16 Top-Rated Hikes near Seattle, WA

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Aug 17, 2023

A significant appeal of Seattle is the city's vicinity to stunning hiking trails. Road-trip-worthy attractions and natural spaces surround all sides of the Emerald City, including Washington's largest natural attraction, the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier. Other notable features include shoreline lighthouses, rushing waterfalls, and grand forests full of color.

Grand Forest
Grand Forest, Bainbridge Island | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Some of the best hiking trails in Seattle, like the trek on Discovery Loop, are within city limits. Others require a short drive or are a reasonable day trip from Seattle. Whatever the case, it helps to plan ahead, as each hiking trail ventures into wild Pacific Northwest territory, sometimes with a good dose of crowds. Heading to the trailhead early in the morning is the best way to avoid crowds on Seattle's best hiking trails.

Find your next adventure with our list of the best hikes near Seattle.

1. Discovery Park Loop, Discovery Park

West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park
West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park

Discover Park, on the northwest shoreline of the Magnolia neighborhood, approximately five miles north of downtown, is one of Seattle's top attractions.

The Discovery Park Loop is one of the most easily accessible trails in the city. A 2.8-mile loop trail navigates the entire park on what used to be the active grounds of Fort Lawton. The architecture of the former fort is interspersed by grassy fields along this relatively flat path.

North Beach Trail, Discovery Park
North Beach Trail, Discovery Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

This Main Loop Trail is scenic on its own, but no visit is complete without trekking the North Beach and South Beach trails. These two beach trails explore the tip of Discovery Park and converge upon the West Point Lighthouse. This sandy expanse and lighthouse have come to symbolize adventure in the city. On a clear day, you can see across the sparkling waters of Puget Sound to the craggy peaks of the Olympic Mountains.

Address: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, Washington

2. Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Ledge

The Rattlesnake Ledge Trail is part of the larger Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area just east of Tiger Mountain State Forest and about 40 minutes from Seattle. The trailhead for this popular hike is near North Bend, and this steep but short hike is excellent for blood pumping fast.

It's two miles and over 1,100 feet of elevation gain to the ledge. There, the views overlooking the Cedar River Watershed are big enough to share with the crowds that tend to gather. On clear days, hikers are also exposed to panoramic views of Mount Si, Mount Washington, and the lakes surrounding the area.

The Rattlesnake Ledge trail sees many users on the weekends and throughout the week. The path up is clearly defined thanks to the consistent foot traffic and stellar trail maintenance. Don't underestimate this stout little hike full of switchbacks. Bring plenty of water and get an earlier start on a hot day.

3. Mailbox Peak

View of Mount Rainier from Mailbox Peak
View of Mount Rainier from Mailbox Peak

Mailbox Peak is near the Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area along the Interstate 90 corridor, 40 miles east of the city. It is a startling, steep hike that has challenged the calf muscles of Seattle citizens and beyond for generations.

Switchbacks are the name of the game for the new Mailbox Peak trail that was recently constructed by volunteers, and 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. This strenuous elevation gain leads many people to question their motives about halfway up.

But get to the top, and the extensive views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding Middle Fork Valley greatly reward the effort. And an actual mailbox at the top of the peak contains a trail register to document the efforts. Bring plenty of water and good traction boots for this challenging hike.

4. Poo-Poo Point

Trail to Poo-Poo Point
Trail to Poo-Poo Point

Poo-Poo Point is an excellent location for day hikers and paragliders on the shoulder of West Tiger Mountain, part of the larger colloquially named Issaquah Alps. That's because the views from the top are worth the steady hike up, and the relatively flat, open space on the summit is perfect for paragliders to catch the air currents.

The trailhead for Poo-Poo Point is 20 miles east of Seattle in the city of Issaquah. Upon arriving, hikers have their choice of two different trails to reach this celebrated summit, either the seven-mile Poo-Poo Point Trail or the four-mile Chirico Trail.

Before automatically opting for the shorter mileage, remember that both trails gain nearly 2,000 feet, making the Chirico Trail extra steep. Each way is worth the effort, and the view atop Poo-Poo Point stretches for miles. A composting toilet and a few benches to catch your breath are available at the summit.

