Ihave said it before and will say it again – Lewis County is ridiculously pretty. Each season that passes over our rivers, lakes, forests and mountains brings something unique and gorgeous to the landscape of our home region. But the return of the wildflowers is an event that continually inspires wanderlust and adventure. Each spring and summer, as the gray clouds disappear and the sky is replaced with a stunning blue, the ground seems to celebrate, transforming into a vibrant tapestry of color.
The best hikes are found along the slopes of Rainier and in the Cascades, where panoramic bliss and fields of flowers can be found. The wildflower bloom around Lewis County’s Cascades is one of the best excuses to get out of the house and hit the region’s remarkable trails. Whether you want an easy walk with the family or are longing to stand on a ridge line and recreate the iconic scene from The Sound of Music, there’s a trail waiting for you. While there are literally hundreds of places to go, we have five locations that are sure to delight the anthophile in you.
Goat Creek Trail
South of Riffe Lake and north of Mount Saint Helens, Goat Creek Trail makes for a fun hike with a good opportunity to see seasonal wildflowers and awesomely great waterfalls. Sure, the stunning trek is a bit much for families with younger kids, but this 11 mile out-and-back hike is mostly flat and beautiful. Gaining just 400 feet in elevation, you’ll find Trillium blooming in the spring months, contrasting against the lush green undergrowth. Capped off with the fantastic Cathedral Falls, you’ll be glad you discovered this often overlooked hike.
Rainbow Falls State Park
Located 16 miles west of Chehalis and Interstate 5, Rainbow Falls State Park is great place for an easy hike. In the spring, seasonal, local wildflowers can be found along the three miles of hiking trails, showing off the beauty of the lower Willapa Hills. With rhododendron and trillium blooming, as well as a chance to see the pretty falls, you’ll enjoy this family-friendly hiking destination. This is also one of the few places to hike in an old growth forest, perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
Burroughs Mountain at Sunrise
While the lowland hikes are nice, the region’s true wildflower beauty is found where the air is thinner. High above the rivers and cities, Mount Rainier’s sunrise region will have you in awe over the dazzling wildflower displays. Blooming once the snow is melted in mid to late summer, one of the best hikes in the area to see a myriad of wildflowers is the Burroughs Mountain Trail. This family-friendly trail is great for kids and offers some of the best views of glaciers in the contiguous United States. Do not miss heading to sunrise and walking this trail, if only for a mile or two!
Short, steep and stunning, the Rampart Ridge Trail near Longmire in Mount Rainier National Park is a great early season hike to see some wildflowers. At 4.6 miles in length, this loop hike is best trekked clockwise, giving the most impressive views of Rainier. In early June, this trail sees a pretty good bloom of wildflowers, including Calypso orchids growing in the shade of old growth forests. This trail starts along Longmire’s Trail of the Shadows Nature Trail, which should give you a good whiff of skunk cabbage in the spring months.
Naches Peak Loop
Starting at the always scenic Tipsoo Lake on the east side of Mount Rainier, the Naches Peak Loop trail is spectacular at sunrise, during the day and at sunset. While a bit harder for young kids, this family-friendly hike is just 3.5 miles long and gains 500 feet. For the best hiking experience, head clockwise on the loop trail for the most majestic views. During the summer months, the area erupts in wildflowers, making it an ideal high alpine loop hike. With amazing views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade mountains, this hike is sure to be a memorable experience.
We saved the best for last, as the Grand Park hike near Mount Rainier leads you to one of the best wildflower experiences in Washington State. Full of mesmerizing views of Mount Rainier, the eight-mile round trip trek to Grand Park rewards those who make the hike with wildflowers that will leave you dragging your jaw on the ground out of sheer awe.
Starting at Lake Eleanor, the trail gains just 1,100 feet in elevation, taking you to a picturesque valley with wildflowers covering the iconic volcano’s slopes. Blooming in the summer months, this hike is a must for anyone who loves mountain views, stunning wildflowers and beautiful wilderness.