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12 Top-Rated Hikes near Seattle

Apr 21, 2017

Seattle is a popular place to live for many reasons, whether it's the art and culture scene or the bustling industries that build our nation. But something that everyone can enjoy not far from the city center is easy access to some of the grandest natural environments in the country. Surrounded by road-trip worthy attractions, hikers and explorers can choose from the Cascade Mountains, including Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Park, the Olympic Mountains, or the many marinas of the Puget Sound for day trip hikes and extended adventures. While the city of Seattle itself holds enough excitement to keep you busy for years to come, it pales in comparison to the enormous amount of fun found not far away on the many hiking trails and scenic spots surrounding the city.

1 Discovery Park Loop

Discovery Park Loop
Discovery Park Loop
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One of the most easily accessed trails in Seattle, the Discovery Park Loop features the spectacular scenery for which the city is famed. Located in the Magnolia neighborhood, the 2.8-mile hiking trail that navigates through the 534 acres of this city-side natural space is jam packed with scenic attractions, including tidal beaches, meadow lands, forest groves, sand dunes, and plenty of water features. It's the views that make Discovery Park even better though, and on a clear day visitors can expect to see the sparkling waters of the Puget Sound and the craggy peaks of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, offering a perfect retreat from the skyscraper and stoplight routine in the city.

Address: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, Washington

2 Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Ledge
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Just east of Tiger Mountain State Forest, and about forty-five minutes from Seattle, the Rattlesnake Ledge trail is part of the larger Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area and provides a short hike that will get your blood pumping fast. Near the city of North Bend, the Rattlesnake Ledge trail sees many users on the weekends and throughout the week, but the foot traffic has made the path up clearly defined, and once you get to the top of this stout little hike full of switchbacks, you'll see for yourself that the views overlooking the Cedar River Watershed are big enough to share. On clear days, hikers are also exposed to panoramic views of Mount Si, Mount Washington, and the surrounding lakes of the area, making every step of this four-mile round-trip worth the effort.

3 Ebey's Landing

Ebey's Landing
Ebey's Landing
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Heading west from Seattle and into the enchanting waters of the Puget Sound, you'll find so many things to explore in this unique estuary. A good place to start, and one that is easily accessible via a short drive and ferry ride from Seattle, are the hiking trails found on Ebey's Landing, located on Whidbey Island next to the historic town of Coupeville. While there are many ways to explore the unique wonder of Ebey's Landing, which is also designated as a National Historic Reserve, the best way to get a full dose of this iconic Puget Sound scenery is to hike along the Bluff Trail, which exposes hikers and visitors of all athletic levels to beautiful views of the surrounding coastal environment.

Address: 400 Hill Valley Drive, Coupeville, Washington

4 Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls
Wallace Falls
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Wallace Falls is one of the most popular state parks in Washington, and while that partly has to do with its one-hour vicinity from Seattle, it's the natural attractions at Wallace Falls State Park that really draw a crowd. Not just limited to the 265-foot namesake waterfall, Wallace Falls State Park also has eight more waterfalls to appreciate, old-growth forests to wander through, and a surrounding environment carved out by the fast moving water of the Wallace River. Hikers can explore all that Wallace Falls offers with relative ease on the 12 miles of well-maintained trails the state park operates, and if busy conditions get you down, you can often find solitude on the trails in the early mornings, especially on weekdays.

Address: 14503 Wallace Lake Road, Gold Bar, Washington

5 Editor's Choice Kendall Katwalk

Kendall Katwalk
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For anyone who loves adventure in Seattle, Snoqualmie Pass is no stranger. That's because in every season, Snoqualmie Pass, just under an hour from Seattle off Interstate 90, provides access to some of the best recreation in the country. Whether it's snow sports in the winter or hiking throughout the warmer months, people from Seattle and beyond always flock to this adventure destination, filling the mountain pass and surrounding parking areas full of car racks and happy campers.

A great example of the fun at Snoqualmie Pass is the Kendall Katwalk trail that heads north from the pass and into the epitome of Pacific Northwest scenery, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Mostly tackled as a 10- to 14-mile out-and-back hiking trip, the Kendall Katwalk trail is part of the cross-country Pacific Crest Trail and features big elevation gains, a narrow path among steep cliff sides, and a full exposure into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the many features it's named after. This hike is not really suitable for beginner day hikers, but get an early start on this hiking trail and some experience under your feet, and you'll be amazed to see the natural environments on display so close to Seattle.

6 Crystal Lakes

Crystal Lakes
Crystal Lakes
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While Mount Rainier National Park is a bit farther from Seattle than other hiking areas, with an early start or fast hiking speed, you can enjoy day hikes and weekend adventures here. A great option is the Crystal Lakes Trail in the Northeast section of the national park. Seattle commuters can access the trailhead in under two hours, and ambitious hikers can make the six-mile round-trip hike up to both lakes in three hours, leaving the rest of the afternoon to soak up the surroundings. Hikers looking to lay their eyes upon the majestic Crystal Lakes must tackle 2,600 feet of elevation gain, but all the beauty found on this adventurous day hike is worth it.

