLoop #OzetteTriangle #Washington #WashingtonState ||
This wouldn’t be a true Washington hiker’s guide without a gorgeous trail on the state’s bewitching coast. Cape Alava Loop navigates through grand red cedar woods and takes you to the Cape Alava coast, where the site of the mesmerizing shoreline against the lush greenery of the forest will remain with you for years to come. Choose to camp on the beach or spend the day exploring—either option is an excellent one when it comes to this spectacular trail.
Distance: 9.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 100 ft
Product Pairing: A delicious infused cookie to fuel your hike and elevate your beach-going experience. Pack the classic Chocolate Chip Cookie by Goodship and dig your toes in the sand as calm waves of THC wash over you.
Hoh River to Five Mile Island – Olympic Peninsula
Walk along the shores of the dazzling Hoh River and breathe in the ancient history of this temperate rainforest while on the Hoh River Trail to Five Mile Island. Flushed with archaic trees such as the mammoth Western Hemlock (Washington’s state tree), you’ll find yourself contemplating Earth’s colossal timeline as you wander through this gorgeous patch of paradise. Bonus: Keep your eyes peeled for the rare northern spotted owl—there are only 500 pairs left in the state of Washington.
Distance: 10.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.
Summerland and Panhandle Gap – Mount Rainier
Favorite shot from yesterday's hike. The beautiful turquoise water set against the white snow and blue sky – these yellow flowers caught my eye and I couldn't help but savor this moment. Sunbeams coming down added to the magic. On my way back down the mountain I stopped to notice the sunshine adding sparkles like glitter to the top of the water as a soft breeze skimmed the surface. Magic. This is my church. Summerland – Panhandle Gap, Mount Rainier National Park #nature #adventure #MRNP #wonderlandtrail #summerland #sparkjoy #lifeiswonderful #alpinelake #water #mountain #washington #mountrainier #panhandlegap #pacificnorthwest #pnw #hiking
If you’re eager to see bright splashes of fall leaves or seasonal wildflowers such as the colorful Indian paintbrush, check out Summerland and Panhandle Gap trail close to Mt. Rainier. This trail stuns with natural flora while getting you up close and personal with staggering views of Rainier and near-magical glimpses of wild goats and elk. You’ll feel like you entered a fairy tale just a couple hours outside the hustle and bustle of the city of Seattle.
Distance: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,950 ft.
Product Pairing: An uplifting hybrid to sink you into creative relaxation. Make sure your pack a few pre-rolls of Phantom Cookies by Natural Mystic Farms to hone in on its cerebral and euphoric effects amongst the natural beauties of Summerland.
Dungeness Spit Trail – Olympic Peninsula
As a National Wildlife Refuge, Dungeness Spit will entice you with its variety of Northwest seabirds while giving you spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The largest natural sandspit in the U.S., the Dungeness Spit trail is a sight to see and a rare stretch of sandy beach on the state’s commonly rocky coast. Check out the historic lighthouse at the end of this waterfront trail—it opened in 1857 and is still in use today.
Distance: 11 miles
Elevation Gain: 130 ft.
Colchuck Lake Trail – Central Cascades
No, your eyes are not deceiving you—the waters of Colchuck Lake are really that blue. The Colchuck Lake Trail is perfect for hikers wanting to see large, majestic peaks above crystal-clear waters while navigating thick, verdant forests. Head out early to beat the crowds and get to the lake at its most serene, then take a refreshing dip before making the trek back to the trailhead.
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,280 ft.