Nina at Point Lobos hiking with birds on a rock in the distance.

15 ULTIMATE Hikes in The PNW

You’ll love these hikes in the PNW! We’ve been hiking the region for years, and if you want the best of the best trails, we got you!

It wasn’t easy narrowing this down to such a short list, but don’t worry—we have even more for you to choose from below!

1. Chain Lakes Loop, North Cascades NP, WA

Distance: 6.2 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet

Nina on the Chain Lakes Loop Trail with a mountain in the back covered with some snow.

Chain Lakes Loop offers breathtaking views of alpine lakes, rugged peaks, and wildflower meadows.

The trail is popular for its stunning scenery, especially when the trees turn vibrant in the fall. You’ll go through a variety of terrains, including forested sections and open ridgelines with insane views.

READ MORE: Chain Lakes Loop

2. Multnomah to Wahkeena Falls Loop, OR

Distance: 5.1 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

This loop trail connects two of Oregon’s most famous waterfalls, offering scenic views AND sprinkling a few extra waterfalls in between!

The path winds through lush forests, along streams, and past waterfalls—an iconically beautiful PNW hike. It’s a popular trail, but most don’t do the full loop, so you’ll almost have it to yourself the further back you walk.

READ MORE: Multnomah Falls | Wakheena Falls

3. Skyline Loop Trail, Mount Rainier, WA

Distance: 5.7 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet

Nina on the Skyline Trail with Mount Rainier in the distance with a bit of snow on it.

Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier provides panoramic views of the famous mountain, glaciers, faraway fall, and wildflower fields with cute marmots scurrying about. The trail passes through Paradise Park, offering some of the best vistas!

It’s a popular hike, especially during the summer months when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

READ MORE: Skyline Loop

4. Maple Pass Loop, WA

Distance: 6.5 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet

Nina standing at the top of Maple Pass Loop Trail with Ann Lake at the bottom.

Maple Pass Loop is known for its panoramic mountain views, especially from the trail’s high point, which overlooks Ann Lake.

The hike starts in the forest and then through alpine meadows, where you’ll get mountain views for miles. It will almost make you forget the tough climb and the even worse steep descent! Fall is an exceptional time to see the vibrant colors of the larch trees.

READ MORE: Maple Pass Trail

5. Misery Ridge, Smith Rock State Park, OR

Distance: 2.6 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Nina walking down the path at Smith Rock State Park's Misery Ridge with tall rocks and a creek to the left.

Misery Ridge offers spectacular views of the Crooked River and the surrounding (alien) rock formations. The steep ascent is challenging (a bit miserable, one may say!) but rewarding, with panoramic vistas at the top.

It’s also a popular spot for rock climbing, adding to the trail’s appeal for adventure seekers and onlookers.

READ MORE: Misery Ridge Trail

6. God’s Thumb, Lincoln City, OR

Distance: 4 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Nina standing with views over Lincoln City from top of God's Thumb.

God’s Thumb hike features a unique geological formation resembling a thumb sticking out of the coastline!

The trail offers coastal views after walking through a forest and a meadow, making it a varied and interesting hike. The final climb to the thumb is steep but provides breathtaking views of the ocean, Lincoln Beach, and Cascade Head.

READ MORE: God’s Thumb Hike

7. Mount Storm King, Washington

Distance: 4.1 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2,076 feet

Nina at the top of Mount Storm King with Lake Crescent below.

Mount Storm King is a challenging hike that rewards you with breathtaking views of Lake Crescent and the surrounding Olympic Mountains.

The trail is steep and rugged, with a slightly sketchy rope section to assist in the final ascent (yes, really)! This hike is perfect for those seeking a challenge and unparalleled scenic vistas.

READ MORE: Mount Storm King Hike

8. Point Lobos Loop, Near Monterey, CA

Distance: 6.4 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 700 feet

The Point Lobos Loop offers stunning coastal views, a front-row seat to diverse marine life, and unique geological features. While walking along the easy trail, you’ll have fun spotting sea otters, seals, and various birds.

It’s well-marked, and there are a few side trips to scenic viewpoints along the way. This is one of our favorite hikes in the state!

READ MORE: Point Lobos Trail

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9. Castle Lake to Heart Lake, Near Mount Shasta, CA

Distance: 3 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Garrett sitting down with Heart Lake below and Mount Shasta in the distance.

This hike takes you from Castle Lake to the picturesque Heart Lake, offering panoramic views of Mount Shasta.

Castle Lake is an ideal spot for a refreshing swim or a paddle in the summer months if you want a place to chill after your hike.

The trail is relatively short, and your efforts will be rewarded, but you must find the TRUE Heart Lake on this trail—it’s not what it seems. 😉

READ MORE: Castle Lake to Heart Lake Trail

10. Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall, WA

Distance: 3.3 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Nina standing in front of a big rock at Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall Trail.

This coastal trail features dramatic sea stacks, tide pools, and unique rock formations.

The best time to visit is during low tide, which allows for exploration of the tide pools and the iconic Hole-in-the-Wall! It’s a relatively easy hike—more like a stroll on the beach—with stunning ocean views. (Don’t wear flip-flops for this beach walk, though!)

READ MORE: Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall

11. Mist Trail – Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite, CA

Distance: 6.4 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet

Nina standing in front of Vernal Falls.

The Mist Trail is one of Yosemite’s most iconic hikes, featuring the stunning Vernal and Nevada Falls. The trail is steep and can be slippery near the falls, but the views are worth the effort.

It’s a popular hike, so expect crowds, especially during peak season. However, once you get past Vernal Falls, the crowds do thin out considerably.

READ MORE: Vernal Falls

12. Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, OR

Distance: 7.4 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet

Tall waterfall at Trail of 10 Falls with greenery on the surrounding rocks.

The Trail of Ten Falls showcases a series of stunning waterfalls all in one loop hike!

You’ll even stumble on a few falls you can walk behind—not many waterfall hikes offer that experience. This is the main trail in Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park, a must-do hike in the PNW!

READ MORE: Trail of 10-Falls

13. Rubicon Trail, Lake Tahoe, CA

Distance: 16.4 miles*
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2,320 feet

Old lighthouse at Lake Tahoe.

The Rubicon Trail offers spectacular views of Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear waters and surrounding mountains.

The trail is long but relatively moderate, making it suitable for most. Along the way, you’ll find several scenic spots perfect for a picnic or a swim including the famous Emerald Bay.

*Don’t worry; there are other options if you can’t do the whole trail. Read our guide for more info.

READ MORE: Rubicon Trail

14. McKenzie River Trail, Oregon

Distance: 24.5 miles
Type of Trail: Point to Point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 860 feet

Tamolitch Blue Pool along the McKenzie River Trail.

The McKenzie River Trail is a stunning hike that follows the river’s path, which takes you through old lava flows, lush forests, Sahalie and Koosah Falls, Clear Lake, Blue Pool, and more!

This trail is perfect for those seeking a fun but shorter backpacking adventure or, if you can’t do the whole hike, you can still easily visit the highlights. Check out our guide for more info.

READ MORE: McKenzie River Trail

15. Even More Hikes in The PNW!

These hikes BARELY scratch the surface. There are SO many more.

Here are some more of our fav hikes in the area region:

We hope this helps you find the best hikes in the PNW for your next adventure!

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