5. Mount Si

View from the top of Mount Si
View from the top of Mount Si

Mount Si is a quintessential hike near Seattle and one of the area's most popular trails. Thousands of hikers test their endurance on this challenging trail, gaining just over 3,000 feet in four miles. This steepness makes Mount Si something to train for or a training tool for bigger mountain hikes like summiting Mount Rainier.

Mount Si is part of the Cascade Range, east of Seattle, with a trailhead near North Bend. It's a 50-mile drive from downtown to the trailhead. Two other prominent trailheads are nearby, Mailbox Peak and Rattlesnake Ledge.

Though steep, the route to Mount Si is well-designed with switchbacks and a defined pathway. This makes the elevation gain the biggest challenge, not the route-finding. During the weekends, the other challenge is the sheer number of people on the trail. Head to Mount Si in the early morning or on weekdays for less crowded conditions.

6. Washington Park Arboretum

Washington Park Arboretum
Washington Park Arboretum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Head to the Washington Park Arboretum for a fun hike within the city limits. The city of Seattle and the University of Washington jointly manage this 230-acre natural space on the shores of Union Bay and Lake Washington. And alongside a diverse collection of native and non-native plants, the Arboretum hosts a winding network of hiking trails.

It's fun to wander the Arboretum without much intention. The main loop trail circles the park for approximately two miles. This paved trail has several branching dirt trails that traverse the park's interior. A few notable species spotted on any route include Japanese maples, rhododendrons, and artistic maples.

When visiting, glance at the map to find Azalea Way at the park's center. Much of the Arboretum was initially built around this less-than-a-mile flat path, and today, it's still a beautiful path, with beautiful blooming shrubs and trees lining both sides.

7. Wallace Falls

Middle Wallace Falls
Middle Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Washington. While the popularity has to do with it being only one hour from Seattle, the rushing natural attraction draws a crowd.

The park is accessible from the small town of Gold Bar on Highway 2, with a couple of different routes available. Expect a long, gravel ride when exploring deep into the park, heading toward Wallace Lake. However, visitors looking for the waterfall hike will want to make the easier drive to the trailhead near the state park's cabins and the private Wallace Falls Inn.

The hike to see Wallace Falls is nearly a six-mile round-trip. The trail passes by three vantage points of the falls and gains over 1,300 feet of elevation. Much of the elevation gain comes at the end of the trail between the middle and upper falls through a series of switchbacks. For those looking to avoid a climb, the view of the lower and middle falls is stunningly beautiful without nearly as much effort.

The state park isn't limited to the 265-foot namesake waterfall. Other natural features include other waterfalls to appreciate, old-growth forests to wander through, and a surrounding environment carved out by the fast-moving water of the Wallace River.

Address: 14503 Wallace Lake Road, Gold Bar, Washington

8. Bluff Trail, Ebey's Landing

Ebey's Landing
Ebey's Landing | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The large estuary west of Seattle, known as Puget Sound, is a defining coastal landscape of the city. The saltwater of Puget Sound, dotted with islands and wildlife, gives Seattle a certain brine that pairs well with adventure. And one of the best spots to start exploring this seafaring landscape is Whidbey Island, accessible from the city with a short drive and ferry ride.

The island is home to several stunning natural and historical points of interest. This is especially true in its southern half, south of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island near Oak Harbor. And Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve encompasses many historical and natural attractions.

Ebey's Landing
Ebey's Landing

Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve is a collection of state, county, and city parks that help share the story of early European settlers on the island. This history proceeds thousands of years of occupancy by native Coast Salish tribes. A great first place to explore is Ebey's Landing State Park, near the historic town of Coupeville.

This 5.6-mile Bluff Trail at Ebey's Landing exposes hikers and visitors of all athletic levels to beautiful views of the surrounding coastal environment. And with less than 300 feet of elevation gain the entire way, it's a popular hike for families coming from Seattle.

