Go see the forest for the leaves! Hike state parks this fall
Listen to the music of the river as you drink in the fall colors at Riverside State Park. Photo: Roger Lynn.
Sept. 25, 2018
Ahhh … Fall!
The autumn air is crisp, the bugs (and crowds) are at a minimum, and the natural world is at its jewel-toned peak. It’s time for a hike!
A brisk stroll through the cool air and colorful leaves is one of autumn’s most divine and invigorating rituals. Pulling on a sweater and hiking boots, pouring a mug of hot coffee and setting out for your favorite trail is enough to get you giddy!
Looking for inspiration? Here are just a few state park hikes to try this fall.
Riverside State Park
The mix of pine and deciduous trees at Riverside State Park is eye popping in fall. Enjoy this eastern Washington park with a stroll along the Spokane River. Bring the camera — the reflection of the trees on the water is nothing short of wall-worthy.
Willapa Hills State Park Trail
Pure satisfaction, right off Interstate 5! Willapa Hills State Park Trail traverses stunning country dotted with rocky rivers, bridges, trestles, farm fields and, of course, beautiful fall trees, as it wends westward toward the mighty Pacific. Come explore the recently completed 4 miles of trail improvements (bringing the total to 26) that are accessible from the Chehalis trailhead.
'Maple' you'll find some stunning views when you hike through Wallace Falls State Park this fall.
Wallace Falls State Park
Waterfall, lake and river views are the big draws at this park near the town of Gold Bar, west of Stevens Pass. Hikes through changing alder and maple are a hiker’s paradise. Take the Greg Ball Trail out to Wallace Lake, or head west on Woody Trail to viewpoints of Lower, Middle and Upper falls.
Beacon Rock State Park
Beacon Rock State Park is known for great camping and top-notch rock climbing (Check conditions before climbing). But did you know it also has some sizzling fall color hikes? The rich reds, oranges and yellows of changing alder and maple leaves set the scenery aglow with colors. See them up close while hiking multiple trails that scurry over creeks and up ridges to heights like Hamilton Mountain Summit—and even the top of Beacon Rock. Be sure to sit still along the river banks and watch for deer in search of berries among the fall leaves.
Decked out in an evergreen crown, the Cascades Mountains make a magnificent backdrop for the fall colors at Lake Easton. Photo: Gene Bisbee.
Lake Easton State Park
At just 15 miles east of Snoqualmie Pass in Cle Elum, the park is a little over an hour from the hustle and bustle of Seattle. Lake Easton State Park turns into a winter wonderland during the snowy season. But fall? Wildlife and vibrant foliage dazzle. Hike on the 6.5 miles of trail along the Yakima River and Lake Easton to truly experience fall. For a back-country hike, US Forest Service trails on Easton Ridge are popular for viewing wildlife big and small.
Larrabee State Park
Top off a luxurious ride on beautiful Chuckanut Drive with a visit to Washington’s original state park — Larrabee! Fall colors abound and the rocky coastline astounds at this Samish Bay beauty. Enjoy a pretty, peaceful walk with your sweetie up to picturesque Lost or Fragrance lakes.
New to hiking? Read the Washington Trails Association guides
The WTA website is a great resource for getting started, plus hiker trip reports for the latest trail updates.
Give us the scoop on your favorite fall hiking spots!
Share your Washington state park hiking photos and stories with us here.