We’re lucky out here in Seattle. With a temperate climate that allows for year-round exploring, it’s easy to get away and find a new trail near your backyard that shows you fantastic highs away from city smog. Some of the best hiking in Washington is just on the other side of our metropolitan realms, from the cascades to mount rainier, so there’s loads of stuff as soon as you step out of downtown Seattle and have a tank of gas and some friends looking to step alongside you.
There are plenty of spots that are dog-friendly as well, as long as you keep your four-legged friends on a leash and on par with the trail expectations. So once you’ve emerged past the city limits, keep reading on and you’ll find some of the best hiking in the Seattle area.
It’s really amazing how many different options we have near the Seattle metropolitan area, and can frankly be a bit overwhelming at first. With so many countless spots of unimaginable beauty, from the north cascades to views of mount rainier, we’re thankful to be near so many areas of beautiful parks and trails. Along our steep peaks, we are also blessed with fantastic waterways like lake serene, snow lake and the alpine lakes, as well as running rivers like the Snoqualmie river.
The Pacific Northwest is littered with gorgeous hiking trails all up and down Interstate 90. But with so many notable spots within reach, we want to focus on the possible routes within our local metropolitan framework. Once you’re out of the parking lot of the local trails, the beauty opens up rather quickly and you enter a new world ripe with dreamy greens and lovely airs. So without further adieu, let’s start to list some of the best hiking trails near Seattle.
1. Mount Si
Mount Is is definitely one of the most popular hiking trails near Seattle. In fact, it’s so popular that over 100,000 hikers venture out to climb past the rocks and challenging terrain to reach the summit each year. The rugged natural beauty surrounding you requires some arduous preparation, so be sure to stretch before embarking on the path. The last thing you’d want to do is injure yourself within the first few miles because you hadn’t adequately prepared for the steep grades ahead. The 8-mile roundtrip hike has a considerable altitude gain, around 3,100 feet in the first four miles.
We would definitely restrain from going through a gym workout the day before, your claves are sure to get a killer workout just trying to keep up with the other lovely hikers alongside you. But that being said, the first few miles also offer some of the most splendid and savory moments, including the opportunity to appreciate the old-growth forest around you. Feel free to take it slowly upon the initial entryway and admire the greenery alongside you.
This medium or difficult style hike is popular within the region and hiker community, but be sure that you know what you’re signing up for before you make the drive out to the area. After all, there’s a fantastic sprawling view of the Cascades, Seattle and the Olympic mountains of the summit, but if you’re huffing and puffing to the point where you may fall flat on your face, well, perhaps you should’ve stuck to something a bit more manageable.
So while we absolutely recommend this hike for the stunning views and engaging community around you on the trails, know that it’s no walk in the park. In fact, it’s a walk up a steep mountain and you should have a great pair of hiking boots that you’re laced into.
You can’t spell Seattle without spelling Discovery Park. Well, I suppose you could if you wanted to spell the name of the city correctly, but everyone knows and loves this park for its fantastic accessibility and good vibes. The 2.8-mile roundtrip loop trail that goes around the limits of the park is a great way to spend the afternoon on whether the sun is shining or not. The terrain is more varied than you would expect as one venturing through a city park, and in fact, goes through both open meadows and dense forest woods. There are a few viewpoints overlooking Puget sound and plenty of places to stop and take a break to take in the sensational beauty we’re bestowed here on the west coast.
And for the kiddos in your community, it’s a fantastic option. The relatively flat elevation changes mean it’s easy on the knees that work great both for the younger offspring and the older parents, making it a solid choice the whole family can enjoy. If you’re looking for something simple and easy that doesn’t skimp on great views and gorgeous scenery, look no further than Discovery Park.
If you love hiking and are new to Seattle, it won’t be long before you make a visit out to Mount Pilchuck. Famous in Seattle’s hiking community, it’s a fantastic scenic blend of mountainous and forest views. And while it may same like a broken record always lauding the fantastic views at the height of a mountain’s summit, the 360 panorama views from here really are spectacular. You can see Mount Baker and Mount Rainier, and even the Olympic Mountains on clear days.
It’s such a well-known trail synonymous with the local crowd that in the summer days, when our cities infamous fog has lifted even just a little bit, the trails are packed with families and group trips of folks schlepping up the side of the trail. So just know that you aren’t going to be the only one up there, but that makes it more of a fun, universal adventure. Part of the joy of living on the west coast is the wholesome approach to nature activities, and our Mount Pilchuck trail is no different.
We’d rate the challenge of this trail at around a medium difficulty, with a roundtrip adventure of around 5.4 miles. Not so easy that you could waltz around backward and make it around in a comfortable time, but you’re not going to need to plan and bring a map to survive the summit. Just make sure your boots are clean enough to survive the occasionally slick surfaces below you and bring the other necessities like water and sunscreen.
While we’ll give you a minute to get down the giggles from this hike’s silly name, know that Poo Poo point is one of the most fun hikes around Seattle. It’s a pretty demanding 7.2-mile roundtrip excursion, but still offers plenty of sweet sights and smells from the forest and fauna.
To get out to the trail, you have to find the west tiger mountain. While that sounds like something out of a karate kid token of wisdom, it’s actually just another one of the easily accessible mountains in the region, just east of the city off of I-90.
If you want to do something fun and stay off your feet, the summit here is a great place to dry paragliding. This popular launching point is well-known to all the locals within this community, making it a fun way to see different kinds of hikers on the steps up the mountain.
