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Spring Hike Ideas for Washington's National Parks Week

Posted by Loren Drummond at Apr 15, 2016 06:50 PM |

Saturday kicks off the start of National Parks Week. From April 16-24, you can visit any National Park without paying an entrance fee. Get a few ideas for snow-free places to celebrate.

This year, the National Parks Service is celebrating their centennial, and Saturday kicks off the start of National Parks Week. From April 16-24, you can visit any National Park without paying an entrance fee.

Washington has many terrific lands within the National Parks system, from historic sites like Nez Perce, Minedonka and Klondike Gold Rush to the big hiking favorites of Olympic, North Cascades and Mount Rainier. (See all of Washington's parks and monuments.)

But this time of year, many trails within Washington's most iconic National Parks are still covered in snow. Below are a few of our picks from parks and monuments for taking a snow-free hike this week.

Whatever trail you visit, in a National Park or not, let us know how and where you celebrate with a trip report!

Young Hill and Bell Point, San Juan Islands Historic Park

young hill and bell point view thewaiting28
Enjoy expansive views into Canada from Young Hill and Bell Point. Photo by thewaiting28.

Young Hill and Bell Point makes a great combo outing to check out two separate trails in Washington's newest National Monument. Don't forget to stop by English Camp to learn about the American/English dispute that almost erupted here.

Two trails in Olympic National Park

Misty day on the Quinault River trail
Fog finally parting along the Quinault River. Photo from WTA archives.

Enjoy the tangle of trails along the Quinault Rainforest Nature Trails, where both young children and more seasoned hikers can spend an hour, the afternoon, or even a full day exploring. There are up to ten miles of trails to experience, so be sure to grab your map and plot your trip here.

Looking to make a weekend outing of it? Include a few beach hikes. Want more rainforest? Head to the Hoh River's Hall of Mosses.

Thunder Creek, North Cascades National Park

Thunder Creek bridge in April
The bridge in to McAllister Camp on the Thunder Creek trail. Photo by Ben Fox.

Highway 20 is still closed for the winter, and many of the choice North Cascades National Park trails are still under a blanket of snow, but Panther Creek or Thunder Creek both make for great river walks, where you can gaze at the peaks high above, scouting them for your summer adventures.

Huckleberry Creek, Mount Rainier National Park

Huckleberry Creek cabin Rainier.jpg
The old Ranger Patrol Cabin on the Huckleberry Creek Trail. Photo by by George & Sally.

Huckleberry Creek is a little-used trail begins outside of the national park proper, but it provides a nice gateway to lush forest in the park itself. Pass the remains of an old ranger cabin and wander along a creekside trail on your way into Washington's most popular park.

Another area to explore while you wait for the rest of Mount Rainier snows to melt is the Carbon River area. A wilderness walk-in campground is open (after a 5-mile hike) at Ipsut Creek which provides ample opportunities for backpackers explore this lovely area. For a day hike, try the trail up to Ranger Creek Falls and Green Lake.

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