Hiking | Nature | Sightseeing | Things To Do

Top 5 Fall Hikes in Central Washington

October 5, 2023

Central Washington shows some of the most vibrant fall colors in Washington. There are plenty of beautiful hikes that will have you wanting to escape your home and get outdoors to enjoy the crisp air and falling leaves. It is time for you to explore a few places in Central Washington that you have not been to before. Get your thermos, a jacket, and some warm socks to pair with your favorite hiking boots and get out to explore these top five fall hikes in Central Washington.


The Cooper River Trail is an intermediate hike along the river. As you make your way along the trail, you will be able to enjoy the river and some of the most spectacular fall colors you’ll ever see. The hike includes views of old-growth forest with wildflowers and wildlife if you’re lucky. The beginning of the hike starts off with the river and places to sit on rocks and splash water around. Along the trail, it will turn into a fork taking you to either a steep trail up the Polallie Ridge or continue down by the river.


Umtanum Creek Falls is perfect for a short hike in the fall, located outside of Ellensburg. This trail is 3 miles roundtrip and has a 40-foot waterfall. Have kids to bring along? No problem! This trail is here for the whole family to enjoy. Along the hike, you will come across pine and douglas-fir trees, the sweet smell of sagebrush, and views of a nearby canyon. The waterfall spills into a pool surrounded by basalt walls on three sides.


During late fall, the beautiful autumn colors start to come out across the De Roux Spur in Teanaway. With the 7.9 mile trail, you will walk alongside a stunning forest setting. Even though this trail is rated as difficult, it is often used for hiking, nature trips, and even trail running. Hikers love this trail in the fall to experience the gorgeous yellows, oranges, and reds that nature has to offer.


The Kittitas County region is home to the beautiful and colorful Spade Lake on Mount Daniel. The trail leading to Spade Lake starts just above Waptus Lake and heads straight up, going through an old-growth forest. This hike is pretty intense, being 25.6 miles round trip. After 1.25 miles from Waptus, the trail goes along the mountainside winding through some meadows and smaller trees. It will eventually open up with a great view of the surrounding mountains and Spake Creek. Be ready for high elevation and great views on this hike. Make sure you have a Northwest Forest Pass to park!


Red Top Lookout is ready to give you an outstanding view of fall colors. This short, steep trail is guaranteed to give you magnificent views of Stuart Range, Teanaway Ridge, and even Mount Rainier and Mount Adams on clear days. You start the hike with a short, shaded forest that then leads to the steep 0.5-mile climb. Don’t forget to stop to take a break and admire the beauty of wildflowers and falling leaves. The lookout is staffed by volunteers from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you plan on going inside the lookout, make sure you go when there is staff present, otherwise the doors will be locked.

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