Seven of the best hiking trails in the PNW | PEMCO

July 7, 2023 by PEMCO Insurance

As Pacific Northwesterners, the great outdoors is in our blood. Rain or shine, being outside is simply what we do. From the highest peaks of Mount Rainier to the sandy shores of the Oregon Coast, there’s so much to see and enjoy in the #PNW wilderness.  

When it comes to exploring the natural beauty of Oregon and Washington, there’s no better way than traversing our unique trails on a mountain bike or in your hiking boots (or in your socks with sandals, if that’s your thing). Our temperate climate makes hitting the trails enjoyable year-round—most of the time—and the diverse terrain ensures you’ll always have something new to discover.  

We compiled a list of seven of the greatest hiking and biking trails in the Pacific Northwest to help set you up for a summer full of exploration. Whether you’re a total beginner or an avid outdoorsy type, this list has a little something for everyone, even the kids! 

What are the best Pacific Northwest hiking trails? 

GettyImages-965374872.jpgGarfield Peak Trail 

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon 

Difficulty: Moderate 
Length: 3.5 miles 
Elevation gain: 1,076 feet 
Route type: Out and back 
Entrance fee: Yes 

Is there anything more majestic than a turquoise-blue lake resting in the middle of a dormant volcano? Garfield Peak Trail takes you on a journey along Crater Lake’s south rim for a moderately challenging out-and-back route that takes approximately two hours to complete. It's easy to see why this is one of the most popular trails in the park—there's nothing quite like the view. 

What to know before you go: While Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, it’s covered in snow from the beginning of November through late May. The park’s north entrance is closed during the snowy months, so plan your route accordingly. Visit the Current Conditions page before you head out. Dogs are not allowed. 

GettyImages-1292500870.jpgHall of Mosses Trail 

Olympic National Park, Washington 

Difficulty: Easy 
Length: 1.1 miles 
Elevation gain: 78 feet 
Route type: Loop 
Entrance fee: Yes 

With its ferns of all shapes and sizes, moss-draped trees, and wandering elk, the Hall of Mosses Trail feels like stepping inside a Tolkien novel (hobbits not included, of course). Along the path, you’ll find educational signs that give you a chance to learn all about Washington’s Hoh Rain Forest, which is some of the only temperate rainforest left in North America. This beginner-friendly trail is perfect for the whole family and only takes about 25 minutes to complete. 

What to know before you go: Open year-round. Dogs are not allowed. 

GettyImages-1320580274.jpgTrail of Ten Falls 

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon 

Difficulty: Moderate 
Length: 7.4 miles 
Elevation gain: 1,190 feet 
Route type: Loop 
Entrance fee: $5 day-use permit 

This trail features a whopping 10 waterfalls ranging from 27 feet to 178 feet (and you can even walk behind four of them!). Located less than an hour from Salem, Silver Falls State Park is the largest of Oregon’s state parks and is home to gorgeous old-growth forests full of Douglas firs, maples, red alders, and more. Families of all ages frequent the Trail of Ten Falls, which takes about three and a half hours to complete. 

What to know before you go: Open year-round. Dogs are not allowed. Day-use permits can be purchased at many of the trailheads and booths.  

GettyImages-839190438.jpgCape Flattery Trail 

Makah Indian Reservation, Washington 

Difficulty: Easy 
Length: 1.2 miles 
Elevation gain: 229 feet  
Route type: Out and back 
Entrance fee: Yes 

Resting on the tip of the northwesternmost point of the continental U.S., this trail offers spectacular views of Neah Bay, known for its sunsets, dramatic seaside cliffs, and a wide range of wildlife. You’ll start your journey in a mystical forest of Sitka spruce and then descend to a variety of headlands with a view of Cape Flattery. Even with the 229-foot ascent back up, the trail is moderately easy and takes less than 45 minutes to complete. 

What to know before you go: Open year-round. Dogs welcome. A recreation permit is required, and you can purchase it locally in-person at a number of locations

GettyImages-1141974077.jpgAlsea and Green Peak Falls Trail 

Alsea Falls Recreation Area, Oregon 

Difficulty: Easy 
Length: 2.4 miles 
Elevation gain: 301 feet  
Route type: Out and back 
Entrance fee: $5 day-use permit 

Get a glimpse of not one, but two incredible waterfalls as you hike a coastal forest near Eugene. During the spring and summer months, the park is bursting with beautiful wildflowers and juicy wild berries, and the waterfalls are teeming with fresh water from recent rains. Suited for novices and seasoned hikers alike, this scenic trail takes about an hour to complete—but you might be tempted to linger a little longer. 

What to know before you go: Open year-round. Dogs welcome. Cell phone service is limited; consider downloading a map before you head out. 

GettyImages-1469330104.jpgQuartz Mountain Lookout Trail 

Mount Spokane State Park, Washington 

Difficulty: Moderate 
Length: 4.5 miles 
Elevation gain: 685 feet 
Route type: Out and back 
Entrance fee: Yes 

This trail takes you to the top of Quartz Mountain, where you’ll get spectacular panoramic views of the Spokane valley, North Idaho panhandle, and Selkirk Mountains. You can even rent the fire lookout at the summit for a one-of-a-kind night of camping at an elevation of 5,129 feet. Since this trail only has an elevation gain of 685 feet, it’s great for beginners and takes about two hours to complete. 

What to know before you go: Open year-round. Dogs welcome.

While this list is far from exhaustive, it’s a great sampling of beauty and variety that the #PNW has to offer. We hope you have a blast hitting the trails, but before you do, make sure you’ve checked out these safety tips: 

6 ways to prevent car break-ins at trailheads | PEMCO Insurance 

Solo road trips| PEMCO Insurance 

Traveling with your pet – 12 tips for a safe, enjoyable trip ( 

Oh, and don’t forget to double-check your car insurance coverage before you hit the road. A licensed PEMCO agent can help ensure your policy provides all necessary coverage based on your own unique needs. You can get a free policy review at any time when you call 1-800-GO-PEMCO. 



More articles like this from PEMCO: 

PNW summer road trip ideas 

A Northwest secret: Thor's Well 

The best places to see fall foliage around the PNW 

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