15 Top-Rated Hikes near Seattle, WA
A major 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.
Some of the best hiking trails in Seattle, like the trek on Discovery Loop, are within city limits. Others surround the city and require a short to moderate drive. 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 morning is the best way to avoid crowds on Seattle's best hiking trails.
The size and scope of adventure accessible from Seattle is almost overwhelming. Tie that to the long list of things to do in Seattle, and it's no wonder millions of people visit the city each year. But make no mistake, the real experience of visiting Seattle includes hiking in the surrounding wilderness.
Find your next Emerald City adventure with our list of the best hikes near Seattle.
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1. Discovery Park Loop, Discovery Park
The Discovery Park Loop is one of the most easily accessible trails in Seattle. It's in Discovery Park, on the northwest shoreline of the Magnolia neighborhood, approximately five miles north of downtown. It's Seattle's largest city park, encompassing more than 500 acres.
A 2.8-mile loop trail navigates the entire park on what used to be the active grounds of Fort Lawton. Along this relatively flat path, visitors encounter former architecture of the fort interspersed by grassy fields. This Main Loop Trail is scenic on its own, but no visit is complete without trekking the North Beach and South Beach trail.
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, visitors see across the sparkling waters of Puget Sound to the craggy peaks of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains.
Address: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, Washington
2. 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. The trailhead for this popular hike is near the city of North Bend, and this steep but short hike is great for getting the 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 surrounding lakes of 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
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 and 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 big views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding Middle Fork Valley offer a great reward for 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 difficult hike.
4. Poo-Poo Point
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 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, keep in mind 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 is available at the summit, as well as a few benches to catch your breath.
5. 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 that gains 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 summitting 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 it's 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 the weekdays for less crowded conditions.
6. Washington Park Arboretum
For a fun hike within city limits, head to the Washington Park Arboretum. 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 in approximately two miles. This paved trail has several branching dirt trails that traverse the interior of the park. 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 center of the park. Much of the Arboretum was originally built around this less-than-a-mile flat path, and today, it's still a beautiful path, with beautiful blooming shrubs and trees.
7. 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 also the rushing natural attraction that really draws a crowd.
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
The large estuary west of Seattle known as Puget Sound is a defining coastal landscape of the city. Dotted with islands and wildlife, the saltwater of Puget Sound 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 Seattle with a short drive and ferry ride.
The island is home to several stunning natural and historical points of interest. This is especially true on its southern half, south of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island near Oak Harbor. And Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve encompasses many of the historical and natural attractions.
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
For anyone who loves adventure in Seattle, Snoqualmie Pass is a much-visited option. 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 that heads north from the pass and into the epitome of Pacific Northwest scenery, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The trail is part of the cross-country Pacific Crest Trail and is mostly tackled as a 10- to 14-mile out-and-back hiking trip.
This hike is not suited for beginner day hikers. The trail features big elevation gains, a narrow path among steep cliff sides, and full exposure of 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. Soaring Eagle Regional Park
About 20 miles east of Seattle on Interstate 90, Soaring Eagle Regional Park has 600 acres of wilderness habitat primed for day hiking. This celebrated natural space is accessed 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 main thoroughfares of the park and provides a wide, flat trail that connects to many other trailheads in the area. In total, the park has over 12 miles of trails that spiderweb throughout the park. Several species of wildlife 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 who are 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
11. Franklin Falls
Franklin Falls, near Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, is a fairly simple 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 to the trailhead is a good way to avoid some of this congestion, and carpooling is always the recommended way to go.
Franklin Falls is even popular in the winter months when the falls surge alongside unbelievably huge icicles. Be careful of the slippery conditions if visiting in winter.
12. Crystal Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park
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 big 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 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
13. Mount Pilchuck Lookout, Mount Pilchuck State Park
Despite a respectable two-hour drive from downtown Seattle, the Mount Pilchuck Lookout trail remains one of the most popular from the city. Legions of hikers ascend this mountain every day of the year, in part 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 burns the legs and requires the hands to pitch in at times. The trail is well marked, however, thanks to the thousands that 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 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.
14. Grand Forest, Bainbridge Island
On Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride away from Seattle, the Grand Forest is a family-friendly place to explore that lives up to its name. 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. And to extend a trip, the surrounding Bainbridge Island has plenty more to explore. Nature lovers will want to take some time on the island to check out the Bloedel Reserve.
Address: 9752 Miller Road NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Read More: Top Things to Do on Bainbridge Island
15. The Enchantments
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.
And the Enchantments support all types of hikes. Those looking for a day hike usually opt for Stuart or Colchuck Lakes for a taste of 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 Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth is the main basecamp to the Enchantments. Icicle Road is just on the outskirts of town, and the community is very welcoming to 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
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