Editor’s note: We encourage you to practice good physical distancing on the trail. Before you head out, confirm trails are open. Wildfire activity and COVID-19 are causing closures. Be welcoming of all people on the trail.
As the fall season approaches Seattle with its wet weather and dreary clouds, consider crossing over the Cascade Mountain passes to unveil a diverse landscape vastly different than the lush Peninsula.
Often more sunny and dry, these high desert plateaus stretch beyond the eye with geological wonders and small, often seasonal, lakes sparsely scattered throughout the tundra. Continue exploring further towards the Washington-Idaho border, and you’ll uncover the hub of adventure for the eastern side of the state: Spokane!
The next time rain is in the Peninsula’s forecast, make the journey out to one of these Eastern Washington hikes for some fall colors and better chance at basking in warm sunshine:
Sullivan Lake – Metaline Falls, WA
Length: 8.2 miles roundtrip
Booming with diverse foliage from aspen, hemlocks and birch trees; Sullivan Lake is a prime spot for capturing fall colors. And this moderate hike around the lake is also a treat for experiencing one of the regions’ signature seasonal displays – the western larch! As the species of larch which is largely only found in the inland northwest, the western larch is unique for many things. Most notably, in the fall, it sheds its needles in a blazen, golden glory which captivates the lucky viewers hearts and eyes. Can’t make ti to Metaline Falls? Here are four more places to see Washington’s alpine larches.
Riverside State Park (Bowl & Pitcher) – Spokane, WA
Length: 2.1 miles roundtrip
One of the most famous features of the Eastern city is the Spokane River. Stretching over 6,000-miles from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and snaking through downtown Spokane, this glacier-blue waterway boosts countless hikes and activities for local adventurers. The Riverside State Park Bowl & Pitcher loop is a classic option which showcases many rewards. From witnessing many of the geological features of the inland high desert to hiking across the raging river on a swinging bridge, this short and moderate hike is a great way to start your fall day. While you’re in the city, you can check out four more Spokane hikes.
Abercrombie Mountain – Selkirk Range, WA
Length: 7.3 miles roundtrip
The second highest peak in Eastern Washington, Abercrombie Mountain gains some elevation and makes for a more difficult hike requiring a degree of fitness to accomplish. However, for those willing to endure the challenge, the summit offers an unparalleled panorama view of the region. Once home to an old fire lookout, the summit rewards hikers with a landscape display of rolling forested terrain, from the Canadian Purcells to the Columbia Plateau, as well as horizon-spanning views of the Cascades, B.C.’s Rossland Range and Idaho’s Selkirks.
Quartz Mountain Lookout – Mount Spokane, WA
Length: 4.7 miles roundtrip
Accessible all year round, the Quartz Mountain lookout sits atop the Nordic Ski Trail System within Mount Spokane State Park. Whether you choose to hike to the top in the summer, or cross-country ski in the winter, the summit offers a complete panorama view of the Spokane Valley and northern Idaho. On a clear day, the landscape stretches out at your feet, showing several lakes and prominent peaks from the Selkirk Range. And, for those who like to plan ahead, you can even stay the night in the old fire lookout! Reservations are required, though, and are often booked several months in advance.
Icicle Ridge – Wenatchee, WA
Length: 6 miles roundtrip
For those seeking a challenging on their way back to the Peninsula from Eastern Washington, consider stopping near Wenatchee for a challenging and rewarding hike. With countless options between the desert town and neighboring Leavenworth, Icicle Ridge offers expansive fall views while hopefully avoiding early winter snow. Walk through lush forests of maples and ponderosa pines while enjoying views of the Wenatchee and Icicle river, Tumwater Canyon, and the towering Cascade mountain range and foothills.