Guidebook author and nature photographer Tami Asars has spent virtually every season of her life exploring Washington's trails. If it's worth seeing, she knows how to get there.
"It feeds your soul, and it really has a way of giving you a little more peace than you get in your daily world of dinging and pinging and things that are ringing,” she said, laughing. “When you're out here, you're absorbed and you're marinating in the natural world."
This time of year, the natural world puts on quite a show. Asars recommends five hikes for great autumn colors.
Located just outside North Bend in Olallie State Park, the trail follows the river and leads to three waterfalls. It’s 2.6 miles roundtrip and is easily manageable for kids.
For more seasoned hikers, Shriner Peak is one of the four remaining lookouts in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 8.5 miles roundtrip, at a high elevation – reaching 5,834 feet. The huckleberry bushes turn a deep scarlet in autumn.
For a less-challenging trek, nearby Sheep Lake reaches a similar elevation but is only 3.6 miles roundtrip. Asars describes it as "a tranquil little lake set in a basin below some jagged, craggy peaks. You often see mountain goats - it's a great place to go."
This hike near Leavenworth is also stunning in autumn. It’s 8 miles roundtrip but is described as manageable for hikers of most any ability.
This 7.2 mile roundtrip loop offers hikers multiple reasons to visit – views of ridge lines, lakes and mountains. Asars recommends going on a weekday, if possible – it’s a heavily-trafficked trail on the weekends.
Fall’s clear, brisk says are an ideal time for hiking, since the cooler weather makes it easier to control body temperature, but shorter days also require a greater sense of safety, and Asars suggests packing the “ten essentials” and then some.
“I have a real tiny sleeping bag I like to bring with me, just in case,” she said.
Asars is the author of four guidebooks, available online.