My husband and I enjoy hiking and have hiked a wide variety of trails in our 34 years of marriage. A few of our favorites are Golden Canyon in Death Valley, Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail in Joshua Tree National Park and Loch Brora in Northern Scotland.
But our favorite places to hike are close to home, and include almost any of the trails you’ll find in Western Washington.
The Mountain Loop Highway is a 52 mile stretch of road offering a variety of hikes along the way, as well as campgrounds. One of our absolute favorite hikes in this area is Heather Lake. This 4.2 mile round trip hike has an elevation gain of approximately 1,000 feet. The lake is located in a basin and offers stunning views of Mt. Pilchuck.
Another one of our favorites is Lake Dorothy, and is one of the first hikes we took together after we were married. This 9 mile round trip trail with 2,000 feet elevation gain is rated as a difficult hike, but the lake is beautiful and well worth the effort.
When we first hiked this trail, we planned to stay for the afternoon. The area seemed to be deserted as we were setting up our picnic spot. However, when we opened a bottle of wine, and the pop of the cork echoed through the silence, several heads snapped up and looked in our direction. One man said “you can’t open a bottle of wine here without people noticing!”
Lake Evan and Boardman Lake is a nice hike for families. It is an easy, 0.8 mile hike with just 300 feet elevation gain. We hiked this trail years ago with some friends who were visiting from Florida. Immediately after arriving at Lake Boardman for a picnic, one of the kids fell into the lake. Luckily, it was a warm summer day.
Mount Catherine on Snoqualmie Pass is another beautiful hike. We hiked this trail a few years ago with my sister and her family. You’ll climb 1,330 feet in just 1.5 miles, so it’s not for everyone, but it offers stunning views of the area at the top.
Probably one of the most popular and heavily trafficked hikes along the Mountain Loop Highway is Lake Twenty Two. We drove past the trailhead early one morning recently and noticed that the parking lot was completely full, and people were looking for parking spots on the highway. We chatted with a ranger about this hike, and she said that they refer to it as “Lake Twenty Poo” since the outhouse is quite messy after a long weekend. I’ll pass on this one.
The Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary is close to home and is a lovely place to take a stroll.
Big Gulch Trail is in our neighborhood and is another tranquil place for a ramble.
In recent years, we have had to tone down the difficulty of our hikes due to our arthritic knees and hips, but we try to keep moving and enjoy easier hikes with less elevation gain. Recently, we had planned to hike to Lake Boardman, but the road was too rough for our car. So we went back to the ranger station to look for other options. Lake Independence was suggested, so off we went. This trail was described as a gentle stroll though an old growth forest; well, it was probably the toughest hike I have ever been on! I felt like I was climbing the entire time. Climbing up and over rocks, roots, and stumps, it was tough! I gave up after 45 minutes, but my husband persevered and made it to the Lake.
Coal Lake is not far from the Lake Independence trailhead, and is a short, gentle stroll to get to the lake, so we went there for a picnic.
I have just barely scratched the surface here with a few of my favorite hikes in Western Washington; there are many more to choose from. I look forward to hearing about your favorite hikes, no matter where they are located!
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