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16 Hikes for a Cloudy Day Adventure

Love it or hate it — Washington is notorious for having a seemingly constant cloud coverage. While it may not be ideal for mountain vistas or ridgeline views, clouds can add an extra layer of eerie calm during a lowland trek.

Love it or hate it — Washington is notorious for having a seemingly constant cloud coverage. While it may not be ideal for mountain vistas or ridgeline views, clouds can add an extra layer of moodiness and calm during a lowland trek. There are many places to explore when the weather turns, and these 16 treks have plenty of close-in wonders to appreciate.

Tips for Cloudy Day Hiking

  • Hiking in the clouds can be magical — but it often requires a little more preparation due to the colder weather and darker days. Pack the 10 Essentials, a little extra caution, and make sure to keep dry in case the rain starts.
  • After you try out one of the hikes below, be sure to write a trip report to share your experience and inspiration with others.
  • Want to save the ideas below for later? That's what your WTA My Backpack account is for!


Lower South Fork Skokomish

Location: Hood Canal
Length: 8.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 800 ft.
Fun Features: Fungi, wildlife, old growth

Lower South Fork Skokomish. Photo by Bright Blue..jpeg
River views along the Skokomish. Photo by trip reporter Bright Blue.

Venture up the Lower South Fork of the Skokomish River for an abundance of flora and fauna amid lush old growth. The trail begins with a swath of sword fern and salal before leveling out high above the river in a section of old-growth firs. The wide, well-maintained trail breezes past trees hundreds of years old before descending back down to the riverside.

>> Plan your hike to the Lower South Fork Skokomish

Ira Spring Wetland

Location: Pacific Coast
Length: 2.9 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.
Fun Features: Wetlands, fungi, bridges

Ira Spring Wetland. Photo by BeccaW..jpeg
You'll find moss everywhere on this wetland trek. Photo by trip reporter BeccaW.

Discover the true beauty of the Bogachiel Rain Forest on the Ira Spring Wetland Trail. This short trail will take you on a loop through a fern forest and around a large wetland. It makes an excellent short hike or a fun side trip from the Bogachiel River Trail.

>> Plan your visit to the Ira Spring Wetland


Rainbow Falls State Park

Location: Chehalis Valley
Length: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
Fun Features: Rivers, old growth

Rainbow Falls State Park. Photo by SnCSmith..jpeg
Photot by trip reporter SnCSmith.

Rainbow Falls State Park is an island remnant of exquisite old growth forest in the upper Chehalis Valley, with a small cascade as the centerpiece of the park. Surrounding a half-mile stretch of the Chehalis River, this fragile patch of stunning Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar is among the last, albeit diminished, stores of Washington heritage to pass onto the future forest of the region.

>> Plan your visit to Rainbow Falls State Park

Leadbetter State Park

Location: Long Beach Area
Length: Over 10 miles of trail
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Fun Features: Dunes, wildlife, beaches

Leadbetter State Park. Photo by mountainmama.jpeg
Moody beaches are definitely one of Washington's things. Photo by trip reporter mountainmama.

Leadbetter Point lies at the northern tip of the Long Beach Peninsula and is home to more than 10 miles of peaceful and often deserted trails running along the Willapa Bay shoreline — passing through maritime forests, mudflats and grassy sand dunes. The area is constantly changing as the sand dunes shift or erode away, making for a unique experience with every visit.

>> Plan your visit to Leadbetter State Park

Puget Sound

Anacortes Community Forest Lands - Whistle Lake

Location: Whidbey Island area
Length: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 580 ft.
Fun Features: Fungi, lakes, wetlands

Whistle Lake. Photo by Pribbs..jpeg
Moody clouds over Whistle Lake. Photo by trip reporter Pribbs.

In the heart of Fidalgo Island lies a natural gem of a forest with wetlands, lakes, and rocky bald meadows with great views. This nice little hike will take you around the lake on a hiker only trail. Hike on a rainy day in winter and watch the mist float above the lake among the trees.

>> Plan your hike to Anacortes Community Forest Lands - Whistle Lake

Tolt-MacDonald Park

Location: Seattle-Tacoma Area 
Length: 12.0 miles of trail
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Fun Features: River, suspension bridge

Tolt MacDonald by ejain.jpeg
Monochromatic colors at Tolt-MacDonald in the wintertime. Photo by trip reporter ejain.

Officially known as Tolt River-John MacDonald Park, this green space in Carnation is known more locally as Tolt-MacDonald Park. Located less than one hour from Seattle, the park sits at the confluence of the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers in the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley, with a stunning 500-foot-long suspension footbridge connecting the east and west sides of the park.

>> Plan your visit to Tolt-MacDonald Park

South Cascades

Gillette Lake and Greenleaf Overlook

Location: Columbia River Gorge
Length: 8.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 650 ft.
Fun Features: Lake, impressive tree canopy

Gillette Lake. Photo by KDfishbiologist..jpeg
The calm waters of Gillette Lake. Photo by KDfishbiologist.

Hike a little or hike a lot, the trail to Gillette Lake serves as the southernmost portion of the Washington Pacific Crest Trail and has plenty to see. No matter how far you get, you'll get a taste of the famous "Green Tunnel," the dense tree canopy and overarching foliage that make up the iconic trail's character in southwest Washington. 

>> Plan your visit to Gillette Lake and Greenleaf Overlook

Siouxon Creek

Location: Lewis River Region
Length: 13.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 635 ft.
Fun Features: Quiet forests, waterfalls, canyons

Mini waterfalls along Siouxon Creek. Photo by Jason Benes.

