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Hikers stop to enjoy views of the San Juan Islands from the summit of Oyster Dome.

Image: Alison Klein

If you don’t own a pair of crampons or snowshoes, or don’t feel like tromping through snow drifts like it's Little House on the Prairie, here are five trails that you can tackle without getting stranded in the snow. (Note: These trails are almost always snow-free, but big blizzards can add a dusting to any part of the state.)

North Bend

Within an hour of Seattle, access to Twin Falls in North Bend is available year-round, unlike many nearby treks. The trail is named for 150-foot waterfalls—there are actually three separate falls—and they cascade beside a route largely made up of wide wooden stairs. Initially, the path follows the river across a small hill before reaching a short bridge. Large boulders are beside the route until it climbs away from the river and through dense forest—think tall old-growth trees. After a washout, a new trail was built in 2016 to bypass the eroded area. To reach the trailhead, head east on I-90, take exit 34 to turn right for 159th Street, and then continue for a half-mile to the trailhead. 3.5 miles round trip, Discover Pass required


After years of rainfall on the steep slope of Blanchard Mountain, the Oyster Dome trail became heavily eroded, but the Washington Trails Association has been working on the trail’s switchbacks since 2014.The view at the top still includes sweeping views of the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island across the Salish Sea. The trail has gentle switchbacks ascending the mountain for about a mile before it gets steeper at a large boulder field. There's a junction with a trail to Lily and Lizard Lakes, and the main Oyster Dome trail winds a half-mile across multiple creeks before ending at the 2,025-foot summit. The restoration project uses second-growth trees to keep the muddy stretches of trail more stable and is expected to be completed by the end of next year. To get there, drive north on I-5 to Mount Vernon and take exit 240 for Lake Samish Road. From there, a left onto Barrel Springs Road leads to the Blanchard Hill Trail System and keeps going until it reaches the parking lot at Samish Overlook. 5 miles round trip, Discover Pass required

Olympic Peninsula

The northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States has a lot to offer. At Cape Flattery in the Makah Indian Reservation, more than 100 inches of annual rainfall fall on sea stacks and Tatoosh Island, topped with a lighthouse. The region is populated with otters, sea lions, and puffins. The short trail to Cape Flattery is made of boardwalks and stairs that descend to the rocky outcrop. To get there, follow US 101 from Port Angeles and then turn onto State Route 112 toward Neah Bay. After reaching the Makah Tribal Museum—where a Makah recreation pass is required for parking at the trailhead—continue 2.5 miles west onto Bayview Avenue and look for trailhead signs. 1.5 miles round trip, Makah Recreation Pass required

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Numerous bridges are on the Middle Tiger Mountain trail.


Just 20 miles east of Seattle, Middle Tiger Mountain is one of the most hiked areas in the state. In the 19th century, the logging industry created miles of roads that eventually became hiking trails all over the tallest mountain (3,004 feet) in the Issaquah Alps. While the summit isn't exactly the Matterhorn, the trek is thick with conifers and small streams. This route—less popular than West Tiger or East Tiger—has a wide path with bridges through the forest, up 1,200 feet to the summit mound; views are of surrounding peaks in the I-90 corridor. To get there, take exit 25 off I-90 and head south on Highway 18. After four miles, the Tiger Summit Trailhead parking lot is on the right side of the road, a quarter mile up a gravel road. 7.4 miles round trip, Discover Pass required

Mount Rainier Lowlands

It’s been nearly a century since the Melmont schoolhouse, the last standing building in the town of Melmont, was torn down. The area is near the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, south of Buckley. After the region's mines closed in the early 1920s and a forest fire did damage, all that exists in the mining ghost town off State Route 165 is dilapidated remains of a bridge, the foundation of the schoolhouse, a run-down building that used to hold explosives, and a few mossed-over stone walls of past buildings. The hike also has various ruins along the trail—which is an old railway—but can also be a bit muddy; the area is also heavily used by ATV riders. To get there, take State Route 165 in the direction of Mount Rainier National Park and drive across the Fairfax Bridge to the parking lot. From there, descend the north side of the bridge down to the old railway to start the hike going south. 6 miles round trip, no parking pass required 

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