You can take all kinds of scenic wooden paths here in Washington. Some of them wind through forest, while others stretch over wetlands or water – but they always add a unique sense of adventure. This summer, head down any of these 12 boardwalks across the state for a peaceful, memorable stroll through nature.
1. Picture Lake Path, North Cascades National Park (Heather Meadows area)
A short, half-mile path leads out to this postcard-ready viewpoint over Picture Lake, with Mount Shukan mirrored in the sparkling water. The easygoing, wheelchair-accessible trail combines both pavement and boardwalk, so everyone can enjoy the trip.
2. The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (Olympia)
You can actually take several routes in this refuge, but one of the most impressive is the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail. This four-mile boardwalk stretches over the Nisqually River delta on the southern end of Puget Sound, with seemingly endless wildlife, including several bird species, frogs, otters, and seals - to name a few.
3. Trail of Two Forests (near Mount St. Helens)
Appropriately named, the Trail of Two Forests winds through two forests, side-by-side, that have an age difference of more than 2,000 years. One of them is old-growth, while the other is much younger after it had been wiped out by lava from Mount St. Helens long ago. This short boardwalk loops between the two for less than a half-mile, and is known to be both kid and wheelchair-friendly.
4. Grove of the Patriarch’s Loop (Mount Rainier National Park)
The Grove of Patriarch's Loop is one of the easiest, most enchanting trails you can take in Mount Rainier National Park. This short, family-friendly path heads along a boardwalk through some of the oldest forest in Washington, and over a bouncy suspension bridge to a grove of towering old trees.
5. North Creek Park, Bothell
This unique floating boardwalk was only recently completed in late 2015. It's built with plastic foam floats underneath the decking, allowing anyone to go for a peaceful walk through marsh without having to get their shoes or socks wet.
6. Cape Flattery
A short, dreamy boardwalk leads out here to the
of the lower 48 states. The trail follows an enchanting wooden path for only about a 3/4 mile as it passes by several platforms overlooking the tree-topped seastacks and Pacific Ocean.
7. Marymoor Park, Redmond
A lot of people know about the outdoor concerts at this park, but not many are aware there's also a lovely boardwalk you can take out to Lake Sammamish. It starts out near the South Lot (the main dog area), and leads out to a serene viewing platform overlooking the lake. The trail then continues through a forested area out to East Meadow, and then finally loops back over to the lot.
8. The Boardwalk at Boulevard Park (Bellingham)
This boardwalk over the water offers an easy stroll with phenomenal views of the San Juans and Bellingham Bay. And with a lovely cafe right there (Woods Coffee) and several benches along the way, there's plenty of opportunity to sit, enjoy your drink and take in all of the vistas.
9. West Blackhorse Lake Boardwalk, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (Cheney)
This easygoing path at the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge offers a nice stroll along a short wooden boardwalk. After only about 0.2 of a mile, the path leads up to a viewing area where you can stop and snap photos of the lake and wetlands surrounding it.
10. Mercer Slough Nature Park, Bellevue
In the heart of Bellevue, this park boasts three main trails, two of which feature boardwalks through wetlands - the Bellefields Loop Trail, and the Heritage Loop Trail. Both alternate between wooden boardwalk and dirt paths, filled with colorful flowers, shrubs and berries along the way.
11. The Sandpiper Trail at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge (Hoquiam)
At about a mile long, this path leads through mudflats and forest before opening up to the beautiful shores of Grays Harbor. From there, you'll be able to spot several different species of shorebirds, along with picturesque views of the water and nearby forested bluffs.
12. Shadow of the Sentinels Trail, Baker Lake area
Half-paved, half-boardwalk, this short trail winds through old-growth forest with trees that are taller than you can imagine. The towering, ancient trees have actually been growing for the last 500 years. The interpretative signs along the way will tell you which ones are Douglas fir and which are cedar.
Have you been on any of these before? Where are some of your favorite boardwalks in Washington?