5 Must-Do Northwest River Hikes

Hiking Monday, June 16, 2014 Written by

With the season’s warmer weather comes the thawing of the best high-country hikes – but we’re not there just yet. So what’s a Northwest hiker to do?

Walk Along RiverMid to late June is actually a great time for a Northwest river hike. The snow is melting, which replenishes the region’s rivers and charges up the waterfalls, and the sun’s heat is at just the right temperature to make a stroll along the water seem like just the right fix.

To cash in on this ideal mix, consider our list of five must-do Northwest river hikes.

1. Salmon River

Length: 4+ miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy
Mount Hood’s quiet Salmon River, designated a National Wild and Scenic River for its entire length, starts up high on the mountain but ends up in a pristine forest of old-growth fir and cedar down below. This scenic trail winds through that forest and along the river for the first two miles before angling up to a view of the entire canyon.

River View and Boots

2. Boulder River

Length: Up to 8.5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy
If gushing waterfalls and towering trees are what you’re after, the hike along Washington’s Boulder River is where you need to be. Protected in the 49,000-acre Boulder River Wilderness, the river and the forest here carry on as they always have, offering up plenty of pristine beauty and fresh air that does nothing short of wonders for the soul.

3. Hoh River

Length: Up to 10 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy
Huge trees, wildlife and occasional glimpses of far off snowy peaks provide plenty of eye candy for hikers along the Hoh River in Olympic National Park. The crystalline river is itself no eyesore. Though this trail can be crowded in the summer, don’t despair — the farther in you stroll, the more likely you are to find a little solitude along the river.

Hiker near River

4. Lewis River

Length: Up to 9 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy
In the shadow of Mount St. Helens in southern Washington, the Lewis River purls through mossy forests and plunges over several pretty waterfalls. The trail parallels the river most of the way, winding through the trees and past shady wildflowers. Short side trails to Curly Creek Falls, Miller Creek Falls and other cascades are worth every step.

5. North Umpqua

Length: Varies
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Southern Oregon’s North Umpqua Trail is nearly 80 miles of wild beauty: deep forests, emerald water, cascading falls and, from May through October, silvery steelhead and salmon making their way back to their spawning grounds. Twelve different trailheads afford access to varying legs of the trail, from the 3.7-mile Calf Segment to the 15.7-mile Tioga Segment.