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Hike the Minecraft Biomes of Washington

If you want to take your Minecraft exploration off-screen, we figured we could help by pairing in-game biomes with some local hikes right here in Washington.

Since its full release in 2011, Minecraft has won over the hearts of young and old gamers alike — quickly becoming the top-selling video game of all time. Thanks to its sandbox-style gameplay and procedurally-generated terrain, you can never run out of places to explore or things to do. From slaying mobs and enchanting swords in preparation for the ender dragon to building the farm of your dreams, there is something for everyone.

Hikers, in particular, might appreciate the 60+ biomes that can be found throughout the Minecraft world. Ranging from life-like locations like arid deserts and lush jungles to mystical mushroom islands and soul sand valleys, it could take a lifetime to find them all.

If you want to take your Minecraft exploration off-screen, we figured we could help by pairing in-game biomes with some local hikes right here in Washington. While we didn't include all of them here (sorry, nether), we were able to track down 16 hikes that closely resemble our favorite Minecraft biomes and can appease gamers and non-gamers alike. Enjoy!


Billy Clapp Lake

Location: Central Washington > Potholes Region
Length: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Calm waters in the desert of central Washington. Photo by David Hagen.

Sure, Washington doesn't have any of the bright red badlands of South Dakota, but we do have plenty of stunning desert colors throughout the central region of the state! Find sage-steppe, sandy beaches and towering bluffs around Billy Clapp Lake.

> Plan your hike to Billy Clapp Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide


Salt Creek

Location: Olympic Peninsula > Port Angeles
Length: varies
Elevation Gain: varies

A rocky shore covered in trees at Salt Creek. Photo by SeaAnita.

Along the Strait of Juan de Fuca is the Salt Creek Recreation Area. Picnic tables, fire pits, sports courts and plenty of short trails down to the shore are available for day use throughout the area. Plus, the recreation area also abuts nearby Striped Peak, a 7.5-mile loop to extend your trip.

> Plan your hike to Salt Creek using WTA's Hiking Guide

Birch Forest

Birch Bay State Park

Location: Puget Sound and Islands > Bellingham Area
Length: 1.5 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: minimal

Fall leaves scatter the trail through a birch forest. Photo by kidz won't hike.

Birch trees aren't super abundant in Washington, but you can find pockets of them throughout the northern Puget Sound and Islands. Just south of Blaine is the aptly named Birch Bay State Park, which is home to several paper birch trees, as well as maple, alder, cedars and hemlock. 

> Plan your hike to Birch Bay State Park using WTA's Hiking Guide


Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Location: Central Washington > Tri-Cities
Length: varies
Elevation Gain: varies

Who says you need to go to the beach to find sand? Photo by jrdearman.

Juniper Dunes provides an adventure like nowhere else in Washington. In this uniquely managed area, there are no formal trails — simply a choose-your-own-adventure through rolling dunes, balsamroot fields and the state's largest remaining juniper grove. Wildlife abounds here; sagebrush lizard, black-tailed jackrabbit, grasshopper mouse, kangaroo rat, ferruginous hawk, Swainson's hawk and more. Pack a good map and plenty of extra water for this one.

> Plan your hike to Juniper Dunes Wilderness using WTA's Hiking Guide

Dripstone Caves

Crawford State Park - Gardner Cave

Location: Eastern Washington > Selkirk Ridge
Length: 1.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Perhaps our best matchup of the bunch. It's almost hard to tell the game from real life! Photo Aaron Brinkley.

Head 90 feet underground to find this dripstone cave look-alike! Formed by the uplift of the Selkirk Mountains, calcium-rich limestone sediment folded and cracked — letting water seep and drip into the cavern to create an array of deposit formations. Admire the drippy stalactites clinging to the cave ceiling and spans of stalagmites erupting up from the cave floor.

> Plan your hike to Crawford State Park - Gardner Cave using WTA's Hiking Guide


Little Mountain Park - Bonnie and Clyde Loop

Location: Puget Sound and Islands > Bellingham Area
Length: 1.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Classic western Washington forest views. Photo by Psymin.

Forest views are the bread and butter of Western Washington. You can find a forest just about anywhere, but the Bonnie and Clyde Loop is a great choice for a family-friendly outing just outside of downtown Mount Vernon. After winding through the lush forest, you'll also get to enjoy views of the Puget Sound and Whidbey Island once you reach the top.

> Plan your hike to Little Mountain Park using WTA's Hiking Guide

Jagged Peaks

Welcome Pass

Location: North Cascades > Mount Baker Area
Length: 4.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet

Snow-covered mountain views from atop Welcome Pass. Photo by pincjef.

The North Cascades are certainly your best bet for peak views. Many of the peaks can be seen from the comfort of your car (see Washington Pass below) but if you're looking for a workout, the 66 switchbacks leading up to Welcome Pass are just the ticket. Start your ascent through a lush evergreen forest before popping out onto a flower-lined ridge with expansive views of the nearby mountains.

