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You'll have a variety of trail experiences to choose from in Washington, from rustic backcountry adventures to well-groomed paved routes through city centers. But they all share something in common: the splendid scenery of the American Northwest. Pristine lakes and rivers, peaceful forests, mountain vistas and rolling prairie—you'll find it all here.
For those looking for adventure, the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail should be at the top of the list. The rail-trail offers a mountain biking ride through remote and sparsely populated areas of Washington that are rich in wildlife and natural beauty. Although there are some gaps on the eastern side of the trail, they can be connected via on-road riding for a route totaling 285 miles from the Cascade Mountains to the Idaho border.
Side by side, Centennial Trail State Park
The 35 miles of Olympic Discovery Trail stretching between Sequim Bay and the Elwha River
From the Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area, the Chehalis Western Trail weaves in and out of lush forests and open farmland as it heads south into the hills overlooking the scenic Deschutes River valley. The 21-mile paved pathway also traverses Lacey, a suburb of Washington's capital Olympia, for easy access to restaurants and shops along the way.
Southeast of Tacoma, the Foothills Trail offers a 30-mile system of pathways that connect a handful of communities near the base of Mount Rainier. You'll find a mix of different surfaces on this trail, but striking views of the snow-capped mountain, the Carbon River, forested hillsides and historical railroad bridges reward intrepid travelers.
With its views of Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington alone, Seattle's Burke-Gilman Trail could claim its rightful place in the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Combine that fantastic backdrop with the ease of a nearly 19-mile paved pathway connecting city amenities and several parks—including a standout with the unique Gas Works Park—and you have a world-class trail experience.
The Snohomish County Centennial Trail rolls past picturesque farmland, through forested watersheds and across creeks and rivers that drain the Cascade Mountains, whose snowy summits are visible in the east. A welcome rest stop for the 30-mile trail is at Lake Cassidy, where travelers can gather at picnic tables or walk out onto the pier. History buffs will also enjoy the historically preserved storefronts and homes in Snohomish and Arlington, and the replica train depot in Machias.
It sounds too good to be true. Northeast Washington’s Ferry County Rail Trail winds through a forested valley carved by the pristine Kettle River, passes through an otherworldly rock tunnel and crosses a 770-foot trestle that skims over a vast lake. Framed by mountains, the 25-mile trail is especially breathtaking in the fall, brightened with the golden hues of aspen, western larch
Beginning on Spokane's western end, Fish Lake Trail runs south through quiet rural areas and pine tree forest to Queen Lucas Lake. As much of the paved pathway overlooks Marshall Creek, you'll be treated to some beautiful views, and portions of the trail also dive through cool rock cuts.
The Cedar River Trail whisks travelers out of the Seattle metro area and into the rural countryside. Beginning at the edge of Renton's historic downtown, the trail rolls upstream along the fast-flowing Cedar River to Landsburg Park. The first 11 miles of the trail, stretching just past the Maple Valley trailhead, are paved; the remainder of the nearly 16-mile trail is packed gravel. In the fall, watch for the bright-red sockeye salmon that head up the river to spawn.
"Biking" may not be the first word you think of when you picture Texas, but the Lone Star State has some surprising recreational gems.
"Virginia is for Lovers" is the tourism slogan for the state, but for outdoor enthusiasts, you could also easily say that "Virginia is for Trail Lovers."
Colorado: There are few states as well associated with outdoor recreation as this one—and for good reason.