Rainy Lake Trail is an easy, paved journey to a stunning vista over Rainy Lake in an Alpine valley. The trail is located in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in the Northern Cascades, and though this 4 million acre wilderness sprawls in every direction, the trail is accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and short-legged doggos.
The trailhead is just 70 miles south of the Canadian border in Washington, and one of the payoffs is a view of the glacier. Since snows linger on the trail until at least mid-June, the hike is best done in late summer for those inexperienced with ice. The North Cascades Highways generally doesn't open for travel until mid-May anyway; it remains open until the snows make travel unsafe around Thanksgiving each year.
In balmy weather, this hike yields barkworthy views that even the silliest pups will "paws" to appreciate. The walk to the viewing platform is rich in native flora and fauna, but it's the view over the lake that draws visitors from near and far. The water is so clear that some visitors report being able to count the fish, and the lake is framed by steep mountains on all sides. Best of all is the scenic waterfall that your fur-babies will wish they could splash in (but it's not recommended: the water is glacier-cold).
A small parking area for the Rainy Creek Trail is located on the west side of the North Cascades Highway at mile-marker 158. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to use the parking and trail; the $30 annual fee helps fund trail maintenance and regulate the use of fragile ecosystems.
You'll hit an elevation of 4,800 feet on this walk, but the trail itself is fairly level. Be sure to bring plenty of water for you and your pup even though the hike isn't strenuous; it's easy to become dehydrated at high elevation. You'll want a camera to record the view (and all the cute things your pup does on the walk, obviously).