Ask any Seattleite and they’ll agree: one of the things we love most about living here is the easy access to nature and the outdoors. We even have the fantastic Washington Trails Association whose website is the ultimate resource for every hiker. With the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges close on either side of our city, it’s not hard to find great hiking options for a sunny day. And with this list, you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect spot for your next hike.
In the foothills leading into the Cascade Range, there are some incredible day hike options, including Coal Creek Trail. The 6.0-mile route is relatively flat (and includes a 1.3-mile extension up to 119th Avenue), and part of a much larger web of trails in the area. Be sure to bring a map so you don’t get lost among all the beautiful forested hiking options.
Green Lake is an excellent example of one of Seattle’s many “urban hiking trails,” and its popularity is evident from the minute you arrive. The 3.0-mile loop is frequented by Seattleites of all walks of life, as well as runners, bikers, roller-bladers, and more. It’s not going to get your heart rate up with crazy ascents or give you solitude overlooking the city, but it’s an excellent trail for a day when you need outdoors time and don’t want to leave Seattle.
Most people know Poo Poo Point for the hilarious name (it is). It also happens to be a great launching ground for parasailing fans. But if you’re not into the idea of throwing yourself off a mountainside, it makes for an excellent day hike. Measuring a respectable 7.2 miles with just under 2000 feet of ascent, it’s a good beginner hike that offers spectacular views in all directions on a clear day.
The Mount Si trail is one of the most popular for Seattleites; if you’re a hiker in this town, you’ve probably done it at least once. The 8.0-mile trail ascends 3,100 feet to Haystack, where you’ll have stunning views of the Seattle and Puget Sound region on a clear day. The trail is mostly covered by trees, making it a good year-round option, but to reach the top you’ll have to be careful (slippery when wet!).
This spot is one of a handful of relatively easy-to-access Cascade Mountain alpine lakes that draw hikers from around the world. The 7.2-mile hike is not open during the winter due to avalanche risks on both sides of the mountain that you ascend and descend to reach the lake, but when the trail is clear of snow, you can hike right to and along the banks of this sapphire blue lake in a moderately challenging day’s hike.
Many people loath the crowds on Mount Si on a sunny day, and opt to hike the 13.8-mile trail on Mt. Teneriffe instead. You’ll get great views of Mount Rainier and a waterfall, plus loads more peace and quiet during this ambitious day hike.
Another urban hiking opportunity, Discovery Park offers over 10 miles of trails through wooded forest, rocky beach, and open fields. It’s a popular spot for families on a sunny day, but you can still find solitude to enjoy nature and stretch your legs.
You can reach Mailbox Peak via two different trails (creatively called the “Old” and “New” trails), but anyone who has been up there will tell you the Old (5.2-mile) trail is shorter but more challenging — and also gives you a much greater sense of accomplishment when you finish the ascent. That said, the 9.4-mile new trail is much safer, and more frequently used. Sounds like the perfect excuse to hike it twice and compare the two!
The route is an excellent starter trail easily reached from I-90 as it winds through Snoqualmie Pass… but it’s often closed. The trail has both flat and incline sections, but has lately been the victim of many fallen trees and mudslides, and is currently accessible from the Homestead Valley trailhead, rather than the usual one. That said, the 3.5-mile trail is stunning when you can get time to hike it: you’ll see two beautiful waterfalls over the course of the 500-foot ascent. Washington Trails Association does a great job updating their page about Twin Falls, so be sure to consult that before heading out to hike.
Getting out to hike the trails accessible from Hurricane Ridge will take more than a day: board the Bremerton or Bainbridge Island ferries from Seattle, then drive to Port Angeles for access to Hurricane Ridge Road. From there, you’ll have access to the Hurricane Hill trailhead (3.0 miles, moderate effort) as well as a handful of others. It’s a long drive, but worth it once you feel like you’re standing on top of the world and see the sweeping vistas.
With a gorgeous, glacier-fed lake halfway through the hike, this trail’s strenuous incline is well worth the sweat. Huckleberry bushes line the trail, providing the perfect snack if you forgot your own. And when you finally reach the end, you’ll find yourself at Virgin Lake, a body of water completely made up of melting snow from the mountains and rainfall. Salamanders call this area home, so keep your eyes peeled for the quick little fellas.
Nestled in the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll drive along the crystal clear waters of Lake Cushman to reach Staircase Rapids. There’s virtually no ascent (only 150 feet) to this four-mile trail, making it a great day hike for beginners looking to increase distance without killing your knees. And major bonus: it’s filled with beautiful, moss-covered boulders, a trickling turquoise creek, and a rad, Instagram-worthy suspension bridge.
You’ll have to go over the river and through the woods to get to the top of this hike. Several small lakes are along the way, making it a perfect place to take a break and cool off. As the name indicates, the top is quite bare due to being a former fire lookout. Much of the mountain lacks trees, so bring your Mariners hat and literally the biggest water bottle you have to protect yourself from the sun and keep hydrated. Note: due to horrendous summer wildfires nearby, this trail is currently closed. Crossing our fingers it opens back up soon.
Face it – some people just don’t like hiking. If that’s you, but you are easily persuaded by beautiful places, give this hike a shot. The end rewards you with not one, but three different tiers of a waterfall. Trust us – you’ll want to stop by each one to get the ultimate Instagram selfie.
If lacing up your hiking boots to go stomp in the mud sounds like fun, you’ll probably like this hike. The area gets up to 200 inches of rain each year, so making splashes in the mud as you walk by is normal. Though, it only gains 200 feet of elevation, so if you’re a “lazy hiker” this is your jam.
Just outside Granite Falls is a beautiful, minimal ascent hike through forest and canyon to the old Lime Kiln hidden among the moss and trees. The 7.0-mile trail is a reasonable distance for a day hike, and a great opportunity to learn the history of the region as you explore the nature around you.
An hour and a half north of Seattle, this hike off Chuckanut Drive is more than worth it. The trail entrance is so small that if you blink you’ll miss it, but the rest is well-marked. The name of this hike won’t really make sense until you get to the top, where you’ll be greeted with views of oysters in the bay. Fitt Tip: You can wave hello to your Canadian neighbors on a clear day.
If you’ve ever wanted to hike on a volcano, now’s your chance. While the last eruption hasn’t been since 1982, steam can sometimes be seen coming from the crater and small earthquakes rock the surrounding area. Beautiful pastel wildflowers line the path going up, and you’ll pass many trees that are still trying to regrow from the last time it blew its top. And with over 200 miles of trails to explore, you’re not going to get bored.
Beginning at the Snoqualmie PCT trailhead, Kendall Katwalk is the perfect early summer PNW hike — the path cuts through ancient evergreens, at least 16 types of wildflowers, huge boulders perfect for an afternoon snack perch, and feature sweeping views of the Cascades (including the glorious Mount Rainier). Extending over 12 miles, it’s an exhausting trail, but beyond worth it. In fact, if you feel up for it, continue on for another mile and you’ll encounter a few peaceful lakes to rest beside.
You didn’t think we’d leave Mount Rainier off the list, did you? As gorgeous as this PNW staple is from a Seattle ferry or driving down I-5, there is nothing like being so close to the mountain you can touch it. There are tons hikes to tackle if you’re looking to get up close and personal, but our favorites are easily the Sunrise Rim Trail and the Paradise Park Skyline Trail Loop. If you haven’t been to Mount Rainier yet, move one of these hikes to the top of your list stat.