Day hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail is a great way to discover some of the Pacific Northwest’s greatest treasures.
The Pacific Northwest Trail has many great access points for day and weekend hikes. Many of these EveryDay hikes are close to town, often starting at trail heads within walking range of of your favorite café. Looking for a more adventurous trip? Head into one of the many public lands that the Pacific Northwest Trail passes through for wilderness views, wildlife sightings and high mountain peaks.
The Start of the Pacific Northwest Trail and one of Glacier National Parks most scenic areas, The Belly River Trail runs straight through Belly River Valley, passing along beautiful mountain views and access to 2 mountain lakes, Lake Elizabeth and Helen Lake. The trail is great for all ages being that it is relatively low elevation gain the entire time. The trail usually is great even in early summer due to the low elevation of the valley, keeping it fairly snow free by mid-June. The trail officially runs 13.6 miles one way to the Helen Lake Campground so turning this into a 2 day hike will give you a day to check out the Ptarmigan Tunnel a 2,000 vertical feet hike on the way back.
Running along the North perimeter of Bowman Lake, this section begins at a popular campground and continues along 4+ (?) easy miles of heavily wooded trail. Scattered along the trail, the prominent Bowman Lake can be seen, as well as glimpses of wildlife. The hiker is rewarded later on when the trail opens up and offers great backpacking opportunities. Hikers who choose to go on past the North end campground can continue on to Brown Pass, Boulder Pass and beyond.
Bunker Creek Trail #51
Bunker Creek Trail #51 begins at the Yaak River and offers a variety of routes based on desired length or skill level. Loop around Hoskins Lake (1 mile in from the trailhead) to enjoy lake views, flora and fauna. Or, go 6 miles to Fish Lake and continue to beautiful Turner Falls. Hikers can also use this trail to reach the lookout station on the top of Mt. Henry. Still have some energy? The Pacific Northwest Trail extends east all the way to Glacier National Park! Access Bunker Creek Trail #51 from Road #8025 or Vinal Lake Road #746. The Kootenai National Forest’s historic Upper Ford Guard Station near the trailhead on the Yaak River can be rented for overnight stays.
Midge Creek Trail #177
Enjoy the beautiful country of the Northwest Peaks Scenic Area and hike on the Midge Creek Trail. The trail climbs through forestland and opens to views of Northwest Peak, Davis Mountain, and Rock Candy Mountain. Access Midge Creek Trail #177 from the West Fork Yaak Basin Road #5902.
Tobacco Valley Rail Grade
This 7-mile trail, known as the Tobacco River Memorial Trail or the Kootenai Trail, follows an old rail grade along the Tobacco River between the communities of Eureka and Rexford. Bookended by two campgrounds—on the east, Riverside Park in downtown Eureka and, on the west, Rexford Bench Campground on Lake Koocanusa—this can be hiked (or biked!) either direction from campsite to campsite. The trail is relatively flat, also making it a pleasant out-and-back. Users will enjoy traveling over the steel trestles with views of the beautiful Montana ranchland surrounding the trail.
Big Therriault Lake Trail #86
Grab your fishing rod—or just your boots—and head for the Ten Lakes Scenic Area. Big Lake Therriault is one of several lakes in the area with picture-perfect blue water and excellent fishing! This easy 3-mile shoreline loop trail offers views of Mount Wam, Ksanka Peak and many others. Connect to longer hikes in the Ten Lakes Scenic Area from the junction with Trail #190 at the south end of the shoreline loop. Access Big Therriault Lake #86 from the campground parking lot up Graves Creek Rd and Forest Service Road #319.
The Whistler Canyon Trail offers the hiker, equestrian or rock climber great recreational opportunities. The trail just 3 miles south of Oroville, continues on the PNT west with a great hike 12 miles round trip to Wilcox Mountain. One can find many views and turn offs along the trail opening up to views of the Pasayten Wildreness and the Okanogan River and Valley.
This lovely day hike which can be as long as a 7 or a 4 mile round trip takes you on a rail trail along the Similkameen river. Family friendly, and full of great views of the gorge, and of the Similkameen Falls. The trail is great for biking as well as hiking, and historic interpretive stops along the trail give you a tour of the region.
