Lewis County could possibly be in the running for the prettiest county in the Pacific Northwest. From stunning mountains, insanely gorgeous waterfalls and panoramic views, the natural wonders of Lewis County are considered by locals to be second to none. Whether you want to cool off near a waterfall, explore the snowy heights of picturesque mountains or just roam through forests over 1,000 years old, all you have to do is spend some time in Lewis County.
High Rock Lookout
On the north side of the county, above the Nisqually River, one of the most majestic and stunning views of the Pacific Northwest is found atop a craggy cliff, and known as High Rock Lookout. A 3.2-mile hike leads to breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams and Mount Hood from one spot. Just 20 miles as the crow flies away from the 5,685-foot High Rock Lookout, Mount Rainier towers over you by nearly 9,000 feet. There are no mountains or hills blocking your view that many consider to be one of the best in the nation.
Goat Rocks Wilderness
Once a volcano, the Goat Rocks Wilderness is one of the most underrated and breathtaking wilderness areas in the state of Washington. At over 100,000 acres, Goat Rocks is best seen from the summit of Gilbert Peak, which stands at more than 8,000 feet above sea level. From here, the entire Cascade Range stretches north and south, with the Pacific Crest Trail roaming through this pristine, high alpine wonderland. Full of mountain goats and 120 miles of trails, this is an ideal place to hike, backpack and rediscover the majesty of the wild. Closest to Packwood on Highway 12, the Goat Rocks make an excellent part of your summer plans.
Located near the Cispus Environmental Learning Center, where the majority of local sixth graders spend a night or two for camp, the 3.4-mile Angel Falls Loop trail is one of the gems of Lewis County. Gaining just 300 feet in elevation, this well-maintained trail passes by two gorgeous waterfalls, separated by beautiful forests of ferns and tall trees. This trail is great for the warm summer days, or checking out after heavy rains or melting snow high above. With cliffs hanging over the trail and even a few caves to explore, the Angel Falls Loop Trail is the perfect way to get familiar with the natural beauty of the county.
Mount Rainier National Park
As one of the most iconic mountains in North America, Mount Rainier is accessible through Lewis County, with many of the popular destinations found within the region’s boundaries. Whether you visit Longmire and explore the breathtaking views from atop Eagle Peak or gaze at the majesty of the mountain from Reflection Lakes, adventures at Mount Rainier in Lewis County are some of the best adventures you can have anywhere in the country’s numerous public lands. Mount Rainier National Park is the second most visited national park in Washington State.
Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Morton, the Goat Creek Trail leads to one of the county’s top destinations. Cathedral Falls is a 250-foot-tall waterfall that plunges down into a punchbowl, letting eager explorers hike behind the cascading waters. Family-friendly and less than a mile to reach, this waterfall is as breathtaking as they get. This is also one of the most picture-friendly waterfalls around, so if you want the ultimate selfie or family nature pic, you should head here.
Grove of the Patriarchs
Also located in Mount Rainier National Park and in Lewis County, the Ohanapecosh River’s Grove of the Patriarchs is worth a highlight. Walking this well-maintained, family-friendly trail, wander under and around 1,000-year-old trees and through incredible forest. Capped off with a suspension bridge between sections of the wooden boardwalk, the Grove of the Patriarchs is one of the best hikes for everyone in Mount Rainier National Park. While it doesn’t offer mountain views, it does provide a plethora of information about the forests and the geology of our backyard. At just 1.5 miles round trip and accessible during the summer and fall months, this makes a great weekend destination.
Old Growth at Lewis and Clark State Park
Located right off of Interstate 5, Lewis and Clark State Park is often overlooked or dismissed as a recreation or natural wonder. However, within the boundary of the park, a stand of ancient and beautiful old growth trees make this a must-see destination. Lewis and Clark State Park is a fantastic place to explore, offering five miles of hiking trails, an old growth forest exhibit, information about the Oregon Trail Spur and the location of the first American pioneer home built north of the Columbia River. The park is also a great place for camping and picnicking, making it ideal for a quick afternoon adventure.