> Plan your hike to Welcome Pass using WTA's Hiking Guide


Bogachiel River

Location: Olympic Peninsula > Olympic Coast
Length: 12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

9.pngDrippy moss covers the trees along the Bogachiel. Photo by Birb.

The temperate rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula is an easy choice for a Minecraft jungle experience. Just one valley north of the popular Hoh River trail is the Bogachiel River trail — a long, quiet route through thick trees, drippy moss and chattering waters. Starting as a gentle river ramble, the trail is perfect for a lowkey day hike with the family, but it also provides plenty of rugged backpacking opportunities for those seeking a longer adventure. Continue onward to reach High Divide, Sol Duc Hot Springs and more.

> Plan your hike to Bogachiel River using WTA's Hiking Guide

Mountain Meadow

Divide Camp

Location: South Cascades > Mount Adams Area
Length: 5.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet

Scarlet Paintbrush blooming below Mount Adams. Photo by OlyPacMan.

First up, can we all just agree that bees are the cutest of all Minecraft wildlife? With that settled, let's focus on some mountain meadows — one of the more abundant Minecraft biomes to be found in Washington. Head up above treeline anywhere in the Cascades are you're likely to find wildflower fields and big vistas. Divide Camp near the lesser-visited Mount Adams is a great option.

> Plan your hike to Divide Camp using WTA's Hiking Guide


Mima Mounds

Location: Olympic Peninsula > Olympia
Length: 2.75 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 10 feet

Wildflowers blooming across the mounds. Photo by Lkray.

The mysterious rolling hills of the Mima Mounds are an excellent destination for spring wildflowers, but they are worth a visit any time of year. And, thanks to the wide-open views, you can even catch glimpses of Mount Rainier or Mount St. Helens on a clear day.

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


Similkameen River

Location: Eastern Washington > Okanogan Highlands
Length: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 40 feet

The beautiful Similkameen River runs through the desert landscape. Photo by kimlaree.

Washington is chockablock full of rivers, but we have a soft spot for the lovely Similkameen River. The Similkameen Trail starts just outside of downtown Oroville — making it a great choice for a post-work stroll — and meanders through the river gorge for several miles with views of salmon rushing below and shrub-steppe above.

> Plan your hike to Similkameen Trail using WTA's Hiking Guide


Windy Pass

Location: North Cascades > Pasayten
Length: 7.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet

Wide open views of the Pasayten Wilderness from Windy Pass. Photo by Owen Vogeli.

There's no true savanna in Washington but this is ... pretty close? Windy Pass starts high and stays high — topping out at over 8,000 feet in elevation with mega views across the Pasayten Wilderness. Enjoy miles of meadows with sparse trees and keep an eye out for some elusive Washington wildlife like moose, bear, wolf or lynx here.

> Plan your hike to Windy Pass using WTA's Hiking Guide

Stony Peaks

Washington Pass Overlook

Location: North Cascades > North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Length: 0.25 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 61 feet

Nearly identical peaks from the overlook at Washington Pass. Photo by cmshow.

As mentioned earlier, the North Cascades are a must for peaks both jagged and stony. For unrelenting in-your-face beauty, you cannot beat this roadside, wheelchair-friendly, quarter-mile jaunt to the Washington Pass Overlook with views of the iconic Liberty Bell. Towering granite peaks, white granite outcrops, and a mix of conifers make this a soul-rejuvenating rest stop like no other.

> Plan your hike to Washington Pass Overlook using WTA's Hiking Guide

Stony Shore

Camano Island state Park

Location: Puget Sound and Islands > Bellingham Area
Length: 2.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Cliffs above the beach at Camano Island State Park. Photo by mountain-view.

Stony shores are kind of Washington's *thing.* The Puget Sound is loaded with stony beaches, so you likely won't have to look far to find one. Camano Island State Park is home to a great stony beach as well as a picturesque bluff and quiet forested loop. 

> Plan your hike to Camano Island State Park using WTA's Hiking Guide


Hazel Wolf Wetlands

Location: Issaquah Alps
Length: 1.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 60 feet

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A swath of lily pads over the water at Hazel Wolf. Photo by code hick.

Washington is home to a number of wetland hikes that give perfect swampy vibes. Hazel Wolf is just one option, and it's beautiful in all seasons and easily accessible from the Seattle metro area. Bring the whole family to admire the waterfowl and beaver dams thriving here, and consider extending your loop by joining up with the nearby Beaver Lake Preserve trail.

> Plan your hike to Hazel Wolf Wetlands using WTA's Hiking Guide


Nisqually State Park

Location: Mount Rainier Area > Longmire/Paradise
Length: varies
Elevation Gain: varies

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A wintery scene at Nisqually State Park. Photo by denismenis.

You'll need to make your way north to the subarctic regions of Canada or Alaska to find true taiga, but Washington is home to some taiga-like environments, particularly around our wide river valleys. Nisqually State Park is one option that provides some options for quiet walks across gravel roads and views of the rushing river between forests of evergreens. 

> Plan your hike to Nisqually State Park using WTA's Hiking Guide