Address: 400 Hill Valley Drive, Coupeville, Washington

Official site: http://parks.state.wa.us/507/Fort-Ebey

9. Kendall Katwalk

Kendall Katwalk
Kendall Katwalk | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Snoqualmie Pass is a popular option for anyone who loves adventure in Seattle. That's because just under an hour from Seattle off Interstate 90, and in every season, this stunning mountain pass offers some of the best recreation in the country. This year-round status includes hiking in the summer and some of the best skiing in Washington come winter.

A great example of the summer fun at Snoqualmie Pass is the Kendall Katwalk trail heading north from the pass and into the epitome of Pacific Northwest scenery, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The trail is one of the sections of the Pacific Crest Trail you can do as a day hike, and is mainly tackled as a 10- to 14-mile out-and-back hiking trip.

This hike is not suited for beginner-day hikers. The trail features significant elevation gains, a narrow path among steep cliff sides, and full exposure to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the many features it's named after. Get an early start on this hiking trail, however, and some experience under your feet, and it's breathtaking to see the natural environments on display so close to Seattle.

10. Outer Loop, Point Defiance Park, Tacoma

Owen Beach with Mount Rainier in the background at Point Defiance Park
Owen Beach Promenade with Mount Rainier in the background at Point Defiance Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Point Defiance is a highlight of Tacoma, accessible from Seattle with an hour's drive when the traffic is good. This 760-acre city park juts into Puget Sound on the far north tip of Tacoma, and is a popular ferry pickup and dropoff destination for trips to Vashon Island. Several city attractions dot the park, including the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and over 10 miles of trails wind throughout the seaside parkland.

Main Trails: The three main trails at Point Defiance are the Outer Loop, the Inner Loop, and the Spine Trail that shoots straight up the middle of the peninsula. Other primitive and less-signed trails cross between these main paths, providing a real choose-your-own adventure when exploring. It helps to have a trail map before departing from the park's main entrance.

Be sure to find the shoreline whichever way you head in Point Defiance. It's beautiful views in every direction, and watching the ferries go back and forth from Vashon Island is fun. Take some time to check out the unique Tacoma Chutes and Ladders near the park entrance, featuring plenty of stairwells and metal slides.

11. Soaring Eagle Regional Park

Soaring Eagle Regional Park | Jessie Hey / photo modified
Soaring Eagle Regional Park | Jessie Hey / photo modified

Soaring Eagle Regional Park has 600 acres of wilderness habitat primed for day hiking about 20 miles east of Seattle on Interstate 90. This celebrated natural space is accessible through the city of Sammamish. It welcomes all types of adventures, including day hikes, mountain bike rides, and the occasional trail running event.

The Pipeline Trail is one of the park's main thoroughfares and provides a wide, flat trail that connects to many other trailheads. The park has over 12 miles of trails in total, spiderwebbing throughout the park. Several wildlife species are spotted along the entire trail system, 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 looking for a challenging trail run to parents pushing strollers. The park is also close enough to Seattle to visit after work, offering an easy adventure no matter the day of the week.

Address: 26015 E. Main Drive, Sammamish, Washington

12. Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls
Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls, near Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, is a fairly easy two-mile round-trip trail that delivers a big splash. It's a fun and rewarding hike with a flat grade and a well-maintained trail to the falls. Because of this relative ease of travel, this gushing waterfall hike is a popular trail throughout the year.

With the waterfall's popularity, the parking lot and trail often become crowded during the day. Arriving early at the trailhead is a good way to avoid congestion, and carpooling is always the recommended way to travel. The hike is also considered family-friendly, so expect to see every age of hiker sharing the route.

Franklin Falls is even popular in winter when the falls surge alongside unbelievably huge icicles. Be careful of the slippery conditions if visiting in winter.

13. Crystal Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park

Crystal Lakes
Crystal Lakes

While Mount Rainier National Park is a bit farther from Seattle than other hiking areas, with an early start or fast hiking speed, it's possible to see some incredible scenery on a day trip from the city. And a great option for not spending the night is the Crystal Lakes Trail in the Northeast region of the national park. Seattle commuters can access the trailhead in under two hours.

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 the effort.

