Looking for the best winter hikes in Washington? While others may snug like a bug in their homey cocoon, prolific outdoors people don’t mind the wet and the cold just to get in touch with Mother Nature. Think of wildflowers hidden behind snowflakes or of towering trees frozen in place. Whether you want a short day hike, a trail run or a hike-and-camping trip, the scenic trails of the following areas will definitely jolt your senses awake.
1. Crab Creek Wildlife Area. At a 4-mile loop and elevation gain of 400feet, this Eastern Washington wildlife heaven add more sizzle to your hiking adventure. Think of rolling sand dunes, towering mountains, serene lake and gurgling creek for you to enjoy a hike even amid a wintry spell. Steer clear of hunters during winter though.
2. Snow Mountain Ranch. A family favorite, Snow Mountain Ranch offers around 9.2 miles loop for avid hikers. Feel closer to the heavens by ensconcing yourself under the summit’s wide blue skies. This winter hiking wonderland, by the way, is part of the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy that also offers fun-tastic activities for everyone.
3. Klickitat Rail Trail. Boasting of multiple access points, the Klickitat Rail Trail offers a 31-mile loop with an elevation gain of 200 to 350 feet. You can start off the grassy yet rugged plains of Swale Canyon or at the Columbia River’s mouth or via oak-lined valleys down the Lyle. This old abandoned railroad makes a great adventure even in the dead of winter.
4. Hog Lake. Lying in the fringes of Spokane is a thriving wildlife heaven for hiking fanatics. Hog Lake offers a 3.5-mile loop and elevation gain of 900 feet.
In the winter, this trail comes alive with waterfowl and songbirds complemented by sprouting wildflowers. If you wish to make a hike count, bring a fishing pole along to catch trout from the icy lake.
5. Lower Siouxon Creek. Experience how Native Americans connect with their surroundings in a 6.5-mile excursion in South Cascade’s Lower Siouxon Creek. Think mossy forests and snow draped trees. This hiking trail, by the way, is perfect for both beginners and advanced hikers.
6. Cape Horn Trail. At around 7miles round-trip and elevation gain at around 1300feet to the top, this hiking arena does not only offer sweeping winter wonderland views of the Columbia River Gorge but also that of Cape Horn Falls. If you want a more challenging hike, the uphill climb and rocky descent will definitely rock you awake.
7. Tolt-MacDonald Park. Just right at the heart of Puget Sound and Seattle Tacoma area rests the gem of King County folks– Tolt-MacDonald Park. From wildlife observation to relaxing chippers of creatures in the marshes as they brave the winter cold, this park ultimately give winter hikes a thumbs up every time. A suspension bridge just right over the Snoqualmie River welcomes everyone to the majestic trails ahead.
8. McCormick Forest Park. If you come anywhere near Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia or Port Orchard, this gem in the Kitsap Peninsula is an excellent option for a hike. At 3 miles (round trip) and elevation gain of 200 to 400 feet, getting those winter boots muddy is definitely worth it. A fenced dog park can also be found in the park making it perfect to give your trail dog some rest and for you to enjoy the scenery in your lonesome.
9. Dune Forest Loop (LeadBetter Point State Park). Located just in the fringes of Washington’s famed Olympic coast, it boasts of approximately 2.9miles round trip hike at an estimated elevation of 60 feet. Apart from hiking, the cold yet calming breeze coming from the beach and plenty of wildlife at the Leadbetter Point State Park are enough to warm every hiker’s senses. IF you are an avid bird watcher, this place is definitely heaven for your photographic prowess.
10. Moulton Falls. A little around 4 miles (round trip), this Southwest Washington hiking destination leaves the imagination go wild. With an elevation gain of 90 to 570 feet, you get to enjoy relaxing sound of cascading waterfalls and the calmness of a nearly frozen Lewis River as you stroll along. While it is best for spring and summer hikes, Moulton Falls definitely sizzle even during a wintry spell.
Step out and choose any of these best winter hikes in Washington to unleash your inner energy. Don’t let the cold spell drag you down. Simply get in the rhythm of the season and discover how nature offer solitude even in the most direst of circumstances. For safety purposes, get the right winter hiking gear and an updated map before setting out.