Most people wouldn’t think of going on a day hike when winter rolls in, but there are some regions of the country that aren’t beleaguered by heavy snows and below freezing temperatures, one of which is Washington state. The cloak of winter almost gives these places an unearthly, magical feel, and an opportunity to enjoy a winter hike in one of these locations shouldn’t be missed! So grab your day pack and some water, pull on a pair of comfy wool socks and hiking boots, and get ready to explore some of the Pacific Northwest’s most stunning countryside!
Boulder River Trail
This is a place to go and gaze in wonder at the giant trees that proliferate the forest surrounding the Boulder River Trail. Each of these ancient trees is protected within the 49,000 acre Boulder River Wilderness, and a determined 9-mile hike on this trail will be rewarded with dense, pristine forests and beautiful waterfalls at various points, culminating in a breathtaking span of the lush valley below once you reach the trail’s zenith.
Cape Alava – Sand Point Loop
Wintertime is oddly a great time to hit the beach in many coastal areas, and the beach trails of Washington are nothing short of spectacular, even if the clouds refuse to part. One such popular destination is the Ozette Loop Trailhead, at which point you can take one trail to Cape Alava, or the other trail to the Sand Point Loop. Inspect ancient petroglyphs and artifacts, or enjoy observing local wildlife like seal lions, sea otters, seals, and marine birds. This beautiful stretch of coastline extends for 9.3 miles round trip, but being at sea level will just make it seem like the most romantic beach walk you’ve ever been on.
A winter walk through Padilla Bay will be not only beautiful, but a firsthand experience with important inner coastal and estuarine ecosystems, environments that are often disregarded in the course of development, but serve a vital purpose in the ecosystem of the region as a whole. Visitors can observe multiple marine and predatory bird species on their 4.8 mile roundtrip excursion through tidal flats, salt marshes, and sloughs that make up the landscape of Padilla Bay.