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Shady Hikes for Hot Summer Days

This summer, take to the trees to enjoy some respite from the sun, and while away the hours basking in the simple sounds and delights that can only be found outside.

Nothing beats a shady trail meandering alongside a babbling brook, splashing stream or rushing river — especially in the heat of a Pacific Northwest summer afternoon. This summer, take to the trees to enjoy some respite from the sun, and while away the hours basking in the simple sounds and delights that can only be found outside. Here are 16 shade-loving hikes to try across the state.

TIPS FOR HIKING IN SUMMER HEAT 


Mount Rainier Area

Stevens Canyon Waterfalls

Location: Cayuse Pass/Stevens Canyon
Mileage: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1675 feet

stevens BPWA.jpeg
One of four waterfalls viewable along the Stevens Canyon Waterfalls trail. Photo by BPW.

While most Rainier visitors tend to flock to either Paradise or Sunrise for in-your-face views of the mountain, this relatively quiet hike in the southeast corner of the park offers a very different perspective on the geology and flora of the area. Instead of mountain peaks you’ll find old-growth forest and cascading waterfalls — no fewer than four! 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Paul Peak

Location: Carbon River/Mowich
Mileage: 6.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 900 feet

paul tookthescenicroute.jpeg
A glimpse of Mount Rainier is just one of the rewards along the Paul Peak trail. Photo by tookthescenicroute.

Offering a unique view of the northwest flanks of Rainier, the Paul Peak trail also begins in an unexpected way — downhill. Of course, this means an uphill return, but as you’ll be traveling on a gentle grade in shady old-growth forest after having rested alongside the Mowich River on a soft, sandy bank (perfect for napping), there’s little chance you’ll mind.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Twin Firs Loop

Location: Longmire/Paradise
Mileage: 0.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Twin Firs Loop. Photo by Karen.jpeg
Dappled sunshine along the Twin Firs Loop. Photo by trip reporter Karen.

This short, family-friendly trail is a great spot for viewing impressive old growth and finding a reprieve from the strong summer sunshine.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Southwest Washington 

Gillette Lake and Greenleaf Overlook

Location: Columbia River Gorge
Mileage: 8.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 650 feet

Gillette Lake.jpeg
A perfect place to rest and lunch in the shade. Photo by Anna Roth. 

Travel along the “Green Tunnel” — an iconic portion of the Pacific Crest Trail comprised of dense tree canopies and foliage arching overhead. This is a working forest with an active logging road, and while signs of civilization (in the form of power lines) persist here, so too do the impressive natural landscapes.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Cedar Flats River Trail

Location: Lewis River Region
Mileage: 1.1 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 67 feet

Cedar Flats Nature Trail. Photo by thatchio.jpeg
A shaded bridge along the trail. Photo by trip reporter thatchio.

Located in a 112-acre old growth forest, this short, peaceful stroll through deep, quiet forest is perfect for children and grown ups alike. The old growth grove begins immediately upon entering the forest from the road with a tall canopy and fern dominated understory.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


PAnther Creek Experimental Forest

Location: Columbia River Gorge
Mileage: 7.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1200 feet

Panther Creek Experimental Forest. Photo by VeganHiker..jpeg
Peek-a-boo view of Mount Hood from the trail. Photo by trip reporter VeganHiker.

Hike a short section of the Pacific Crest Trail through an experimental forest all the way up to a high point at Big Huckleberry Mountain (though the views aren't much from the top, you'll enjoy some peek-a-boos from the forest on the way up).

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


South Cascades

Dry Creek

Location: Mount Adams Area
Mileage: 8.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 350 feet

dry justpeachy.jpeg
A soothing stretch of green along the Dry Creek trail. Photo by justpeachy.

With only 350 feet of total elevation gain, this trail is hikeable by almost all. It also hosts an impressive old-growth forest, complete with Douglas firs, bigleaf maples and hemlocks. At about 4 miles in, you’ll get a chance to cool your feet in Bourbon Creek.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


BLUFF LAKE

Location: Got Rocks Wilderness 
Mileage: 3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

Bluff Lake. Photo SlowBoarder..jpeg
 Inviting Bluff Lake. Photo by SlowBoarder. 

