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Long Loops, Routes and Traverses for Spring

How does one squeeze in big miles during the springtime? The key is to create longer loops and traverses that link up shorter trails and forest roads.

Spring in Washington can be a difficult time for hikers. We've been cooped up all winter and we're ready to hit the trails... but not every trail is quite ready for us. Snow continues to linger in the high country, and we're limited to a smaller number of trails to get our hiking fix — many of which are shorter or with less elevation gain.

So, how do you hike big miles on clear trail in the spring? The key is to create longer loops and traverses that link up shorter trails and the occasional forest road. With a little creativity and planning, you can create an incredible adventure. We mapped out 8 routes here to get you started, but we also encourage you to try your hand at crafting your own.

Spring Safety Essentials

Refresh your memory of the Ten Essentials and take note of a few that are particularly important for long spring hikes:

    • Map and compassYou should always carry these items, but but for these routes, they are especially important to avoid getting lost.
    • Food and water. You'll be out there for a while! Don't skimp on the food and water while packing for your trip.
    • Adequate extra clothing. While it may be pleasant when you begin your hike, spring weather in Washington is notorious for changing quickly and dramatically.
    • First Aid kit. When was the last time you looked at your first aid kit? Spring is the time to open it up and replenish its stores. You'll be happy you did when the first blister appears.

Hog Canyon Lake + Folsom Farm

Location: Eastern Washington — Spokane Area
Length: 5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 469 feet
Highest Point:
2243 feet

Hog Canyon Lake
The lake at Hog Canyon. Photo by combs.mariah.

The Folsom Farms and Hog Canyon Lake trails make a perfect loop with the addition of a little road walking. Your loop can begin from either trailhead, and will take you through lovely rangeland with aspen groves, waterfall views and birding opportunities. And if 5 miles isn't quite enough for you, don't fret.

Fishtrap Lake Recreation Area is fairly extensive and offers plenty of options to extend and build off this base route. A figure eight route including Fishtrap Lake to the south can get you upwards of 13 miles!

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Hog Canyon | Folsom Farms


Manastash Loop

Location: Central Washington — Ellensburg
Length: 7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1860 feet
Highest Point: 3554 feet

Manastash Ridge
Balsamroot in bloom on the way to the Manastash summit. Photo by AlpsDayTripper.

Manastash Ridge has so many routes to the top — and it's no surprise, given the wonderful, wide open views and year-round hikeability. Rather than hiking out-and-back via the popular Westberg trail, you can add on a few more miles (and find a bit more solitude) by connecting a few of the smaller trails. You can browse the hikes in our guide to make your own, or follow the route we drew here. It starts at the main parking lot, heads east on the Chest Pains trail, then west to link up with the Clifford trail to the summit. Return to the parking area via the Cheeky Bugger trail.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Manastash Ridge trails 


Stacker Butte + Crawford Oaks

Location: Southwest Washington — Columbia River Gorge
Length: 14.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3061 feet
Highest Point: 3207 feet

Columbia Hills State Park
The iconic rusted out car along the Stacker Butte trail. Photo by jessexplored.

Can't get enough of spring wildflowers? This long, lollipop loop through Columbia Hills State Park may be your best bet for catching views of them this season. By combining Stacker Butte and Crawford Oaks you can really maximize trail time during your visit (and skip out on the chassis-rattling drive up to the Stacker Butte trailhead). We'd recommend starting from the Crawford Oaks trailhead.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Stacker Butte | Crawford Oaks


Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail + North Head Trail + McKenzie Head

Location: Southwest Washington — Ilwaco
Length: 4.7 miles (traverse) or 8.4 miles (out-and-back)
Elevation Gain: 1581 feet
Highest Point: 217 feet

Cape Disappointment
Approaching North Head Lighthouse. Photo by KatieJM.

Starting from the Discovery Trail trailhead in downtown Ilwaco, hikers can venture into the heart of Cape Disappointment State Park completely by foot. After winding through scenic forest, you'll pop up to two iconic viewpoints in the park: North Head Lighthouse and McKenzie Head. Then, you'll head back the way you came. If you have the option of a car shuttle, you can shorten this trek into a one-way traverse and leave a second car at the McKenzie Head trailhead.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail | North Head Trail | McKenzie Head


Mima Falls + McKenny Trail

Location: Olympic Peninsula — Olympia
Length: 12.9 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2944 feet
Highest Point:
1286 feet

Mima Falls + McKenny Loop
The falls at Mima Falls. Photo by Laura Baron.

This loop comprises most of the eastern portion of Capitol State Forest, and is a great way to extend the classic Mima Falls loop. Starting from either the Margaret McKenny Campground or the Mima Falls trailhead, this loop will travel through lush forest and quiet wetlands. The falls will likely be rushing with the onset of warmer weather.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Mima Falls | McKenny Trail


Big Tree + Tradition Lake + Section Line + Cable Line + Adventure Trail

Location: Issaquah Alps — Tiger Mountain
Length: 8.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3314 feet
Highest Point: 2715 feet

Tiger Mountain Loop
A scenic, fern-covered stretch of the Cable Line Trail section. Photo by kidz won't hike.

The Issaquah Alps have seemingly infinite loop and traverse options and an excellent spot for early season conditioning. This route routes starts, conveniently, right in town at the East Sunset Way trailhead. This large loop includes highlights such as swamp stories, lake views and two peaks.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Big Tree| Tradition Lake | Section Line | Cable Line | Adventure Trail


Sugarloaf + Whistle Lake + Heart Lake

Location: Puget Sound and Islands — Anacortes
Length: 9.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2190 feet
Highest Point: 1055 feet

Anacortes Community Forest
A view over Whistle Lake with Mount Erie in the background. Photo by muledeer.

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands are a natural gem in the heart of Fidalgo Island, with wetlands, lakes, and rocky bald meadows with great views. This long loop hits some of our favorite spots across the forest, and only requires some brief road walking. As a true loop, this hike can be started from any of the trailheads below.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Sugarloaf | Whistle Lake| Heart Lake


Mount Constiution via Mountain Lake + Twin Lakes and Mount Pickett

Location: San Juan Islands — Orcas Island
Length: 10.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3312 feet
Highest Point:
2404 feet

Mount Constitution via Mountain Lake + Twin Lakes and Mount Pickett
The view below Mount Constitution. Photo by Phauntus.

A triple whammy! This loop is the perfect tour du Moran State Park with stops atop the iconic Mount Constitution as well as the lesser visited Twin Lakes and Mount Pickett. You'll need to traverse some bits of park road to make this work, but the majority of your route will take place along beautifully maintained trails. We'd recommend starting your trek from the Mountain Lake parking lot and grabbing a park map before you embark.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide: Mount Constitution via Mountain Lake | Twin Lakes and Mount Pickett