As the heavy, gray rainclouds of Washington State begin to recede and summer weather reintroduces itself to the community, citizens look for fun outdoor activities to get a healthy dose of vitamin D. One such activity that can improve your physical and mental well-being is hiking.

washington orthopaedic centerWhether you’re young, middle-aged or wise in years, hiking can help improve heart and lung functions, reduce depression by releasing endorphins and give a better night’s sleep, among countless other perks. If you’re looking for any of these benefits (or just love getting outside), but don’t want to travel too far to get them, there are some great local hiking spots.

Rainbow Falls State Park

One such place is Rainbow Falls State Park. This park offers up five hiking trails amounting to ten miles in total. There’s a small loop trail for beginners or those just wanting to take the scenic route, and there are longer trails for experienced hikers and those who want to challenge themselves. The Willapa Hills Trail allows horseback riding as well as hiking, but is less forested.

Rainbow Falls
The rushing waters of Rainbow Falls are beautiful and a reward to anyone visiting the park. ©LewisTalk

Though it does cost $10 for day use of the state park, it’s well worth it—there’s also fresh water fishing, swimming, seven miles of biking trails, bird-watching and a wide-open field for group activities. The money goes to good use through upkeep of the park. If you think you’ll frequent the hiking trails or other areas, it’s a smart idea to pay the $30 fee for a Discover Pass that allows use of the park, as well as all other state parks, all year long.

Seminary Hill Natural Area

If you prefer your hiking to be free, and you’re looking for a well-balanced hike with plenty of incline and decline, try out Seminary Hill in Centralia. It’s perfect for beginners because it has many branching trails adding up to only 2.5 miles. Shady and comfortably humid on hot days, the walk is relaxing. The sound of birds and cicadas and the fresh smell of nature are amazing. For any plant lover, Seminary Hill is a botanist’s dream. It has a plethora of greenery native to the Pacific Northwest.

Seminary Hill Lewis County
Steps lead up toward the beginning of the Seminary Hills Trail. ©LewisTalk

Airport Levee Trail

Another free option for anyone looking for a basic trail with little resistance is the Airport Levee Trail. Located behind the Chehalis-Centralia Airport, it’s a 3.5-mile walk along gravel and paved sidewalk, past the Chehalis strip mall of retail stores and Wal-Mart. The trail connects to the Airport Road Trail that leads to Centralia. Though it isn’t the greatest path for sightseeing, its centralized location is nice for those wanting exercise when they go out shopping.

Goat Creek Trail

Goat Creek Trail near Randle is a 5.5-mile trail roundtrip with beautiful views, including the Cathedral Falls waterfall where you can stop and fill up your water bottle. Open from May through November, it’s accessible for half of the year and is well worth the $5 National Forest Recreation Day E-pass or $30 dollar annual Northwest Forest Pass. Either pass can be purchased ahead of time on the USDA website.

Rainbow Falls Trails
Sunlight shines through the tall, slender trees, protecting hikers on their Rainbow Falls trails. ©LewisTalk

This hike allows dogs on leashes and it’s great for those with kids as a fun way to exercise and see the old growth trees of Washington State. There are no bridges over the stream crossings, so if you go on this hike, be extra careful when walking over the slippery rocks. It is best to bring a printed copy of directions to find the park simply because the trail head is on private property and can be tough to find. Your GPS may just get you completely lost and frustrated. Step-by-step directions are posted online.

Lewis County is surprisingly full of places to hike, so there’s bound to be a trail meant for you. I’ve only managed to name a few, but if you’re interested there are several more locations to visit for a good walk.

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