There are plenty of mountains in the US, but the ones in Washington stand in a league of their own. From volcanic peaks like Mount Baker to the tricky technical climbs of Forbidden Peak, Washington’s mountains are as diverse as they are numbered. Many of these mountains are not for beginners, and some of them should really only be attempted by experts with a lot of experience in hiking and rock climbing, but one thing is for certain: Every single one of the mountains on this list is staggeringly gorgeous, with a view from the top that is simply unbelievable. Photo: Gloria Moeller/Fotolia
25 Most Beautiful Mountains of Washington State
- Mount Olympus, Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Boswell - Fotolia.com
- Mount Shuksan, Photo: Courtesy of Bill Perry - Fotolia.com
- Mount Baker, Photo: Courtesy of Galyna Andrushko - Fotolia.com
- Glacier Peak, Photo: Courtesy of Bill Perry - Fotolia.com
- Eldorado Peak, Photo: Courtesy of cascoly2 - Fotolia.com
- Sahale Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of vlukas - Fotolia.com
- Dragontail Peak, Photo: Courtesy of Shakzu - Fotolia.com
- Sherman Peak, Photo: Courtesy of Sofi - Fotolia.com
- Lost Peak, Photo: Courtesy of prophoto24 - Fotolia.com
- Big Snow, Photo: Courtesy of Maks_ershov - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Gloria Moeller - Fotolia.com
Hidden away in the Cascade Valley, Forbidden Peak was previously referred to as Mount Forgotten and Isosceles Peak before the moniker of Forbidden Peak finally stuck. This mountain, with its picturesque triangular summit, contains a number of challenging routes for climbers, who must have a certain level of comfort with technical climbing before attempting this peak. With several different routes to the top, none of them are considered easy, as each involves not only hiking but also scrambling and rock climbing, but the views from Forbidden Peak’s loft summit make all the trouble worthwhile in the end.
Mount Pilchuck, which is not located very far from Seattle, is one of the most popular hiking destinations for would-be mountaineers in Washington. Its status as an old lookout point means that it has spectacular views, both above and below the clouds. The opportunity to hike this mountain is often used as a stepping stone for beginner hikers to get their footing on a mountain, see some amazing views without a massive amount of exertion, and experience the summit of a truly beautiful mountain. The mountain is located within Mount Pilchuck State Park and requires a permit to enter or camp upon its grounds.
Davis Peak has many summits, and which one is the highest has long been a topic of debate. The only way to really be sure that Davis Peak has been summitted is to make sure to hit all of them. The four main peaks each offer different sightseeing opportunities, and the approach to the summit follows a pretty straightforward ridge to the top. Davis Peak used to be a lookout site, so the view from the top offers some amazing views into the surrounding area, including towards Terrance and Opal Lakes. The Davis Peak Trail also offers the easiest ascent to nearby Goat Mountain; the two are easy to combine into one trip.
Abercrombie Mountain is quite a popular peak to climb, both because of its prominence (just over 5,100 feet), and the fact that it does not require any technical climbing to reach the top, making this mountain accessible for beginner peak baggers looking to add to their repertoire. From the summit of Abercrombie Mountain, visitors have the option to continue on to Hooknose Mountain or simply view the valley and the Selkirk Mountain Range behind it. Hikers on Abercrombie Mountain should take care to watch for grizzly bears and prepare accordingly.
On the eastern border of Olympic National Park is Warrior Peak, a tall, rocky mountain framed at its base by green, forested slopes. It is a double summited peak, with the southeast summit being about 15 feet higher than the northwest peak. Warrior Peak is quite remote, with several approaches to the top, and the shortest of these is 10 miles one way, which means that any excursion to this mountain should be done over at least two days. The three main approaches to Warrior Peak include the Upper Dungeness Trail, the Upper Big Quilcene Trail, and the Tubal Cain Trail.
Tower Mountain is not the most popular peak to climb in its region, due to its imposing appearance and in particular the intimidating tower of rock that stretches up at its peak. The exposed granite at the top affords views into the North Cascades and the Glacier Peak region. On one side, the summit can be reached by a relatively easy Class 3 climb, but on the other side the wall of rock is nearly vertical and requires a level of technical finesse. The shortest route to the summit is 10 miles, and the longest route is 23 miles long, although the shorter routes require more bushwhacking than the longer ones.
