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Hike the Rainbow: Get a Flower Show on a Trail Near You

Washington is full of colorful wildflowers. Here's where you can find flowers of each color of the rainbow.

Several photos of wildflowers lined up next to each other to make a rainbow.
Paintbrush, photo by Stacy Davis. Balsamroot, photo by Leigh Hancock. Fiddleheads, photo by Archana Bhat. Lupine, photo by Marissa Singleton. Fireweed, photo by Aaron Wells. 

From late spring to midsummer, trails come alive with color. Hikers can see a huge variety of flowers: rhododendrons, paintbrush, lupine, phlox, and many, many others.

As the snow melts higher and higher, you can follow those radiant reds, stunning yellows, deep blues and rich purples into ever-higher elevations. Remember while you're loving those blooms, they're sensitive little lifeforms. To ensure they're there for future hikers to enjoy, stay on the trail, and please refrain from picking them. 

Find More wildflower hikes

There are plenty of places with excellent flowers, our list is just a start. Try these tips to find even more trails. 

  • Filter your search on WTA's Hiking Guide, by choosing the filter, "Trail Features and Rating" on the left side, then checking the box for "Wildflowers/Meadows." 
  • Search Trip Reports by using the Keyword filter under "Advanced Options." You can search for a general phrase like, "wildflowers" or by specific flower names to find hikes where others have come across certain species. 
  • For common red and pink flowers, try searching for pacific rhododendron, paintbrush, or bleeding heart. 
  • For common yellow and orange flowers, try searching yellow aster, hellebore, balsamroot, or skunk cabbage.
  • For common blue flowers, try searching gentian, lupine, bluebells, or shooting stars.
  • For common purple flowers, try searching for phlox, lupine, bitterroot, or camas.

Depending on the time of year, some of these trails may still be under snow. Check the trip reports for each one to see the most current conditions, and help out your fellow hikers by writing a trip report for your hike. Be sure to include pictures of all the flowers you find. 


Reds And Pinks

The rich, vibrant tones of red and pink punctuate any forest or slope with a pop of color. These tones can likely be found in your local park as well as along trails deep in the mountains. From some of the first flowers in the spring to our state flower (the Pacific Rhododendron), pinks and reds are well represented in our natural scenery.

Three wildflower photos placed side by side showing red and pink flowers.
Pacific Bleeding Heart, hoto by DeAndra Perrigo. Paintbrush, photo by Ken Vensel. Red Flowering Currant, photo by Bob and Barb.

common red and pink Flowers:

Pacific Bleeding Heart: Found along the forest floor from low to middle elevations in moist conditions like ravines and streambanks. Blooms during the spring.
Common Paint Brush: Found from low to high elevations across the state. Blooms in the middle of summer.
Red Flowering Currant: Found in low to middle elevations in dry sites. Blooms in early spring.

Find Flowers on these Hikes:

Bluff Mountain: 12.0 miles, roundtrip; 890 feet of elevation gain
Soaring Eagle Regional Park: 12 miles of trails; elevation gain varies
Old Sauk ADA Loop: 1.0 mile, roundtrip; 200 feet of elevation gain 
Heart Lake via Lily Basin Trail: 13.0 miles, roundtrip; 1,900 feet of elevation gain
Deer Ridge: 9.8 miles, roundtrip, 2800 feet of elevation gain


Oranges, Yellows, and Greens

Pacific Northwest hikers are no stranger to the many hues of green — from the lime-green new growth on evergreens to the shag carpet of moss that covers many forest floors — but orange and yellow are special seasonal delights. From the glowing yellow beacons of skunk cabbage to alpine lilies, yellow and orange add a vibrant spark to the landscape.

Three photos placed side by side showing yellow wildflowers.
Skunk cabbage, photo by Kathy Riley. Balsamroot, photo by Dave Schuba. Tiger Lily, photo by Lisa Elliot.

Common yellow and orange Flowers:

Skunk Cabbage: Found in wet areas like swamps and seeps from low to middle elevations. Blooms in early spring.
Tiger Lily: Found in low to subalpine zones in meadows and open forests. Blooms in early summer.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot: Found most commonly in the shrub-steppe of eastern Washington. Blooms mid to late spring.

Find Flowers on These Hikes:

Mosier Twin Tunnels: 9.4 miles, roundtrip; 730 feet, elevation gain
Yelm-Tenino Trail: 29.0 miles, roundtrip; minimal elevation gain
Sugarloaf: 2.5 miles, roundtrip; 890 feet of elevation gain 
Miller Peak Loop: 12.9 miles, roundtrip; 3,600 feet of elevation gain 
Buckskin Ridge: 33.4 miles, roundtrip


Blues

The rich blues in these wildflowers are a welcome sight along any trail. Whether sprinkled throughout the kaleidoscope of colors in a subalpine meadow or cropping out of cracks in alpine scree, these flowers are a wonderful part of the natural bouquet.

Three photos placed side by side showing blue flowers.
Lupine, photo by Mandy Johnson. Larkspur, photo by AlpsDayTripper. Gentian, photo by Delton Young. 

common blue Flowers:

Dwarf mountain Lupine: Found in meadows and scree slopes in the subalpine and alpine zones. Blooms during the summer.
Larkspur: Found in grassy bluffs and meadows. More common in southern Washington. Blooms in late spring.
Explorer’s Gentian: Found in low to mid elevations in wet areas like bogs, streams, wetlands, wet meadows and lake shores. Blooms in late summer through fall.

Find Flowers on These Hikes:

Windy Pass: 7.0 miles, roundtrip; 1,300 feet, elevation gain
Pend Oreille County Park: 7.0 miles, roundtrip; elevation gain varies
Emmons Moraine: 3.0 miles, roundtrip; 900 feet, elevation gain
Indian Henry's Hunting Ground via Longmire: 12.0 miles, roundtrip; 2,520 feet, elevation gain 
Royal Basin - Royal Lake: 16.0 miles, roundtrip, 2650 feet of elevation gain


Purples

These regal shades color the petals of many wildflowers you’ll find along the trail. Common Camas sprouts from edible bulbs beneath the soil in remnant prairies while others are elusive streaks of color above the tree line.

Three photos placed side by side showing purple wildflowers.
Camas, photo by Stanny Stuart. Chocolate Lily, photo by Nutmeg. Purple Aster, photo by Chuck Davis.

common purple flowers

Camas: Found in low to middle elevations in grassy slopes or meadows. Blooms early to mid-spring.
Chocolate Lily: Found from sea level to the subalpine boundary in open areas. Blooms at irregular times.
Alpine Aster: Found in the subalpine zone west of the Cascade crest and in the Olympic Mountains. Blooms in Spring and Summer.

Find Flowers on These Hikes:

Sawtooth Ridge: 8.0 miles, roundtrip; 500 feet, elevation gain 
Lacamas Park - Lacamas Creek: 4.5 miles, roundtrip; 350 feet, elevation gain
Weldon Wagon Road: 5.4 miles, roundtrip; 1,290 feet, elevation gain
Cleman Mountain - Waterworks Canyon: 6.0 miles, roundtrip; 2,000 feet, elevation gain
Shorthorn: 5.6 miles, roundtrip; 1,400 feet, elevation gain