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12 Top-Rated Hikes near Seattle, WA

Written by Brad Lane
Jul 27, 2020

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, the Emerald City attracts residents and visitors from around the world. Something that everyone can enjoy not far from the city is easy access to some of the grandest natural environments in the country.

The city is 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 trips and extended adventures. These world-renowned spaces stand alone as reasons to visit Seattle, and when you put them all together, it's no wonder millions of people visit the city each year.

While the city of Seattle has enough attractions to keep you busy, 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. Head outdoors with our list of the top hikes near Seattle.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Discovery Park Loop, Discovery Park

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

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. Special scenic features at Discovery Park include tidal beaches, meadows, forest groves, sand dunes, and plenty of water features.

Spectacular views make Discovery Park a frequent spot for repeat visits. 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. The Discovery Park Loop Trail is a designated National Recreation Trail and takes in all the scenery with very minimal elevation gain (less than 200 feet). The Loop Trail begins near the visitor center at the Park.

Address: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, Washington

2. Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Ledge

Just east of Tiger Mountain State Forest, and about 40 minutes from Seattle, the Rattlesnake Ledge trail is part of the larger Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area. This steep but short hike is great for getting your blood pumping fast. Near the city of North Bend, the Rattlesnake Ledge trail sees many users on the weekends and throughout the week.

The consistent foot traffic and stellar trail maintenance has made the path up clearly defined. It's two miles and over 1,100 feet of elevation gain to the actual ledge, 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.

3. Bluff Trail, Ebey's Landing

Ebey's Landing
Ebey's Landing

Many things to explore are in the unique estuary west of Seattle, known as Puget Sound. 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. Next to the historic town of Coupeville, Ebey's Landing is located on Whidbey Island.

There are many ways to explore the unique wonder of Ebey's Landing, which is also designated as a National Historic Reserve, but the best way to get a full dose of this iconic Puget Sound scenery is to hike along the Bluff Trail. This 5.6-mile round-trip hiking trail exposes hikers and visitors of all athletic levels to beautiful views of the surrounding coastal environment. With less than 300 feet of elevation gain the entire way, the Bluff Trail is 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

4. Wallace Falls

Middle Wallace Falls
Middle Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls is one of the most popular state parks in Washington. While the popularity 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 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.

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.

Address: 14503 Wallace Lake Road, Gold Bar, Washington

5. Kendall Katwalk Editor's Choice

Kendall Katwalk
Kendall Katwalk | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

For anyone who loves adventure in Seattle, Snoqualmie Pass is a great option. 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 for snow sports in the winter or hiking throughout the warmer months, people from Seattle and beyond always flock to this adventure destination.

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.

The trail 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 suited for beginner day hikers. Get an early start on this hiking trail, however, 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, 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, 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.

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.

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

7. Mailbox Peak

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

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. Mailbox Peak provides 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. This strenuous elevation gain leads many people to question their motives about halfway up. But get to the top, and the big views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding Middle Fork Valley offer a great reward for your work. An actual mailbox at the top of the peak contains a trail register to document your efforts.

8. Mount Pilchuck Lookout, Mount Pilchuck State Park

Mount Pilchuck Lookout
Mount Pilchuck Lookout | Jessie Hey / photo modified

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. Day hikers can even turn their trip into an overnight one, with first-come, first-served 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

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. The 12-mile trail system that spiderwebs 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. The Pipeline Trail is one of the main thoroughfares of the park and provides a wide, flat trail that connects to many other trailheads in the area. Close enough to Seattle to visit after work, Soaring Eagle Regional Park offers a great adventure no matter the day of the week.

Address: 26015 E. Main Drive, Sammamish, Washington

10. Poo-Poo Point

Poo-Poo Point
Poo-Poo Point | Peter Stevens / photo modified

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 roundtrips, either the seven-mile Poo-Poo Point Trail or the four-mile Chirico trail. Before you go ahead and take the shorter mileage, keep in mind both trails gain nearly 2,000 feet. Each way is worth the effort, and the view atop Poo-Poo Point stretches for miles. A composting toilet is available at the summit, as well as a few benches to stop and enjoy a picnic.

11. Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls
Franklin Falls

For a fun and rewarding hike, 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. This makes this gushing waterfall hike a popular spot throughout the year.

Franklin Falls is even popular in the winter months, when the falls are still surging alongside unbelievably huge icicles. With easy accessibility, the parking lot and trail often become crowded during the day. Arriving early to the trailhead is a good way to avoid some of this congestion, and carpooling is always the recommended way to go.

12. Grand Forest, Bainbridge Island

Grand Forest
Grand Forest

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. 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 is easily navigated by every member of the family in the Grand Forest, and 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. 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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