The trail starts in a calming forested area before heading through some open meadows which are stuffed with gorgeous wildflowers if you catch them in season. We recommend sometime around April or May, but there’s always something nice to see as you’re stepping upside the mountain. And after the several creek crossings along the way, you’ll find yourself at the wide open-mouth summit area. It’s a fantastic sport that’s both popular for a snack or a sweet point for paragliders to fly off into the abyss.
Rattlesnake Ledge is one of our favorite hikes when the weather starts to heat up. It’s a simple four-mile roundtrip loop that overlooks Rattlesnake Lake the whole time. I always like to head out there with a change of clothes and a pair of swimming trunks, because the shimmering water below is just so appetizing it takes a lot of personal restraint to take a dip in. Just waning you now, it’s a bit colder than you may think, seeing the sunshine shimmering over the ripples of the waves.
It’s essentially a pretty fun hike with a dramatic ending. Nothing that wouldn’t make a Game of Thrones fan blush, but the final approach is basically like a steep drop, so be careful with dogs or small children. It certainly takes you by surprise when you first reach the end, so if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s a sign that offers a slower, longer roundabout way back to the finish which could be nice for people with knee problems or those a bit older.
Whatever you choose, know that you picked well and I hope you didn’t forget to bring a towel. One of the highlights of this trail is that it rests atop a gorgeous lake, so be sure to take a plunge whenever you get a chance!
If you’re looking for a lovely hike that overlooks that calming flows of a gentle lake, look no further than the rattlesnake ledge trail. But the ledge can be a bit daunting, so be sure that both yourself and everyone in your hiking group is physically able to place themselves in an occasionally compromising situation as you move down the last steep slant of granite.
6. Mailbox Peak
This challenging day hike is legendary within the Seattle outdoorsmen community. A super steep hike with several switchbacks and creek crossings, be sure to lace up your boots well.
This nine and a half-mile hike requires some legs and organized gear, so make sure this isn’t your first hike of the season when you step out in the morning. The elevation gain is around 850 feet per mile, so you feel like you’re just constantly stepping up and up and up. Of course, once you’ve hit the peak, we find that the panoramas are well worth the arduous trek. And thanks to the iconic name, be sure to take a photo alongside the famous mailbox that rests atop the mountain summit.
If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly walk that’s a bit different than what you’re used to, we’d recommend Ebey’s Landing. To arrive at the destination, you need to hop onto a ferry for a quick ride, something that always excites the little ones and makes for great memories. Some of my warmest memories of family outings full of laughter were when we were out on a boat because it’s such a rare experience that it’s sure to sear into your mind.
And out on Whidbey Island, there’s this simple 5.6-mile hike that’s a great family day activity. It’s not so challenging on the body, and the fresh air you breathe surrounded by the thrilling winds and quaint cafés that greet you upon arrival make for some photo-ready moments.
As you continue on the path, plenty of fun views start to show on the trails. There’s even an expansive bluff you can see out on from the island, as well as plentiful views of Puget Sound and the other nearby farms. It really helps you get your bearings on the regional geography when you can take a boat to a different viewing point.
The best part is, once you’ve worked up an appetite, head into nearby Coupeville for lunch, or even consider packing the tent and spending the night in Ebey State Park. You could spend a simple afternoon or even a weekend out on the Landing, but I wouldn’t recommend staying out there any longer than that. While it is a lovely place to hang out in, it doesn’t offer plentiful paths and various trails to embark on like the other state parks in the area.
Wallace Falls State Park holds some of the most pristine natural waterfalls in the state. And we love this moderate 5.6-mile hike for the super waterfalls you get to see as well as the views of the Skykomish River valley and the Olympic Mountains that are also nearby.
While the trail gets some considerable foot traffic, all that means is it’s best to wake up early to have enough time and space to prance around the trails. For the first two and a half-mile trail that takes you to the Middle Falls viewpoint, the journey is pretty manageable. But if there’s still some spring in your step, continue following the Woody Trail to the Upper Falls portion to see the last of the nine available waterfalls on the trail.
If you don’t think you can make it, know that there are a few different styles of the hike you can make out of this terrain. To be honest, the hike is stunning from start to finish, so don’t feel bad if you hope to hang out and do a bit less than some of your more ambitious friends.
Initially you step alongside the Wallace river, before making a short, steep climb upwards toward the picnic area right next to the lower falls summit. We recommend here as a good place to munch on a power bar or something for substantial and have a chance to rest and reward yourself for the steep climb to just reach this point. It’s then another half-mile trail upwards towards the middle falls, which have the best views in the past. There’s a gorgeous panoramic vista of the Skykomish River valley and off in the distance are the Olympic mountains.
With so many gorgeous hikes near Seattle, it’s tough to pick a certified that will satisfy all participants. That being said, we love Poo Poo Point for the fantastic variety in provides you as you step along the backside of the mountain. Especially if you’re able to get there on an early spring day and find yourself to have the trek to yourself, there’s really not a place on the planet I’d rather be.
But in my mind, what makes the best hikes in Seattle is not the terrain or the gorgeous views that liter this incredible state, but the friends and companions you travel alongside you. One of my favorite aspects of living in the Pacific Northwest is the broad appreciation of nature impounded into our culture, and it seems anyone is keen for a day of hiking over slippery rocks and through narrow ravines. To be able to share the incredible views with even better friends, that is the real joy of living out in this neck of the woods. So get together your gang of friends or family and start planning your next trip today.
Bonus tip: For some great video of the breathtaking views we’ve talked about in this video, check out this fantastic video!