19 Perfect Hikes for Stretching Your Legs On Summer Road Trips

Photo by RRKW pulled from Washington Trails Association’s blog post.

Photo by RRKW pulled from Washington Trails Association’s blog post.

From the Washington Trails Association’s blog:

The long, lazy days of August are perfect for road tripping, and Washington is ideal for a leisurely summer drive. Whether you’re heading to the hills or ambling for the shoreline, long drives mean plenty of opportunities to get out, stretch your legs and maybe discover a new favorite trail along the way.

Skip the rest stops and instead opt for one of these easily-accessible roadside rambles the next time you’re touring the state.


Highway 20

Location: Highway 20 — west side
Distance: 2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
You don’t even have to leave Highway 20 to get to Pressentin Park in Marblemount. Break out the binoculars and scan the skies to find out how the park’s Birding Trail got its name. The park also includes a picnic shelter where you can enjoy some snacks before you head back on the road.

>> Plan your trip to Pressentin Park

Location: Highway 20 — east side
Distance: 2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 70 feet
The trailhead for Rainy Lake is conveniently located right off of Highway 20. Take in a healthy dose of nature on this paved and wheelchair-accessible trail to serene Rainy Lake. This hike is especially popular during the lovely larch season.

>> Plan your trip to Rainy Lake

I-5: Bellingham — Portland

Location: Puget Sound and Islands — Seattle-Tacoma Area
Distance: 3.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 15 feet
Traffic tends to slow around Marysville, so it’s a great place to get off the interstate for a quick and easy hike on the Ebey Waterfront Trail. The paved trail will take you along the river where you can look for some local wildlife. Be on the lookout for hawks, herons and even bald eagles!

>> Plan your trip to the Ebey Waterfront Trail

Location: Puget Sound and Islands — Seattle-Tacoma Area
Distance: 1.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 40 feet
McCollum Park, also known as McCollum Pioneer Park, will give you the refreshing feel of the forest. This urban park in Snohomish County is great for restless kids and leashed dogs. If you’re looking to take an extra-long break, check out the Northwest Stream Center located in the park.

>> Plan your trip to McCollum Park

Location: Puget Sound and Islands — Seattle-Tacoma Area
Distance: 2.18 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
If it's been a hot ride in the car, you might be tempted to dig out your bathing suits at Lake Fenwick Park. You can take a hike, look for wildlife or take a dip at this 140-acre urban park.

>> Plan your trip to Lake Fenwick Park

Location: Olympic Peninsula — Olympia
Distance: 0.5 mile, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 30 feet
Enjoy the relaxing sound of the Deschutes River and make your way past not one, not two, but THREE waterfalls along this short loop trail. Watch for fish and learn about the history of the area from interpretive signs along the way. There’s even a playground where restless kids can burn off some energy before getting back in the car.

>> Plan your trip to Tumwater Falls Park

Location: Southwest Washington — Lewis River Region
Distance: 4.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 320 feet
There are plenty of trails to explore at the Seminary Hill Nature Area in Centralia. Take a quick walk or stay for a while on the lush green trails. Whatever you choose, be sure to bring a map, available at the trailhead, to help you find your way.

>> Plan your trip to Seminary Hill Natural Area

Location: Southwest Washington — Long Beach Area
Distance: 3.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
Get out of your car and out of this world on the “Solar System Walk” along the west side of Lake Sacajawea. Learn about the moon and the solar system from plaques detailing each of the planetary bodies. You will also pass an enchanting Japanese garden and rhododendron garden as you make your way around the lake.

>> Plan your trip to Lake Sacajawea

I-90: Seattle — Spokane

Location: Snoqualmie Region — Snoqualmie Pass
Distance: 0.5 mile, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 180 feet
Named after one of Seattle’s preeminent photographers, the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail will take you through a picturesque piece of the wonderful Washington woods. Enjoy babbling streams, abundant plant life and towering trees without having to stray too far from your route.

>> Plan your trip to the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail

Location: Eastern Washington — Yakima 
Distance: 0.4 mile, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 150 feet
Release your restless spirit from the confines of your car on this short and moderately steep trail. Don’t let the sign on the road fool you; the actual name of the art installation at the end of this trail is Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies. Cut yourself loose and feel as free as the ponies as you overlook the Columbia River from this unique hilltop.

>> Plan your trip to the Wild Horses Monument

Location: Eastern Washington — Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
Distance: 6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 450 feet
You don’t have to make it all the way to the end of the trail to enjoy Goose Butte. Take a walk to the historic rock house built in 1917, just enjoy a quick dose of prairie wandering. Keep in mind that this trail may be hard to follow.

>> Plan your trip to Goose Butte

Highway 14: Astoria — Maryhill

Location: Southwest Washington — Vancouver Area
Distance: 2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 100 feet 
Open year-round and with many portions of trails ADA-accessible, this lovely nature area beckons with its multitude of birds and old-growth trees — including towering Oregon white oaks. The Kiwa Trail, which is home in winter to nesting waterfowl, is closed October through April to provide quiet for the birds.

>> Plan your trip to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Southwest Washington — Columbia River Gorge 
Distance: 12 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 20 feet
Take your pick of loop hikes from the downtown station area, and receive glimpses of both the lively neighborhoods in which the trails interweave and the wildlife that inhabits the natural areas. Interpretive signs and brochures offer insight into Native American life along the Columbia River in this area before the river was dammed.

>> Plan your trip to the North Bonneville Heritage Trails

Location: Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge 
Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
Crawford Oaks is a non-motorized, multi-use trail used by hikers, cyclists and horses. Luckily, there's plenty of grand vistas for everyone to share. This 4-mile out-and-back can be combined with other nearby trails at Columbia Hills State Park to turn a quick pitstop into a full day of rambling. 

>> Plan your trip to Columbia Hills State Park — Crawford Oaks

Highway 2: Seattle — Spokane

Location: Central Cascades — Stevens Pass - East
Distance: 1 mile, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
Following the original route of the Great Northern Railway, this flat, ADA-accessible trail stays mostly in forest as it skirts alongside Nason Creek. As the trail is only accessible from the westbound side of Highway 2, some planning may be required to enjoy this little loop.

>> Plan your trip to Bygone Byways Interpretive Trail

Location: Central Washington — Wenatchee
Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: minimal
Part of Wenatchee Confluence State Park, this natural area is named for the family who allowed Chelan County to acquire 100 acres of their pear orchard for the purpose of establishing a wetland preserve. There are 2 miles of graveled trail to explore in the 100-acre preserve, with posts established along the way for observing wildlife. 

>> Plan your trip to the Horan Natural Area

Location: Central Washington — Grand Coulee 
Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
A splendid coulee hike offering unlimited wandering potential. Be it long or be it short, the walk will provide unparalleled views of towering basalt cliffs. Bring water, especially during hot summer months. 

>> Plan your trip to Moses Coulee Preserve

I-182: Yakima — Walla Walla

Location: Central Washington — Tri-Cities
Distance: 3.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 30 feet
At only 276 acres, Chamna offers an impressive 11 miles of multi-use hiking trails along the Yakima River, and is home to an abundance of wildlife. Expect to see birds, deer, rabbits, porcupines, coyotes, beaver and maybe even river otters. 

>> Plan your trip to the Chamna Natural Preserve

I-195: Spokane — Pullman

Location: Eastern Washington — Palouse and Blue Mountains
This detour is well worth the time. History, geology, mountain views and more can all be found at Steptoe Butte State Park Heritage Site. While you take a break at the summit, look to the skies to spot not only birds, but paragliders and hangliders too.

>> Plan your trip to Steptoe Butte State Park Heritage Site