Avid hikers will enjoy this 5.2 mile section (2000 ft elevation gain) of the Red Bluff Trail up to the top of Crowell Ridge. When you make it to the top make sure to take in the grand view of the Pend Orreille valley. Access the trailhead from Sullivan Lake Rd right across from the Mill Pond Campground.
You can also hike the PNT while strolling through Metaline Falls which has been recognized as one of the 100 best small art towns in America, showcasing early 20th century logging and mining architecture. Places you might want to stop, the Cutter Theatre, Historic Hotels, and a lunch from one of the local cafés. If your legs are tired, how about a cooling paddle on the Pend Oreille River.
With the distinction of being the highest point in Stevens County and second highest in eastern Washington, 7,308-foot Abercombie Mountain offers great views in all directions of the Cascades, Selkirks, and the Pend Oreille valley. Hikers will enjoy alpine meadows on the way up and the chance of a bear sighting. (Be careful!) There are two options to get to the top. From the east, 4-mile Flume Creek Trail #502 starts at the end of Forest Service Road #350 out of Metaline Falls. The Forest Service warns that this rough road is not recommended for passenger vehicles or horse trailers. From the west, 3.2-mile Abercrombie Mountain Trail #117 can be accessed from Forest Service Road #300 off Silver Creek Road outside Leadpoint. Both are strenuous hikes that gain considerable elevation but reward hikers with panoramic views and a peak “bagged.”
This trail will take you through alpine meadows, thick forest, and if you continue to the top of Hannegan Peak, a beautiful 360 degree view of the North Cascades. The trail starts at the end of Hannegan Pass Road (FS 32) and follows the PNT into the North Cascades National Park. The trail follows a river and crosses over a few waterfalls throughout the hike. The switchbacks begin and increase in number all the way up the the Hannegan Pass camp. Continue on up to the pass where beautiful views into the park. Hikers that wish to continue up the Peak will be rewarded with stunning views of the cascade peaks especially beautiful views of Shuksan and Baker.
Photo: Andy Porter
Renowned for epic views, wildlife encounters and tundra-like terrain, this section of the PNT marks the eastern entrance to the beautiful Pasayten Wilderness. Take the trail up 4.8 miles to Sunny Pass, giving you the first views of the Horseshoe Basin. From there the trail opens up to the views the Pasayten is known for: Open Landscapes with jagged mountains surrounding. To fit all 14 miles in one day, (although we recommend a couple days!) leave early or camp at the trailhead. This trail makes a perfect day or multi-day hike. One day giving you the taste of it, and a multi day hike giving the hiker the joy of falling asleep and waking up to the picturesque Pasayten sunrises and sunsets.
If you want a fairly even graded hike with picture perfect views, this is it. With views of Shuksan Arm, glaciers and Mt. Shuksan, the final destination of Lake Ann sits tucked into an alpine floor spread out in beautiful colored moss. The trail runs just over 4 miles to Lake Ann and starts on Highway 542 near Artist Point. On foggy days, hikers have been known to walk past the lake, so keep your eyes out for the spur trail down to the lake. To get to the trailhead, take I-5 to Highway 542 towards Glacier. Continue 23 miles to Austin Pass.
Baker Lake Trail
Photo: Andy Porter
This trail is a great hike for all ages and all seasons. Offering spectacular views of Mounts Baker and Shuksan along the trail, the Park Butte trail (which starts at Baker Lake Road) meanders around the Baker River and crosses over a few different bridges, including a suspension bridge.
Park Butte Lookout
The Park Butte Lookout isn’t popular for no reason, hiking to the top, to this old Forest Service Fire Lookout and on the way seeing epic views of Mount Baker and the North Cascades from beautiful high country, is just about the best way to spend a weekend in the Pacific Northwest.
Deception Pass State Park
This state park has many great hikes for all ages, whether you are on the PNT or taking a hike up to Goose Rock. Park at Pass Lake and hike north through dense forest, or go south out over beautiful views of the 80 year old Deception Pass Bridge. Over the bridge, hikers can head up to the top of Goose Rock or enjoy a quiet walk on the beach below.
Get away from the rain and take a hike on the Bluff Trail. This trail takes you through tall grasses overlooking the water and tidepools below. Hikers will enjoy views of the Olympic Mountains, and of course the Puget Sound. Be sure to stop by at the historic homestead just a short hike off the trail.
To plan your hike call Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve at 360 678 6084 or check out their website.