3 Great Hikes for Spring

Old Sauk River Trail


The Old Sauk River Trail offers the spring hiker an easy opportunity to explore the rich textures of a vibrant rainforest, on par with the legendary lushness of the Olympic Peninsula. Along the way, you’ll pass through remnants of towering old-growth forest, curtains of hanging lichen, an understory carpeted with emerald green moss, luxurious fern gardens, and enough mushrooms and fungi to tantalize even the most discriminating mycologist. The river is not always in view, but the rhapsodic music of flowing water can be heard throughout your walk. Here and there, openings in the thick forest afford opportunities to stop and watch eagles fishing in the roiling current. There are several access points—my recommendation is to start at the north trailhead and walk the length of the trail, enjoying the lavish greenery all the way to Murphy Creek and back for a six-mile journey through the intensely green heart of the rainforest.

Trailhead: From Darrington, drive south on the Mountain Loop Highway (FS-20) for four miles to the north trailhead.  No permit required.

Pipestone Canyon


The 4-mile out-and-back trail into the Methow’s Pipestone Canyon provides a welcome early-season hike that follows an old roadbed, popular with mountain bikers, into a picturesque canyon rimmed with sandstone hoodoos. This is open country, a breath of fresh air after a long winter, and wildflowers often illuminate the canyon floor. The trail winds down into the canyon, passes through aspen groves, and then breaks into an expansive meadow filled with birdsong. The going is easy, and the spring sunshine is abundant!

Trailhead: From Winthrop, drive the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road for two miles and turn left on Bear Creek Rd. After 2.3 miles, turn right on Lester Rd., taking the right fork to the trailhead parking lot. Washington State Discover Pass required.

Third Beach


As an introduction to the splendor of the wild Olympic Coast, the hike to Third Beach affords ready access to a dramatic destination where waves pound offshore sea stacks and a spectacular waterfall plunges more than 100 feet off a cliff into the Pacific. From the trailhead, the route winds through mossy coastal forest for 1.4 miles, eventually dropping to the beach where it is necessary to negotiate a jumble of driftwood logs to gain access to the beach proper. The beach offers easy walking to the south, eventually reaching a headland that must be climbed using the provided ‘sand ladder’. From here, the South Coast Wilderness Trail leads to wonders such as Strawberry Point and Toleak Point, marquee destinations for the intrepid (and well-prepared) coastal hiker. NPS Backcountry Permit required for overnight use.

Trailhead: From Port Angeles, drive US-101 for approximately 55 miles, turning right on WA-110 approximately 1.5 miles north of Forks. In 10 miles, the Third Beach Trailhead is on the left. No permit required.

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