At 6,125 feet elevation, Baring Mountain is not the highest peak in Washington, but it does merit distinction in that it is one of the steepest. A ridge along the northwest edge of this rugged mountain is the most used access route to the summit, although a much more difficult, but rarely used, route along the southern peak, is also established. The dramatic overhang of Baring’s peak is imposing as it looms over the land below, and the sheer cliffs at its head are visible for miles away. This seldom climbed mountain is often compared with the climbs at Yosemite, except that the rock has a reputation for being loose and rotten. Climbers should take great care when attempting to summit Baring Mountain.
Bonanza Peak makes for a wicked climb in the North Cascades of Washington. It’s not the most technically difficult of any of the mountains on this list, but it does require a wide variety of skills, from glacier crossing to steep rock climbing, scrambling, and crevasse navigation. This obstacle course of a mountain beckons true mountaineers wishing to challenge their skills, and the resulting hike is one that should allow hikers to feel confident tackling almost any other mountain in the country. To reach Bonanza Peak, visitors can take the Lady of the Lake Ferry to Lucerne, where they will find the trailhead.
Mount Logan is home to three glaciers and most routes to the summit will require a trip across one or more of them. At the top of the mountain, visitors should expect a Class 4 climb to the summit rock. It’s a remote peak and surrounded by a small cluster of other remote peaks – Buckner, Storm King, Goode, and Black – so that hikers sometimes attempt all of these mountains in the same loop. The hike to the top of Mount Logan usually takes about 3 to 4 days, and the quickest ascent, via the Douglas Glacier, is one of the most difficult, so most hikers use the Fremont Glacier as their standard approach.
Although the view from atop any mountain tends to be beautiful, with sweeping panoramas of jagged landscapes far below, many consider the view from the summit of Luna Peak to be the best view in the state of Washington. Located within North Cascades National Park, Luna Peak is rugged and remote, a true reminder of the vast wilderness that lurks just beyond the reaches of human civilization. The summit offers views of lakes, forests, and mountains for miles, and the hike to the top reaches Class 2 or 3 at its most difficult.
With a prominence of 2,560 feet and a blanket of snow over it for most of the year, Red Peak is a fun peak to summit, either by hiking or in snowshoes. There are several peaks in Washington by this name, but Red Peak, located near Cle Elum, is the better known of them. The trail length to the summit is about 3 miles, making it one of the shorter hikes on this list, with an elevation gain of about 3,200 feet. There are campgrounds near Red Mountain but due to its short length, summiting this peak should only take part of one day.
Mount Fury is an extremely remote mountain in the Northern Pickets, and the journey to the top of this mountain is long in both time and distance. With two peaks of equal elevation, summiting the second after the first will take a full extra day, but the views from each of these summits, of snow capped rocky peaks framed by blue skies, make everything completely worth it. Camping on Mount Fury is possible and easy in a few established sites, but campers should be aware of any number of small animals on the mountain that may be interested in their food.
Old Snowy is a popular mountain within the Goat Rocks Range, with a summit that is quite close to the famous Pacific Crest Trail, which extends for over 2,500 miles across the West Coast of the US. The trail will lead through meadows and vast patches of wildflowers to the snowy summit, where hikers can expect to find stunning views of Mount Rainier, Adams, and Saint Helens, as well as the other peaks of the Goat Rocks. Advanced mountaineers can even find a route from the summit of Old Snowy over to the neighboring Ives Peak.
Unicorn Peak is named for the tall spire of rock that extends from its top, much like the horn of a certain mythical creature. Coming in at 6,971 feet elevation, Unicorn Peak is a mountain that requires some Class 5 climbing to summit, but this shouldn’t deter beginners. Unicorn Peak is actually well known as an easy peak for amateur climbers to learn on, so long as they have an experienced climber there to lead and show them the way. There are several different routes to the summit, and from the top, climbers can expect a spectacular view of Mount Rainier.
The summit of Purcell Mountain used to be home to a watchtower, until it was torn down during the 1950s, but evidence of the tall structure still can be found at the top of this peak. Also easily spotted from the summit are patches of the mountain that have been heavily logged over the past decade or two, which give extra visibility to a landscape that is already breathtaking. Purcell is not difficult to summit, and it is a good hike for a beginner looking for an introduction to mountain hiking.