All around social media, it seems like we see the same images of our friends and family members out in nature. Scrolling through our phones, we observe endless images of people we know, standing atop Mt. Si, exploring Rattlesnake Ledge, trekking around Paradise or frolicking at Franklin Falls.
Each is a wonderful adventure in itself, but those destinations leave nothing new or exciting for us to see. While we could take the same pictures at these familiar locations this summer, the Pacific Northwest is a treasure trove of breath-taking panoramas and home to some of the richest natural beauty on the planet. There are literally thousands of places to hike and explore, all just a short drive away.
To start, explore these five destinations, where your Instagram pictures and snaps will become the envy of your squad. The journey and views you take in will reward you with lifelong memories of the gorgeousness of the Evergreen State and further fuel your wanderlust. This summer, get outdoors, explore the wild and share the adventure everywhere you can.
High Rock Lookout
Out toward Mount Rainier, high above the Nisqually River, High Rock Lookout has one of the best views in the Pacific Northwest. Found after a short hike, 3.2 miles round trip, with 1,365 feet of vertical gain in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, this trail is steep and extremely exposed but provides one of the greatest views around.
To the north the panorama is stunning. Dropping nearly a thousand feet in places, the rocky outcropping gets you up close and personal with the Nisqually River Valley and a breath-taking view of Mt Rainier. To the left of the lookout tower and down the trail a bit, the ideal spot for pictures can be found, highlighting you, the tower and Rainier perfectly. Be aware that the exposed ledges have caused numerous visitors severe vertigo, with a handful of search and rescue operations occurring each and every year. To the south the grade is somewhat gentle, providing views of forested hills, as well as the summits of Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, the Goat Rocks and Mount Hood.
After a short, but sweet and classic, hike along the Hood Canal side of the Olympic Peninsula, Murhut Falls is another great picture location. The trail itself is nothing much, but the falls and the unofficial trails around the lower and upper waterfalls make this a perfect place for pictures, a picnic or just a place to sit and enjoy nature. The short trail is less than two miles round trip and extremely simple with huge pay-offs for those who explore the falls off trail. The main waterfall, which pounds down two tiers that total 170 feet, is a great attraction with trails leading to the base of both tiers. Here, enjoy the spray of the water, endless picture opportunities and this lesser-known waterfall by the Duckabush River.
Located in the Ohanapecosh region of Mount Rainier National Park, Silver Falls should be more popular than it currently is. Found along a three mile round trip trek, Silver Falls highlights the beauty of the Ohanapecosh River, capped off with a stunning waterfall. The trail weaves through old growth forests that reach toward the heavens. Deer, woodpeckers and even an occasional bear proliferate the area. While you can get closer to the water near the falls, be aware that the rocks are quite slippery and dangerous with many injuries occurring due to people taking unnecessary risks.
Mount Ellinor is one of the most popular mountains to hike on the Olympic Peninsula and for good reason. It has one of the best views in the Pacific Northwest, letting you take in a drool-inducing panorama after a short, but steep hike. When you climb above Lake Cushman, the Hood Canal and Puget Sound, the views, both along the Mount Ellinor Trail and at the summit, show off stunning rocky cliffs, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Baker and even the city of Seattle.
Your most dynamic picture from the summit of Mount Ellinor will either be discovering a mountain goat in the distance (stay 50 yards away at all times) or looking north at the breathtaking summit of nearby Mount Washington. From the top you also get a view of the Olympic interior, including a glimpse of Mount Olympus to the west.
Lake of the Angels
One of the all-time classic hikes, the Lake of the Angels Trail is a gnarly beast of wilderness bliss above the Hamma Hamma River. Gaining 3,358 feet in elevation over nearly four miles of hiking, the Carl Putvin/Lake of the Angels Trail is one of the steepest, and most rewarding, day hikes in the state of Washington. Picture highlights include the headwall section of the trail, the Pond of the False Prophet and, of course, the Lake of the Angels. Once you are at the lake, keep an eye out for marmots and mountain goats, both of which constantly frequent the region. Those looking for an even greater adventure should keep hiking past the lake toward Mount Skokomish, where another stunning view is found.