For many people, Washington is synonymous with the Puget Sound and all its surrounding beauty. The Pacific Northwest has made its stake for brilliant views and recreation, but many locals still find those perfect spots difficult to find. Have you ever searched for a hike you knew, and then went up the backside of the mountain, because that’s where your navigation brought you? Yeah, us too…
And there’s no excuse for it!
These top 5 most beautiful views are great for family-outings, adventures with friends, or individual escapades.
Quinault River – Pony Bridge & the Enchanted Valley
This super-short, 5-mile roundtrip excursion is plentiful and beautiful. With a relatively small elevation gain, this Olympic Peninsula hike is abundant with wildlife and natural recreation to enjoy. This year-round adventure thrives during the early Fall season, so ensure to check out these old-growth and moss-draped forest!
Though you may not get the entire experience without a follow-up trip in Spring (to see the meadows of wild flowers), you’ll surely enjoy the bird watching, hiking, trail running, and overall nature exposure. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced hiker, you’ll enjoy the trip! Even a photographer searching for a new backdrop will enjoy this habitat!
To access this out and back trail, you’ll need to navigate to the Forest Service’s Quinault Ranger Station, and then continue across the Quinault Rover Bridge. The trailhead is near the end of the road.
Steamboat Rock State Park
800 feet above sea-level and spanning across 600+ acres, Steamboat Rock State Park has impressed the most well-versed travelers and seasoned, local adventurers. Carved by Ice Age floods, Steamboat Rock is almost unreal with its 650-foot vertical gain hike up the columnar basalt butte.
But yes, the views and unique photo-ops are totally worth the adventure and probable need for a massage and heavy nap afterwards.
This beauty across the Cascade Mountains is located in the Okanogan-Wenatchee area, and from the top you can see the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests. Though the immediate surroundings appear barren to some, don’t let its shyness hide the teeming wildlife, spring flowers, and sagebrush native to the area.
If hiking isn’t your thing, the park also features a 320-foot dock and seven boat ramps on Lake Bans, where anglers, swimmers, paddlers, and other water-sports enthusiasts have enjoyed many-a lazy summer days. Bring your tent, drive your RV, or rent a cabin site to enjoy the space for longer periods of time!
Snoqualmie Pass – Granite Mountain
Located in the hills of the Cascades, this Pacific Northwest staple offers classic views of Crystal Lake, Kaleetan Peak, and Mount Rainier. Though it’s a steep climb, you’re surrounded by beautiful evergreens and the small of wild for the entire 8.6-mile roundtrip.
We don’t suggest exploring these peaks during winter, as avalanche danger is extreme on this rocky mountain, but stunning views is the surrounding cool, mossy forest make it a summer-time staple.
The first (or last if you’re on your way down) 1.2 miles proves the easiest, but the other 7+ miles area of narrow trails, scattered avalanche debris and evidence, and rocky slopes, so watch your step while you’re hiking through the quiet forest. Don’t worry, the trek is difficult and steep, but there are several places to stop and catch your breath.
A Ferry Ride from Seattle to Bremerton
Who knew a ferry ride could be so fulfilling? This easy “trek” – especially when compared to others on this list – has been known as one of the best since 1951 (since the ferry route began!) This one-hour voyage lands you in Bremerton, where you can either wake up the sleepy town or head on the next ride back into Seattle.
If you aren’t familiar, you should also check out other local ferry rides or even the Argosy Cruises, which often show parts of the Pacific Northwest we can rarely see from our urban vantage-point. This most beautiful view is more like fifteen-in-one.
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Surrounded by 110,000 acres of natural meadows and windy ridges, but some areas are open to the public. Yes, there are many areas that aren’t, and this extensive parcel of land is largely set aside for research, recreational, and educational purposes, but, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. Regardless of the restrictions, millions of people visit the optimal volcano-watching vantage, that is the Mount St. Helens National Park, annually.
Both the Johnston Ridge Observatory and the Forest Learning Center are great mileposts where you and your family and friends can learn the history and decipher the reason more than 1.5 million visitors have experienced Mount St. Helens facilities since 1987.
If you’re interested in more, you can also enjoy a helicopter ride of the National Park, climbing the volcano (permit required with a 100 person-per-day limit), hike the National Park trails, shopping at the gift store, elk viewing, fishing at Coldwater Lake, exploring ancient Ape Caves, dining on blackberry cobbler at 19 Mile House, or a horseback ride on the mudflow from Eco park.
If you’ve indulged in these experiences, let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear your testimonials and stories!
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