The Pacific Northwest is one of those places where you can find those dreamy fairytale forests that you never thought existed except in a medieval movie. It is suddenly going from best kept secret to top hiking region in the country. The Pacific Northwest is a geographical region that includes the American states of Oregon, Washington and some have even expanded to include British Columbia in the country of Canada.
If you have ever been to this part of the region, you know that there's also no such thing as top 10 hikes either. With a total of 238 official waterfalls just in the state of Oregon alone and about 400+ miles of luscious green forest land there's an inmense amount of options to explore the outdoors. However, please be advised that we have made our list below with the following in mind:
Though there are always those adventurous ones who long for the longer and more challenging routes, sometimes to complete in 1+ day, we've made our list based on convenience. Sometimes we are pressed for time when vacationing, are limited to availability for transportation in the area and are looking for those quick Instagrammable moments. Based on this, we have made our top 10 hikes below including name of trail, lenght / durationand city they are all located in. Here we go!
10. Witch's Castle | Portland, Oregon | Less than 1 mile
There's a mystery between what this creepy cool stone castle-like building really is within the Wildwood Trail. Though many refer to it as a glorified public restroom, we won't ruin it and leave it to your imagination. This small trail of less than 1 mile is accessible via Lower Macleay Park conveniently located in downtown area of Portland.
It is a quiet, not heavily-trafficked trail that combines tall trees and smaller sized waterfalls. This is highly recommended for those who can't or aren't looking for much of a challenging hike. We would actually rather classify it as a small flat ground walk, but nevertheless astounding beauty in its surroundings.
9. Umpqua Hot Springs | Idleyld Park, Oregon | Less than 1 mile
If you've ever wanted to try one of those unique hot springs / bath experiences then this is a great option for you. Located in the expansive Umpqua National Forest lies these natural pools where you can enjoy forest views and relax to soak for a bit. However, quick heads up! Nudity is the norm at his location so be prepared and come with an open mind. Kindly also be mindful of others when taking photographs.
8. Proxy Falls | Belknap Springs, Oregon | 1.6 miles
The photographs taken of this waterfall does no justice compared to if you see it in person. And though, Proxy Falls, already having great fame due to images found online of this scenic hike it's nothing like seeing it in person. Located within Williamette National Park, this waterfall is known for the gigantic tree branch that lies right in front of it which makes a great accent object as you see veil of water pour down from atop decorated by large amount of moss all around it.
Another unique trait about this waterfall is that you will realize it doesn't pour down into a pool or lake. Instead, the water actually streams down beneath you crossing numerous rocks and logs of tree branches from under. However, be careful if you decide to cross the iconic tree branch ! This part of the region is known to be humid, moist and receives a lot of rainfall year round so that means it will be slippery!
7. Hoh Rainforest | Forks, Washington | 1.1 miles
The Hoh Rainforest located within Olympia National Forest in the state of Washington is like no other. The trail you want to look for is Hall of Mosses. If you haven't heard of this place just yet, let me tell you it is the wow factor! The highlight and unique attribute about the Pacific Northwest is the growth of moss and this is where you'll truly be able to experience that live in person.
Some cool creatures to look at for are Elk and banana slugs. It is also a popular trail for kids to explore so you'll be likely to see a lot of families around. Some spots are muddy so boots or waterproof shoes are highly recommended, but for the most part it is easy to navigate around. Take your time and look around. The feeling of seeing this natural beauty in person is surreal.
6. Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Hike | Brookings, Oregon | 1.6 miles
One of the perks of this region being located on the westcoast of the USA is obviously being close to the ocean! Though westcoast beaches have never been known to be warm and might be much colder as you travel north bound they are definitely a sight you can't miss. This hike combines a great incline workout, tall forest trees, rock formations and the pleasant sound of ocean waves.
Though this area has a total of 15 official trails the popular one with the stunning landscape overlooking from up above is the Secret Beach Trail. This is accessible via Thunder Cover parking lot or north end corridor by Arch Rock viewpoint / picnic area. For best photography shots and viewing opportunities we recommend going early mornings when there is less fog. Afternoon reflections tend to interrupt better ability to catch the coastline from up top.
5. Ramona Falls | Rhododendron, Oregon | 7 miles
If you have 2-3 extra hours that you are willing to put into a hike compared to the other trails suggested we highly recommend you to visit one as well. This is also a popular favorite due to the gradual elevation gain. Back in 2014, the path that crosses a small creek used to have bridge but has since not been replaced so be prepared for some water interaction and for it to be extremely cold as well. With proper footwear however, this small detail is minor considering the breathtaking views all around as you explore this trail. This goes without mentioning the rewarding experience once you see the Ramona Falls in all its glory when you reach the end.
4. Silver Falls State Park | Sublimity, Oregon | 8.7 miles
Located right outside of the small city of Salem is the Trail of Ten Falls. Though in total is it 8.7 miles, because there are a series of 10 gorgeous waterfalls total within this path you have the flexibility to turn back at anytime. The visitor center nearby will be able to provide you with a map of where each of the waterfalls is located so it will fascilitate your walk throughout. We absolutely love this trail because each of the waterfalls is unique in its own way. One of the most photographed is the one where you can walk right behind it.
Nearby, and if you're looking for some extra activities after a good workout in the state park there is guided horseback riding offered at the Silver Falls Lodge . Though this is temporarily shut down in 2020 it is projected to be back up and operational beginning of 2021.
3. Oneonta Gorge Hike | Corbett, Oregon | 4.9 miles
Though this trail has been closed since the fire of 2017, we couldn't miss to add this to our list because it's just a classic and we're lowkey hoping the upcoming year might bring some good news of it being back open to the public. Regardless, it should definitely stay within your radar.
Located amoungst the celebrated Columbia River stepping inside is like entering a fantasy world. Right away you'll be blown away by the enormous rock walls and emerald green moss that surrounds you. A highlight of this pathway is walking down the narrow green hallway for about a half a mile which is photographed below. You'll have to make your way through giant logs by climbing and jumping around to continue on your way which is what makes this so much more fun to complete.
2. Joffre Lakes | Squamish, British Columbia | 3.5 miles
Some debate whether borderline Washington state and the country of Canada is truly part of what many considered the Pacific Northwest, but we couldn't go without mentioning one of the must-see's of the region. This trail includes a series of 3 different lake views and you'll find it accomodating; whether you want to work on a small cardio session walking upwards or want to challenge yourself to get to the very top for best views of the mountains surrounding you.
Because we happened to travel during snow season, it was bit difficult if you do not have proper footwear. There are many who actually use this trail for skiing so the ground full of snow will be slippery and flat in some areas. You' might even run into some visitors who will walk on the frozen lake and go iceskating! Of course, always use your better judgement at all times.
If you travel during warmer seasons you will actually be able to see Joffre Lakes from a completely different perspective as the lakes make a beautiful turquoise color that looks just outstanding once the sun glare hits the water and you can see it crystal clear.
1. Multnomah Falls | Corbett, Oregon | 2 miles
We saved the best for last and a trip to the Pacific Northwest isn't quite complete without a visit to Multnomah Falls within the Columbia River. Though not quite a hike since it has a paved walkway on levelled ground it is heavily trafficked as it is a top location for sightseeing amoung tourists. It is no wonder since this happens to be the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. Every season brings out a different color scheme of the famous waterfall, but if you are lucky enough to see it during winter season, you will be amazed at how majestic it looks as the water pours down below you and is beautifully decorated with snow on the rocks and trees around it.