9 GORGEOUS Hiking and Running Trails in Greenwater Lakes Area, WA

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The Greenwater Lakes area is something you don’t want to miss. Washington is known for fantastic hiking trails, and this location is the reason why.

Stunning lakes, breathtaking waterfalls, and mountain peaks with sweeping views make Greenwater a popular hiking spot. You can hike here for months, and you won’t get tired of the landscape. 

The only downfall is that the hiking season is short, with snow covering many trails even in May. But if you are a seasoned hiker, this won’t stop you.

Distances are given from Greenwater town (for reference).

Trails near Greenwater Lakes:

  1. Greenwater Lakes Trail + Echo Lake
  2. Snoquera Falls Loop
  3. Kelly Butte Trail: #1031
  4. Skookum Flats Trail to Skookum Falls
  5. Palisades Trail: #1198
  6. Noble Knob from the North
  7. PCT: Government Meadows to Arch Rock
  8. Dalles Ridge Trail to Mutton Mountain
  9. Lost Lake Trail

1. Greenwater Lakes Trail + Echo Lake

Greenwater Lakes Trail + Echo Lake
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Time to Complete: 2h 30min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 12 miles (20 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Greenwater Lakes Trail is the most popular trail in the area; it is suitable for any skill level. The path runs along Meadow Creek and crosses it multiple times, so if you like bridges and the sound of the water as you hike, this is an excellent option for you.

The terrain has slight ups and downs but is relatively flat. And, you will hike through the old-growth and moss-covered woods – a classic PNW setting.

The trail extends past the lakes to Echo Lake – a very popular backpacking route. There is the Lost Creek campsite just after Greenwater Lakes to spend the night. 

If you decide to hike all the way to Echo Lake, it’s a 14.5 miles return trip with 2,800 ft of elevation gain. It can be completed in a day by experienced hikers.

2. Snoquera Falls Loop

Snoquera Falls Loop
Photo: chuck b.CC BY 2.0
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 847 ft
  • Time to Complete: 2h 30min
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 10 miles (15 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Snoquera Falls loop is a fantastic hike that leads to a 480-foot waterfall – a breathtaking sight. The flow changes a lot throughout the year, from a trickle in fall to a torrent in spring, so plan accordingly.

The trail itself is rocky and steep in parts, with loose gravel sections, so hiking poles are recommended. It also requires a short scramble if you want to get close to the falls.

The waterfall is a famous landmark, as well as a nice hike, and it can get busy during holidays. Yet, the trailhead is well-developed. There is a campground and option to explore the area further, like climbing to Little Ranger Peak.

3. Kelly Butte Trail: #1031

  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,112 ft
  • Time to Complete: 2h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 16 miles (35 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Kelly Bute Trail is a short but steep hike to the lookout with stunning views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding range. The towering volcano is so close it feels like you can touch it – fantastic photo opportunities.

The trail tricks you as it starts flat and easy, but after a mile, you face a steep set of switchbacks to the bute. Also, the surface has loose gravel, which makes descending slippy; bring hiking poles.

The only complaint about this trail is that it isn’t clearly marked. Despite that, it’s a must-do hike, but pick clear weather to get the best views.

4. Skookum Flats Trail to Skookum Falls

  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 4.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 398 ft
  • Time to Complete: 2h
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 8 miles (10 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Skookum Flats Trail is a fun hike for all the family. It runs along the White River and reaches the glorious Skookum Falls, which you can see from the trail. 

The more adventurous hikers can scramble on all fours to get closer to the falls. Typically, the water stops flowing in August, so visit in spring if you want to see the falls in full glory.

The terrain of the hike is flat and easy, with some roots and boulders. It is the perfect, easily-accessible destination with old growth and river views.

Related: 

5. Palisades Trail: #1198 + Dalles Falls

Palisades Trail: #1198
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 11.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,918 ft
  • Time to Complete: 6h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead (Roadside): Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 9 miles (10 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Palisades Trail is a stunning hike with lots to offer. It runs through the beautiful woods to the Little Ranger Peak. 

The route has challenging switchbacks, Mt. Rainier views, and gorgeous Dalles Falls. It is a fantastic adventure, but not for beginners, as the trail is lengthy and steep.

However, you can visit just the falls (upper and lower). It is only 3 miles long return trip. And although steep, the waterfalls are worth the effort, perfect for those who came just for this.

Additionally, there are two overlooks on the way. Either can be an excellent terminus to the hike if you don’t want to climb all the way to the Peak.

To put it simply, it is a very flexible yet challenging trail with only one disadvantage – an undeveloped trailhead with limited parking.

6. Noble Knob from the North

Noble Knob from the North
Photo: pflyCC BY-SA 2.0
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,284 ft
  • Time to Complete: 2h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 15 miles (35 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Approaching from the north is the most popular way to climb Noble Knob. It is also one of the highest-rated trails in the Greenwater area. The views from the top are breathtaking, with Mt. Rainier dominating the landscape. 

You can take a short, 0.5-mile detour to George Lake as well or continue all the way to Lost Lake with its campsite. It’s a stunning area, and you have a chance to see mountain goats here.

The path itself has steep sections with loose gravel – typical for the area; sturdy shoes and hiking poles will come in handy. Otherwise, it is a well-kept and easy-to-follow trail.

7. PCT: Government Meadows to Arch Rock

PCT: Government Meadows to Arch Rock
Photo: daveyninCC BY 2.0
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 10.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,281 ft
  • Time to Complete: 6h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 19 miles (40 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Government Meadow to Arch Rock route is a chance to taste the legendary PCT that runs from Mexico to Canada borders. This section cuts through the thick forest with classic PNW features. It is also rich in wildlife and very remote – perfect for hikers looking for serenity.

The terrain is rugged and steep, with a few washed-out areas. And although the route is marked with PCT signs, it is advisable to bring GPS for navigation, especially when hiking in the snow.

8. Dalles Ridge Trail to Mutton Mountain

Dalles Ridge Trail to Mutton Mountain
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,118 ft
  • Time to Complete: 3h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 16 miles (35 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Dalles Ridge Trail is the area’s best-kept secret. It is a humbling hike along the ridge with sweeping views and Mt. Rainier as a companion for most of the way.  

You have an option to visit Noble Knob and terminate your hike there or continue all the way to Mutton Mountain and beyond. 

Because the trailhead is already quite high, there isn’t as much elevation to gain as you may think. It is still a walk in the mountains, but it isn’t a climb – an excellent introduction for beginners.

9. Lost Lake Trail

Lost Lake Trail
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 11 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,111 ft
  • Time to Complete: 6h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Lot: Google Maps
  • Distance from Greenwater: 12 miles (20 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Lost Lake Trail is another way to enjoy the Greenwater Lakes area, but it’s less crowded than the popular Echo Lake option (#1), although they start at the same trailhead.

Lost Lake is just as charming as its neighbor, and it has a campsite, too. Also, there is a small Quinn Lake just before the endpoint, which means you will see four gorgeous lakes in one day. 

If you are looking for an alternative to Echo Lake, this is the one. But arrive early to avoid the crowds at Greenwater. 

Final Thoughts

There are many more trails in the area for day-hiking, as well as backpacking. The list above includes only the top-rated routes that most people have enjoyed. If you like hiking in Washington, try our other guides.

Hiking Trails in Washington: 

Lakes in Washington: