Explore hiking Washington’s Cascade Mountains

When a walk through the woods becomes a spiritual experience, you’ll know you’ve discovered the magic of hiking Washington’s Cascade Mountains. The area around Sky Valley has a number of gorgeous and breathtaking hikes ranging from a casual walk to strenuous alpine climbs. Whatever path you choose hiking around Gold Bar, you’ll encounter a fairytale land filled with fog gently hanging over high alpine lakes and the moss softly blanketing the forest floor. No matter your skill or fitness level, the mountains surrounding Sky Valley and the Wild Sky Wilderness are brimming with opportunities for adventure by foot.

Check out some of our favorites hikes near Gold Bar listed below. So what are you waiting for? Lace up your boots and grab your pack, the mountains are calling, and you must go!

What is the weather like in the Central Cascades? Expand

Our winter season (November-March) will be slushy to snowy and more than a few trails will be closed – prepare for cold conditions ranging from -5° to 35°. 

Our spring season (March-June) is short but rather wet. Snow melting, glacial runoff, and “April showers” make our mountains a wet place to be. Expect lower temperatures ranging from frosty mornings around 30-40° to warmer afternoons in the 60s-70s. 

Summer season here (June-September) can be in the mid 50s to over 100° at times. Plan for cooler nights and hotter days, packing plenty of water and sunscreen for hikes in the summer. 

Our autumn is rather short (September-November) and is just as rainy as spring.  Even without snow, prepare for the possibility in later fall, and wear layers!

For a live view of weather, click here.



What’s the difference between a Discover Pass and a Northwest Forest Pass? Expand

A Discover Pass allows for entry into Washington State’s National Parks – for example, Wallace Falls State Park. A Northwest Forest Pass allows for entry into US forest sites in both Oregon and Washington state for any trail requiring day-use passes.

Where do I get a hiking pass? Expand

Purchase a NW Forest Pass online at this link. Discover Passes can be purchased at many grocery stores and sports equipment stores – Fred Meyers and Big 5 in Monroe both sell them – or at this link

Wallace Falls State Park

Just outside of Gold Bar, this three-tiered hike ranges in difficulty from easy to moderate. You’ll hike woodsy trails gaining in elevation to views of roaring waterfalls, wide rivers, and towering old growth trees. This hike is popular, so weekday and early morning hikes are suggested. You can expect parking to be full on weekends and holidays. Dogs are welcome on the trail when leashed. Bring your kids and don’t forget your discover pass! 5.6 miles Roundtrip. 1300 feet Elevation. Discover Pass required.

Lake Serene

Accessible from Mt. Index Road near the town of Index, Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls are sister hikes. Enjoy yourself far in the wilderness with a moderately hard hike with sights aplenty. Kids more adept in activity will enjoy this difficult hike, and you can bring your furry friends (as long as they’re leashed!). 8.2 miles, roundtrip 2000 feet Elevation gain Northwest Forest Pass required.

Lake Valhalla

After a drive down a rumbly service road, the trailhead for Lake Valhalla will serve as a gateway to the Pacific Crest Trail. Smithbrook and Stevens Pass both have entries for this trail. The payoff of a gorgeous lake is well worth the moderately hard hike. Berries, wildflowers, waterfalls, and beautiful foliage can be expected on this trail. 7.0 miles, roundtrip 1500 feet Elevation gain No passes required. No pets allowed.

Deception Falls

This hike is a quick stop off of Highway 2 for a nature break. A quick 5 minute walk from the parking section will allow for views of a thunderous waterfall. There’s a half-mile interpretive trail that is optional for extra waterfall action, as well. 0.5 miles, roundtrip 50 feet Elevation gain. ADA accessible. No passes required.

Bridal Veil Falls

Accessible from Mt. Index Road near the town of Index, Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls are sister hikes. This hike is of moderate difficulty with amazing payoffs of massive waterfalls and mountain views. Pets and kids alike will enjoy this summery trail! 4.0 miles, roundtrip 1000 feet Elevation gain Northwest Forest Pass required
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