With moss-covered trails, lumbering evergreens and mountain-studded forests, Washington state is a nature lover’s dream. We’ve collected some helpful tips from our local insiders on the best ones to visit.
Tucked away in the Blue Mountains, Umatilla National Park spans over 1m acres (400,000ha) that run from southeast Washington to northeast Oregon. This national forest offers the perfect spot for many outdoor sports – rafting, fishing, cycling, hiking and hunting. While you’ll find several campgrounds on site, the Olive Lake Campground offers lakefront views and prime wildlife-viewing spots. If you’re a wintersports lover, Mountain Road #30 offers well-groomed trails for snowmobiles and cross-country skiers. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman
Wandering under the canopy of towering, ancient trees at the Grove of the Patriarchs, you may feel like you’re in a Tolkien adventure. This easy 1.5mi (2.4km) loop, near Mount Rainier, guides you through some of the largest and oldest red cedars, Douglas firs and western hemlocks in the United States, some of which are more than 1,000 years old. It’s the perfect spot for couples and families with kids or pets. The Grove of the Patriarchs will also provide the ultimate backdrop for some truly spectacular photos. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman
Looking to experience all of Washington’s most diverse landscapes? If so, Olympic National Forest is a must. Adventure awaits at this rugged forest, with more than 70mi (110km) of coastline, as well as lush rainforests, hot springs and mountain glaciers. Enjoy a day paddling along the rivers and lakes, tackle the eight nature trails or relax in the hot springs at a rustic cabin resort. The national forest’s ranger-led walks and campfire activities are perfect for families. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman
We don’t expect you to be able to tackle all 110,000 acres (44,500ha) of Capitol State Forest, but if you’re looking to experience the wilderness outside Olympia, this natural gem is an explorer’s paradise. Here, you’ll find more than 61mi (98km) of cycling, hiking and horseback riding trails, as well as 82mi (132km) of adventure for those who’d rather rev up some engines and take to the trails by motorcycle or ATV. The best views in the area can be found on Capitol Peak, which offers panoramic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman
While the Ginkgo Petrified Forest is not what you first think of when picturing a state forest, it is undoubtedly one of the most unique “forests” of Washington. You’ll find this geological marvel resting on a cliff overlooking the Columbia River. Instead of a lush forest full of ginkgo, maple, elm and Douglas fir, you’ll find petrified trees that are millions of years old. Wander the Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail along 3mi (5km) of wildflower-covered hills and petrified specimens. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman