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Washington in Bloom: 12 Spring Hikes for Wildflowers

Early spring is the perfect time to seek out the early wildflowers on display on hikes all over the state.

With their bright pops of color tucked into our green forests or scattered across our central scablands, wildflowers herald a warmer, sunnier hiking season. From marshy yellow skunk cabbage to unlikely glacier lilies, you can find early spring wildflowers all over the state this time of year.

In Washington, we have a wildflower season that lasts from March through August. With so many unique ecosystems right in our backyard, many incredible flowers have found their niche.

The rich variety of flora could have you hiking for decades and still finding new wonders on the forest floor. Early spring is the perfect time to stride out on trail to see big, showy balsamroot, delicate calypso orchids or bright salmonberry bushes in bloom.

Tips for finding wildflowers

    Grass Camp

    Location: Snoqualmie Region -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
     6.2 miles, roundtrip

    Grass Camp. Photo by jeshartmann..jpeg
    Teanaway views go on for days. Photo by trip reporter jeshartmann.

    The Grass Camp Trail has plenty of loop opportunities in the wildflower-rich Teanaway -- connecting hikers with extremely scenic high country, massive basalt cliffs and shady lodgepole pine forests.

    > Plan your trip to Grass Camp Trail using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Lower mad river valley

    Location: Central Cascades -- Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan
     14.9 miles, one-way
    Elevation Gain: 2500 feet

    Mad River Valley. Photo by Bob and Barb..jpeg
    A cluster of balsamroot poking our from the trailside. Photo by trip reporter Bob and Barb.

    Hike for a little or hike for a lot, this early-season trail features rocky canyons, fragrant ponderosa pine forests and a hefty helping of wildflowers. Make sure to pack your flower ID book because you’re likely to find a number of beauties, including Columbia Clematis, Hooker's fairybells, Star-flowered and False Solomon's Seal, long-flowered Bluebells. lavender pea-flowers, Larkspur, Popcorn flowers, Balsamroot, and Scarlet Gilia. This area is a great alternate to the popular 17-mile thru-hike on the nearby Chelan Lakeshore Trail.

    > Plan your trip to Lower Mad River Valley using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Weldon wagon road

    Location: Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge
     5.4 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 1290 feet

    Weldon Wagon Road. Photo by maple..jpeg
    Yellow Balsamroot blooms carpet the meadows during the springtime. Photo by trip reporter maple.

    Hop aboard for an early-season wildflower bloom amid open terrain and open air. The Oregon white oak woodlands with open ridgetop meadows, wildflowers, and views of the White Salmon Valley make this a delightful hike that is off the beaten track. While this area is worth a visit all year long, springtime is when it really shines.

    > Plan your trip to Weldon Wagon Road using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Big Huckleberry Mountain

    Location: Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge
     11.5 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 2,930

    Big Huckleberry Mountain. Photo by cptf..jpeg
    A colorful mix of flowers with a view of Mount Hood in the background. Photo by trip reporter cptf.

    From the trailhead, make your way through wildflower meadows, forests, and views of the expansive Columbia Gorge below you. And, there is no need to make the entire 11.5-mile trek. Many hikers stop at Grassy Knoll, (2.2 miles from the trailhead) content to bask in the views of Mounts Hood and Adams. But those bound for Big Huckleberry Mountain continue on, weaving onward through wildflower meadows and forest.

    > Plan your trip to Big Huckleberry Mountain using WTA's Hiking Guide

    > Get more ideas for Columbia River Gorge spring hikes

    Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area

    Location: Central Washington, near Yakima
    8.0 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 1750 feet

    Whiskey Dick Ridge by David Hagen.jpegLupines blooming over the Whiskey Dick Ridge. Photo by David Hagen.

    Wander among a wide variety of wildflowers—including a rare species of cactus, Simpson’s hedgehog, with its hot pink blossoms—chunks of petrified wood, and panoramic views of the Columbia Basin, under usually sunny, blue skies. Bring your camera and your field guide. For those hikers who prefer vistas or bird-watching to finding flora, there's plenty of that to go around, too.

    > Plan your trip to Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area using WTA's Hiking Guide

    SnoW Mountain Ranch

    Location: Central Washington, near Yakima
     9.2 miles (with shorter options)
    Elevation Gain: Varies 

    Patches of balsamroot and lupine dotting the foreground at Cowiche Mountain. Photo by mytho-man.

    Head towards Yakima for some of the best wildflower shows in the state. Spend the day roaming on this former ranch, which in spring is cloaked in wildflowers! Keep your eyes peeled for the delightfully bright hedgehog cacti, bitterroot and more. 

    > Plan your trip to Snow Mountain Ranch using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Rimrock lake

    Location: Central Washington -- Potholes Region
    Mileage: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 235 feet

    Frog Lake by David Hagen.jpegFlowers line the trail on the approach to Frog Lake. Photo (c) David Hagen

    Sitting inside the 30,000 acre Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, Frog Lake, and the nearby Crab Creek and Marsh Loop trails provide hours of trail exploration. With basalt views, sagebrush-steppe, rocky cliffs and budding wildflowers you won't run out of beautiful views to take in—just watch out for ticks!

    > Plan your trip to Rimrock Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Puffer Butte

    Location: Eastern Washington - Blue Mountains
    Mileage: 4.4 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 500 feet

    Puffer Butte by Melanie Harding.jpegThe spring views from Puffer Butte. Photo by Melanie Harding.

    Tucked into the southeast corner of the state, this little trail in Field Spring State Park rewards with big views and solitude. The time to visit for wildflowers is now, when snow melt is feeding the first flush of wildflowers (and before things begin to heat up).

    > Plan your trip to Puffer Butte using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Mima Mounds

    Location: Olympia
    2.7 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 10 feet

    Mima Mounds by blamecanada.jpegCamas in bloom at Mima Mounds. Photo by blamecanada.

    While many wildflowers have roots here, but these mysterious hills are best enjoyed when Washington's native camas blooms blanket the rolling open landscape. This destination is a good one for families looking to just spend the day outside, and has paved trails for strollers or wheelchairs.

    > Plan your trip to Mima Mounds using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Anderson lake state park

    Location: Olympic Peninsula -- Northern Coast
     8.0 miles of trails
    Elevation Gain: 80 feet

    Anderson Lake State Park. Photo by batman and wakerobin..jpeg
    Greenery at Anderson Lake State Park. Photo by batman and wakerobin..

    With more than ten trails to choose from at Anderson Lake State Park, there are plenty of reasons to keep coming back. Bring the kids, the dog, your mountain bike, and even your horse, and mix and match the trails to your heart’s content to explore a little over eight miles of serene and shady forest trails. Pass through grassy marshes, patches of wild strawberries, salmonberries, and huckleberries, over tidy walking bridges, and through a forest of young and old cedars, firs, and deciduous trees.

    > Plan your trip to Anderson Lake State Park using WTA's Hiking Guide


    Location: Puget Sound & Islands -- Bellingham area
    2.5 miles, roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 890 feet

    Sugarloaf by hikingwithlittledogs..jpegWildflowers dot the hills of Sugarloaf. Photo by hikingwithlittledogs.

    The network of trails on the Anacortes Community Forest Lands is extensive enough that you can spend all day hiking and exploring here. Keep your eyes peeled for camas and delicate avalanche lilies dotting the hillsides. Don't forget to look up from your wildflower hunt every now and then to take in the views of the sound, too!

    > Plan your trip to Sugarloaf using WTA's Hiking Guide

    Mica Peak to Liberty Lake Traverse

    Location: Eastern Washington -- Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
    Mileage: 11.5 miles, one-way
    Elevation Gain: 2600 feet

    Mica Peak
    Photo by trip reporter EastsideAnne.

    Thanks to planning and partnerships from WTA and local land managers, this fantastic new trail is located on a parcel of public land very close to Spokane. Get a full-day hike just 30 minutes from downtown!

    > Plan your trip to Mica Peak to Liberty Lake Traverse using WTA's Hiking Guide