7 Mailbox Peak

Mailbox Peak
Mailbox Peak laffertyryan / photo modified
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Not far from the Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area along the Interstate 90 corridor, Mailbox Peak has challenged the calf muscles of Seattle citizens and beyond for generations and is the perfect hiking trail to test your stamina and strength as you make your way to the top. Switchbacks are the name of the game for the new Mailbox Peak trail that was recently constructed by volunteers. This brilliant display of trail work gains more than 4,000 feet of elevation in the 4.5 miles it takes to reach the summit, leading many people to question their motives about halfway up. But get to the top and feel rewarded for your work, and with big views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding Middle Fork Valley stretching out before your eyes, plus of course an actual mailbox containing a trail register and perhaps some other goodies, you'll be thankful for the sore calf muscles the following morning.

8 Mount Pilchuck Lookout

Mount Pilchuck Lookout
Mount Pilchuck Lookout Jessie Hey / photo modified
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Despite being a respectable two-hour drive from downtown Seattle, the Mount Pilchuck Lookout trail remains one of the most popular in the area. With such rewarding views offered in such a relatively short hike, it's easy to see why legions of hikers ascend this mountain every day of the year. While it's only 2.7 miles to the top of Mount Pilchuck, don't let the short distance distract you from the difficulty of the 2,300 feet of elevation to the top. Your legs will burn as they navigate the fields of shale that comprise much of this marked trail, but your wanderlust will appreciate the big views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker, and the North Cascades exposed at the summit. The retired fire lookout on top of Mount Pilchuck serves as a great place to have some lunch before heading back down, and day hikers can even turn their trip into an overnight one with the first-come, first-serve lodging options in the lookout, just be prepared to have some company if you do.

9 Soaring Eagle Regional Park

Soaring Eagle Regional Park
Soaring Eagle Regional Park Jessie Hey / photo modified
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About 20 miles east of Seattle on Interstate 90, Soaring Eagle Regional Park contains 600 acres of wilderness habitat primed for the perfect day hike away from the city. Welcoming all types of adventures, including day hikes, mountain bike rides, and the occasional trail running event, this celebrated natural space is accessed through the city of Sammamish, and the 12-mile trail system that spider webs throughout the park is often shared with wildlife in the area, including black bears, black-tailed deer, and multiple species of birds. The hiking and biking trails at Soaring Eagle welcome every type of athlete, from those who are looking for a challenging trail run to parents pushing strollers, and with a close enough proximity to Seattle to visit after work, you can have a great adventure at Soaring Eagle Regional Park no matter the day of the week.

Address: 26015 E. Main Dr, Sammamish, Washington

10 Poo-Poo Point

Poo-Poo Point
Poo-Poo Point Peter Stevens / photo modified
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On the shoulder of West Tiger Mountain, as part of the larger colloquially named Issaquah Alps, Poo-Poo Point is a great location for day hikers and paragliders alike. That's because not only are the views from the top worth the hike up, but the relatively flat, open space found on this summit is perfect for paragliders to ride the air currents. The trailhead for Poo-Poo Point can be found just 20 miles east of Seattle in the city of Issaquah, and hikers have their choice of two different trails to reach this celebrated summit. The choice is between two round-trips, either the seven-mile Poo-Poo Point Trail or the four-mile Chirico trail, and before you go ahead and take the shorter mileage, keep in mind both trails gain nearly 2,000 feet, but rest assured whichever way you go, the views atop Poo-Poo Point are well worth the effort.

11 Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls
Franklin Falls
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For a fun and rewarding hike for the whole family, Franklin Falls, near Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, is a fairly simple two-mile round-trip trail that delivers a big natural attraction. With a fairly flat grade and well-maintained trail, the trip to see the impressive Franklin Falls is a relatively easy one, making this gushing water a popular spot throughout the year, including the winter months, when the falls are still surging alongside unbelievably huge icicles. Whatever time of year you decide to check out Franklin Falls, it's an ideal hike for first-timers and old pros alike, and within an hour from Seattle, it's a bucket-list hike that should be checked off everyone's list.

12 Grand Forest

Grand Forest
Grand Forest
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The Grand Forest, a short ferry ride away from Seattle on Bainbridge Island, is a family-friendly getaway into a place that lives up to its name. Featuring three distinct parcels of land: East, West, and North Grand Forest, each area has its own acreage and trail system, with the East and West connected by the popular Hilltop Trail. Approximately eight miles of trails lie within these three areas, and every step of the way displays beautiful, big trees such as cedars, firs, and maples. The terrain is easily navigated by every member of the family in the Grand Forest, even the four-legged ones, and you can expect some company no matter the time of year. With the surrounding Puget Sound to explore after you're finished at the Grand Forest, there is plenty more to explore outside of these scenic hiking trails.

Address: 9752 Miller Road NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

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