Here are 5 of the most popular trails with locals.
Easy Hikes in Washington:
Highlights: This lush, green trails winds through the woods, loosely following Barclay Creek. You'll see many "trees growing on rocks" along the way -- trees that started to grow in the dirt on top of rocks but, as they grew larger, the roots grew around the rocks. As you near the top, you can catch glimpses Merchant Peak and you'll marvel at Baring Mountain as it towers over the lake.
Details: 4.4 miles roundtrip; 500 feet elevation gain; best season is summer through fall; a Northwest Forest Service pass is required to park at the trailhead.
Highlights: This alpine lake, and wetland area, are nestled on the northern shoulder of Mount Pilchuck. The journey to the lake is beautiful. The mountain-rainforest trail winds its way through western hemlock, mountain hemlock, alder, and red cedar. Along the way you'll pass some large, old growth trees and several small creeks. The way up to the lake is pretty but the loop around the lake is the highlight of the trip.
Details: 5.4 miles roundtrip; 1,350 feet elevation gain; it's a great year-round trail because you can hike it in the summer and snowshoe in the winter; a Northwest Forest Service pass is required to park at the trailhead; This trail is often wet and can require you to cross several small streams so wear appropriate footwear.
Moderate Hikes in Washington:
Heather-Maple Pass Loop
Highlights: Heather-Maple Pass features ridgelines blanketed in wildflowers in summer and is famous in the fall for its golden larches. The views into the interior of the North Cascades National Park from the ridge are jaw-dropping. Along the trail, you can also choose a 2-mile side trip to Lake Ann or add a little distance and stop at Rainy Lake on your way back to the car.
Details: 7.2 miles roundtrip; 2,000 feet elevation gain; best season is summer through fall; a Northwest Forest Service pass is required to park at the trailhead; The highway used to get there -- the North Cascades Highway -- is closed during the snowy season, so check road conditions before you go.
Highlights: Snow Lake, a sparkling turquoise jewel set against the towering Roosevelt and Chair Peaks, is the most visited lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. If you end your hike at the east end of the lake where the ruins of an old cabin sit, you will be glad you went. You'll be blown away, and probably get some more privacy, if you continue around the north side of the lake to its end. In the summer, many brave souls take a plunge in the cold water.
Details: 7.2 miles roundtrip ; 1,800 feet elevation gain; best season is summer through fall; a Northwest Forest Service pass is required to park at the trailhead; Be prepared to go slow and make friends -- this trail can super crowded (going on a weekday is best).
Difficult Hikes in Washington
Highlights: This one is North of Seattle near Bellingham but is worth the drive. You'll climb through the forest, past huge granite boulders and some logging artifacts, before reaching the opening at the top of the mountain. On a clear day, you can marvel at the San Juan Islands and, if you are lucky, see all of the way to Vancouver Island, Canada.
Details: 5 miles roundtrip; 1,900 feet elevation gain; this trail remains snow-free all year round so it's great during any season; a Discover Pass is required to park at the trailhead; This trail is not a good one if you are afraid of heights; This hike can be lengthened by a couple of miles by hiking from Chuckanut Drive instead of the Samish Lake Overlook.
All of these trails can be done in a day, although some of them are very long drives from Seattle.
The Heather-Maple Pass Loop is the farthest from Seattle. If you have the time and want to do this trail, it's definitely more pleasant to make it an overnight trip by camping in the area or spending the night in the town of Winthrop.
The closest trail to Seattle is the Snow Lake Trail. It's definitely the most bang for your buck but its proximity to the City also makes it one of the most crowded -- with both people and dogs.
No matter which one you pick, the views won't disappoint.
For more information on these Seattle-area hiking trails, visit my blog, You Did What with Your Weiner.
Have you hiked in the Western Washington area with your dog? Do you have any trails you can add to this list to help future visitors out?