This lesser-known trail takes you through the dense, beautiful Goat Rocks Wilderness Area, providing ample amount of shade to escape the summer heat. In the summer months be on the lookout for red huckleberry bushes that line the first half mile of the trail. A perfect hike for those interested in escaping the heat and summer crowds. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Central Cascades

Kelley Creek via Martin Creek Trailhead

Location: Stevens Pass
Mileage: 5.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1100 feet

Kelley Creek via Martin Creek Trailhead. Photo by norm.jpeg
Creeks, waterfalls, new trail connections and shady canopies galore on the Kelley Creek trail. Photo by Norm 

Traverse underneath old bridges and the concrete remains of trestle supports. Be sure to take time to pause and read the interpretive signs sprinkled along the beginning portions of this shade-filled hike to learn a little of the history of this area. Bonus: WTA worked here to connect the old Kelley Creek trail, allowing greater accessibility to the Iron Goat trail. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Quartz Creek

Location: Stevens Pass
Mileage: 8.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet

Quartz Creek. Photo by Bob and Barb.jpeg
The thick overstory along Quartz Creek is perfect for shielding hikers from the hot sun or the classic PNW drizzle. Photo by trip reports Bob and Barb.

Hike through shady forest, accompanied by the sound of Quartz Creek, little waterfalls, wildflowers and interesting things to see on this trail. Go for as little or as long as you like -- there are plenty of options to Mileageen your hike with a side trip to Curry Cap or Bald Eagle.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Swauk Forest Discovery Trail

Location: Blewett Pass
Mileage: 2.45 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 660 feet

Swauk Forest. Photo by rupas.jpeg
Early fall colors popping out along the trail. Photo by trip reporter rupas.

This tree-lined trail is a wonderful place to learn about woodland ecosystems with 25 different interpretive stops and five log benches throughout that provide fascinating views. It also gives insight into an area recovering after a burn towards the end of the trail.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Snoqualmie Region

CCC ROAD: UPPER TRAILHEAD

Location: North Bend Area
Mileage: 6.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

CCC Road austineats.jpeg
A quiet trail through the trees in the busy Snoqualmie area? Absolutely. Photo by austineats. 

Looking for a shady, less-traveled hike along the I-90 corridor this summer? Try hiking the CCC Road: Upper Trailhead. Enjoy small stream crossings, peek-a-boo views and verdant forest as you meander along this 1930s era Civilian Conservation Corps-built road.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Location: North Bend Area
Mileage: 6.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail. Photo by Ups n Downs.jpeg
Although well-shaded in the summer, this trail also provides some lovely valley views in the winter months. Photo by trip reporter Ups and Downs.

Open to hikers, bikers and equestrians, this trail meanders through a densely wooded path, and intermittently offers unique perspectives of the Snoqualmie River Valley. Ultimately, it leads to a quiet, zoomed-out viewpoint of Snoqualmie Falls against the backdrop of Mount Si.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Asahel Curtis Nature trail

Location: North Bend Area
Mileage: 0.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 180 feet

Asahel Curtis. Photo by jimmygle.jpeg

The Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, named after a prominent Seattle photographer, is a super short loop just off of Interstate 90. With plenty to keep little ones occupied, and just enough mileage to give your legs a little workout, this is a delightful detour for anyone venturing west or east over Snoqualmie Pass.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


North Cascades

Peek-a-Boo Lake

Location: North Cascades/Mountain Loop Highway
Mileage: 5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet

Peek a Boo.jpeg
Cast away your cares and cool off with a dip in lovely little Peek-A-Boo Lake. Photo by alesha13.

Start off in second-growth forest that quickly gives way to old-growth. Lovely Peek-a-Boo lake gets little traffic and even less in the way of regular trail maintenance, but what you’ll find here instead is solitude and a great place for a summer swim.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Swift Creek

Location: North Cascades/Mount Baker Area
Mileage: 16 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet

swift creek rolando.jpeg
Lots of shade and streams, but little traffic on the Swift Creek Trail. Photo by rolando. 