This gently rolling creekside ramble may only be one continuous trail, but an adventure in three parts awaits. The first few miles are a quiet walk through a classic fern-dotted, mossy forest. In the second section, hikers find Siouxon Creek and fellow waterfall seekers, and the final miles offer more solitude and small narrow canyons with more waterfalls to enjoy.

>> Plan your visit to Siouxon Creek

Central Cascades

Iron Goat Trail

Location: Stevens Pass - West
Length: 6.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 700 ft.
Fun Features: Bridges, tunnels, historical artifacts

Irom Goat Trail. Photo by RacingSnail..jpeg
Boardwalk views along the Iron Goat Trail. Photo by trip reporter RacingSnail.

This is a gentle walk along the old Great Northern railroad grade built over the Cascades in 1893. At the time it was built, it was considered the best engineered of the transcontinental railroads. Your journey will take you on one of the intricate switchbacks that once started trains up the Cascades Mountains.

>> Plan you trip to the Iron Goat Trail

Federation Forest State Park

Location: Chinook Pass - Hwy 410
Length: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 150 ft.
Fun Features: Old growth, river, interpretive signs

Federation Forest by Marley..jpeg
Explore some seriously peaceful forests during your visit to Federation Forest. Photo by trip reporter Marley.

Green, mossy old growth trees and miles of level hiking are the main attractions at Federation Forest State Park. More than 12 miles of trails wind through the forest and hikers can put together loops to fit their hiking needs. An interpretive center is open April through October with interpretive trails (open year round) looping out from it.

>> Plan your visit to Federation Forest State Park

North Cascades

Diobsud Creek

Location: Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Length: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 440 ft.
Fun Features: Creek, fungi, mossy forests

Diobsud Creek by Kristie White.jpeg
Diobsud Creek. Photo by Kristie White.

The trail to Diobsud Creek is a nice trip through a quiet forest that features moss covered trees, as well as rocks, boulders and ferns lining the trail on a steep hillside above a babbling creek. The main trail is good for the first mile, but becomes more narrow and brushy towards the end (but who doesn't love an adventure?). 

>> Plan your visit to Diobsud Creek

Pipestone Canyon Rim Trail

Location: Methow/Sawtooth
Length: 9.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1700 ft.
Fun Features: Wildlife, neat rocks

Biiiiig views at Pipestone Canyon. Photo by trip reporter hikingwithlittledogs.

Hikers who visit Pipestone Canyon will be treated to gorgeous views from rock lookouts and a good chance of spotting plentiful wildlife including golden eagle, western tanager, and coyote, among others.

>> Plan your visit to Pipestone Canyon Rim

Central Washington

Goose Lake Plateau

Location: Potholes Region
Length: 7.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
Fun Features: Canyons, lakes, bluffs

Goose Lake. Photo by scrappyjess30..jpeg
Clouds or no clouds, you'll still appreciate these wide open views. Photo by trip reporter scrappyjess30.

Sunshine? Who needs it. The wide open plateaus at Goose Lake are only enhanced by the eerie edge of a cloudy day. From the Trailhead, you'll find a well-worn footpath that ascends the plateau ramparts in order to reach the top of the mesa. Up top, you'll find an expansive grassland interspersed with bluffs that beckon for exploration.

>> Plan your visit to Goose Lake Plateau

Tieton River Nature Trail

Location: Yakima
Length: 6.75 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.
Fun Features: Seasonal colors, geologic formations, river

Tieton Nature Trail. Photo by KatieMae.jpeg
The iconic hiker bridge across the Tieton River. Photo by trip reporter KatieMae.

The Tieton River Nature Trail is an easy hike along the Tieton River in the Tieton River Canyon. The trail rambles along the river, with sights of impressive geologic formations, and relative solitude. The trail is best walked in the spring for wildflowers and in the fall for some of the most spectacular fall color you’ll ever see. It’s also a nice snowshoe or cross-country ski in the winter when there is snow on the ground. No matter which season you go, there are plenty of close-in views to enjoy.

>> Plan your visit to the Tieton River Nature Trail

Eastern Washington

Twin Sisters Rock

Location: Wallula Junction
Length: 1.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
Fun Features: Basalt pillars, river views

Twin Sisters Rock. Photo by Leann L.jpeg
Cloudy days are sure to make those green hills pop in the spring. Photo by trip reporter Leann L.

At one mile round trip, Twin Sisters Rock is the perfect way to get outside, but with less commitment than a full day hike requires. This area offers a sweeping view of the Columbia River and Wallula Gap, where the river flows through a narrow cut into the basalt plateau (which looks stunning amid a moody cloud-scape!) as well as up-close views of the namesake basalt pillars.

>> Plan your visit to Twin Sisters Rock

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area - Hawk Creek

Location: Spokane Area
Length: 4.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 900 ft.
Fun Features: Caves, flood remnants, basalt cliffs

Hawk Creek. Photo by Anne B..jpeg
The cloudy 'off' season is actually the best time to visit these trails! Photo by trip reporter Anne B.

There are plenty of trails to explore year-round at Hawk Creek. From the upland area, you'll enjoy views of spectacular pre- and post-Pleistocene landforms, including glacial terraces at several levels, Missoula Flood remnants, basalt escarpments, even pillow basalts over 5 million years old! In the wintertime, when the water level is lower, hikers are able to access additional routes on the exposed shoreline.

>> Plan your visit to Hawk Creek