The fun doesn't stop at Crystal Lakes – other great hiking trails at Mount Rainier lead hikers to stunning waterfalls, majestic alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping views of Washington's most iconic mountain.

Consider checking out some of Rainier's best campgrounds if you want to really dive into the many treasures of Washington's most famous national park.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

14. Mount Pilchuck Lookout, Mount Pilchuck State Park

Mount Pilchuck Lookout
Mount Pilchuck Lookout

Despite a good two-hour drive from downtown Seattle, the Mount Pilchuck Lookout trail remains one of the most popular adventures from the city. Legions of hikers ascend this mountain every day of the year, partly because of the rewarding views offered in such a relatively short hike. But while it's only 2.7 miles to the top of Mount Pilchuck, the 2,300 feet of elevation gain doesn't necessarily make it an easy hike.

Much of the trail navigates a rough route along the slope of the rocky mountain. This type of trail sometimes burns the legs and requires the hands to pitch in. However, the trail is well-marked thanks to the thousands who make the journey each year. And all the work is well rewarded with big views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker, and the North Cascades at the summit.

The retired fire lookout on top of Mount Pilchuck is a great place to have lunch before heading back down. Day hikers can even turn their trip into an overnight one, with first-come, first-served lodging options at the lookout; just be prepared to have some company if you do.

15. Grand Forest, Bainbridge Island

Grand Forest
Grand Forest

The Grand Forest is a family-friendly place to explore that lives up to its name on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle.

It features three distinct parcels of land: East, West, and North Grand Forest, each with its own acreage and trail system. The East and West regions are 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 has some undulations but is mostly flat. Signposts throughout help navigate the spiderwebbing trail system. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.

The Grand Forest is a popular destination, and visitors should expect to encounter other hikers on the trail. Parking is scarce, with approximately 20 spaces lending access to the most trails in the West region of the forest. Try to park smartly when arriving, taking up only a single space.

The surrounding Bainbridge Island has plenty more to extend a trip. Nature lovers will want to take some time on the island to check out the expansive Bloedel Reserve or the winding shoreline at Fay Bainbridge Park.

Address: 9752 Miller Road NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Read More: Top Things to Do on Bainbridge Island

16. The Enchantments

The Enchantments
The Enchantments | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The aptly named Enchantments of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness are accessible from Seattle with approximately a 180-mile drive east over Stevens Pass. This high-mountain paradise offers some of the most photogenic lakes in the state, and the 20-mile Enchantments Thru-Hike tops the charts as a bucket-list backpacking trip.

The Enchantments support all types of hikes. Those looking for a day hike usually opt for Stuart or Colchuck Lakes to taste the amazement. And the entire access road to the Enchantments, Icicle Road, following the contouring Icicle Creek, lends access to an array of hiking trails to meet everyone's needs.

The four-mile Icicle Gorge Creek Trail is a great family-friendly introduction to the area, located approximately 15 miles down Icicle Creek Road. The route immediately immerses visitors into the lush forest surrounding Icicle Creek and includes two scenic bridge crossings where the breeze above cold water feels great on hot summer days.

The Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth is the main base camp for the Enchantments. Icicle Road is just on the outskirts of town, and the community welcomes tourists. Here, find a lodge house or hotel room to turn a day trip into a weekend adventure.

Read More: Best Hiking Trails near Leavenworth

Seattle, WA - Climate Chart

Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Seattle, WA in °C
8 2 11 3 13 4 15 6 18 9 21 12 24 13 24 14 21 12 16 8 11 4 8 2
Average monthly precipitation totals for Seattle, WA in mm.
133 104 100 70 52 39 24 30 41 82 144 154
Average monthly snowfall totals for Seattle, WA in cm.
7 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 5
Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Seattle, WA in °F
47 36 51 37 55 39 59 43 65 48 70 53 75 56 75 57 70 53 60 46 52 40 47 36
Average monthly precipitation totals for Seattle, WA in inches.
5.2 4.1 3.9 2.8 2.0 1.6 0.9 1.2 1.6 3.2 5.7 6.1
Average monthly snowfall totals for Seattle, WA in inches.
2.9 1.0 0.4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.6 2.1

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