There are no bridges built to ford either Swift Creek or Rainbow Creek, so late summer is a perfect time to hike this relatively seldom-visited portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail, as water levels tend to be lower. Route-finding may be necessary on this shade-and-stream filled hike.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide 


STETATTLE CREEK

Location: North Cascades  
Mileage: 6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1100 feet

A creek flowing through the forest.
Stetattle creek winding through mossy rocks. Photo by thowe. 

This trail leads hikers deep into the heart of the North Cascades. Walk along the narrow, mossy trail that eventually levels out and traverses the slope of Sourdough Mountain in the dry forest. Keep an eye out for the glimpses of huge snowy peaks looming above.

>Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide 


Eastern & Central Washington

Tucannon River Canyon (temporarily Closed due to Wilfire) 

Location: Eastern Washington/Palouse and Blue Mountains
Mileage: 8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

tucannon thetravelingschoonies.jpeg
Even in the heat of summer, cool shade can be found along the Tucannon River Canyon trail. Photo by thetravelingschoonies.

When the temperature spikes on the east side of the Cascades, head to this cool and shady trail offering lush forest, an easy grade and inviting campsites. You’ll pass briefly through the Wehaha-Tucannon Wilderness, which was created in 1978 to offer protection to one of the largest herds of Rocky Mountain elk.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Umtanum Creek falls

Location: Central Washington/Yakima
Mileage: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 700 feet

Umtanum Teriyaki.Handsome.jpeg
Find shade and relative solitude at Umtanum Creek Falls. Photo by Teriyaki.Handsome. 

An easy ramble underneath Douglas fir and Ponderosa pines, culminating at a sweet, 40-foot waterfall that sometimes cascades and sometimes trickles into the clearly defined bowl beneath. Enjoy the views from the top, or scramble below to feel the cooling mists. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Olympic Peninsula

Duckabush River

Location: Olympic Peninsula/Hood Canal
Mileage: 10.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet

Duckabush.jpeg
A perfect place to cool off in the heat of a summer afternoon. Photo by ThePachynerd.

A delight for those who love wandering in the woods, Duckabush offers moss, ferns, old-growth tree canopies and a gorgeous blue-green river rushing nearby. This is an old burn area, and WTA volunteers and staff are often on trail to clear fallen trees and make repairs.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


TUNNEL CREEK

Location: Olympic Peninsula/Hood Canal 
Mileage: 9.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,450 feet

Tunnel Creek Muledeer.jpeg
Harrison Lake along the Tunnel Creek trail. Photo by Muledeer.

Although no actual tunnel exists on the Tunnel Creek trail, you will find two charming lakes, stands of old-growth Douglas fir and hemlocks and shade o'plenty. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Puget Sound and Islands

Stimpson Nature Preserve

Location: Puget Sound and Islands/Bellingham area
Mileage: 4.9 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Stimpson.jpegGet away from it all without leaving the city. Photo by twokidsbadknees.

This 350-acre preserve of undisturbed old-growth forest is accessible by public transportation — a bus stop is located directly across from the parking lot — making this urban retreat even easier to enjoy on a hot summer day.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


black diamond open space

Location: Puget Sound and Islands/Seattle-Tacoma area
Mileage:17.0 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: 700 feet

Black Diamond Open Space Bob Zimmerman.jpeg
Explore 17 miles of non-motorized trails at Black Diamond Open Space. Photo by Bob Zimmerman.

Two miles north of Black Diamond (and less than an hour from Seattle) lies this 1,240-acre swath of forest, wetlands, peat bogs and streams. Bonus for birders: The area is one portion of the Wildlife Habitat Network, offering a protected migratory corridor for wildlife. Double bonus: Public transportation options exist for trailhead access. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Washington Park

Location: Anacortes Area 
Mileage: 2.2 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: 280 feet

Golden grass on a bluff overlooking the blue water with an island in the distance.
The contrast of colors at Washington Park makes for spectacular scenery. Photo by Mike. 

Washington Park offers a multitude of trails that go between shady forest and the sunny bluffs overlooking the water. Do the loop to take in all the scenery, then end at the beach and boat dock for a swim. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Don't forget to file a trip report after your hike — we rely on our fellow hikers' updates on road and trail conditions to keep our hiking guide entries current!