3 Breathtaking Washington Hikes Near Olympia & Seattle

Looking for Washington hikes that are absolutely worth the trek? Then boy do I have you covered.

Washington is absolutely chock full of gorgeous trails, and I have a never-ending list of hikes I still want to complete. But today we’re talking about three Washington hikes I would take anyone who visits on.

I’ve picked out a short hike, and medium hike, and a long hike so people from all levels will have something to try out!

High Rock Lookout Hike

Length: 3.1 miles
Elevation gain: 1318 ft
Pass or fee: None
Bathroom: Port-A-Potty at the trailhead
Distance from Olympia/Seattle: 2 hours/2.5 hours

Heads up: This trail is occasionally closed due to restoration. Make sure you check for closures before planning your hike here! Also, during the winter the trail can be almost completely covered in snow. Keep that in mind if you’re wanting to climb the rockface at the end.

This is one of the shortest hikes I’ve ever done but the most worth it hike I’ve ever done. The trail is an extremely steep uphill battle. It was nowhere near undoable since it’s so short, but I definitely stopped every 10 minutes or so to take a breath and get a drink of water. 

evergreen trees staggered with rows on mountains behind on a washington hike

There are two “fake” views before the real view at the top of the mountain. So be warned when you think you reach the end. Not yet, but close! At the top, you’ll reach a rock face that you have to scramble up and then you can enjoy the old lookout cabin and the views of Mount Rainer.

As soon as you see the mountain you’ll forget the burning in your booty and quads and be glad you finished the hike. This is literally the best view of Mount Rainer I’ve ever seen on a Washington hike.

girl sitting on ledge with Mount Rainier in the distance

Feel free to go inside the old lookout and check out the guest book! People leave fun notes in the notebook so take a minute to go through some (see if you can find mine) and then sign your own name!

This hike can get a bit populated. You’re not crawling over people, but be prepared to pass quite a few other groups on the weekends.

old lookout cabin on High Rock Lookout (a Washington hike)

Getting to High Rock Lookout Trailhead

Feel free to use Google Maps to get to the trailhead. It takes you to the right place! There is a place on the road where you’ll reach a false trailhead — don’t follow it. Follow your maps! We drove in a small car and didn’t have issues with potholes but we did go the day after they finished restoration. People say in the winter you definitely need four-wheel drive and still will not be able to reach the actual trailhead, adding extra distance to the hike.

Lake Twenty-Two Hike

Length: 5.7 miles
Elevation gain: 1466 feet
Pass or fee: Northwest Forest Pass
Bathroom: Yes
Distance from Olympia/Seattle: 2 hours/1 hour

Heads up: During the winter months, the trail can be covered in snow and slush. People suggest bringing poles and/or spikes. There are also avalanche warnings at times. Check the Northwest Avalanche Center for more information.

I found this popular Washington hike on TikTok and knew I had to do it right away. The hike was very magical and very stereotypical Pacific Northwest to me. Everything was so green and covered in moss. You’ll see water trickling everywhere, and hear a few waterfalls roaring off the trails. To me, the hike was more exciting than the lake itself.

rows of everygreens clouded in fog taken on a washington hike

Don’t get me wrong, the lake is super cool. Just look.

boy sitting on rock in front of Lake 22 (a Washington hike)
girl standing on rock in front of lake 22 (a Washington hike)

We even jumped in the lake and that was quite the experience. If you plan to do so, please bring towels and warm clothes to change into after. The water is extremely cold and is a great shock. I went with my boyfriend and we made sure to jump in separately so we could help the other out of the water in case they needed it.

While the water was cool and all, the forest spoke to me more. Just look at the light pouring through those trees.

light rays through trees on washington hike
sunlight creating a rainbow through trees

My only complaint is that you can still hear, and sometimes see, cars on the highway sporadically during the first mile or so.

This hike is extremely popular. If you go on a rainier day you’ll run into fewer people and be able to enjoy it even more. The surrounding forest is magical in the mist and rain.

Getting to Lake Twenty-Two Trailhead

You can easily follow the directions from Google Maps. No tricks here! The road is completely paved and you should have no issues getting to the parking lot. Just be sure to check the road conditions of Mountain Loop Highway.

Lake Serene & Bridal Veil Falls Hike

Length: 7.5 (we tracked 11.5 so v confused)
Elevation gain: 2716 feet
Pass or Fee: $15 or Northwest Forest Pass
Bathroom: Yes but closed in winter months
Distance from Olympia/Seattle: 2 hours/1.5 hours

Heads up: During the winter months, the last mile or so can be covered in snow and ice. I suggest bringing poles and/or spikes. We had neither and I about had a panic attack five times trying not to fall down the hill. 

I found this hike looking for winter Washington hikes and oooh it did not disappoint. This trail has two views: Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene. You don’t have to do both, but you can.

We started on the trail and turned onto the loop to see Bridal Veil Falls first. It’s a lot of walking up wooden framed stairs until you hear the roaring of water. And wow. Just wow. Pictures couldn’t do this waterfall justice. It was a nice break before continuing up the trail to Lake Serene.

wooden stairs to the top of Bridal Veil Falls (a Washington hike)
the edge of Bridal Veil falls going over the cliff
boy standing on other side of rushing water

Once you get back on the trail to the lake it starts to get a bit more difficult. Eventually, you are only going uphill. The trail seems to never flatten out, and most switchbacks have wooden framed stairs because they are that steep. My butt and hips were dying starting about halfway up the hike. Our legs were literally shaking it was so strenuous. 

On the trail, you’ll see smaller waterfalls and lots of snowcapped mountains in the distance.

Related: Visiting Toronto in the Winter: A Guide

a snowcapped mountain with fog below
triple bump snowcapped mountains

Once you reach the lake, you’ll be ready for a break but also in awe at the beauty. I can’t speak for summer months, but wow it was gorgeous in the snow.

fallen trees in unfrozen part of Lake Serene (a Washington hike)

Almost the entire lake was frozen over and had a layer of snow on it. An absolute winter wonderland if you ask me.

Getting to Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls Trailhead

You can easily follow the direction from Google Maps. No tricks here! Just be warned it’s right off Steven’s Pass Road so if you go during the winter months you will more than likely hit extreme traffic leaving. We were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for two hours after the hike in mid-January.

Now you have three more Washington hikes to add to your list!

I’ve done plenty more hikes since moving back to Washington and plan on posting more of these, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled to discover even more impressive Washington hikes.

Which hike would you choose?

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