UPDATED OCT 3, 2019
One of the best things about living in Seattle is the easy access to nature and the outdoors. 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 the Coal Creek Trail. The 6.0-mile route is relatively flat, and part of a much larger web of trails in the area (including a 1.3-mile extension up to 119th Avenue). Be sure to bring a map so you don’t get lost among the many beautifully forested paths.
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 hike for beginners that offers spectacular views in all directions on a clear day.
The Mount Si trail is among the most popular for Seattleites; if you’re a hiker in this town, you’ve probably done it at least once. The 8-mile trail ascends 3,100 feet to Haystack, where you’ll encounter stunning views of Seattle and the Puget Sound region on a clear day. The trail is mostly shaded 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, but when the trail is clear of snow, you can hike right up to and along the banks of the sapphire blue lake in a moderately challenging day’s hike.
An urban hiking opportunity, Discovery Park is a former military outpost offering over 10 miles of trails through wooded forests, rocky beaches, and open fields. Hop on the 2.8-mile loop trail and find your way up to a great lookout across the Puget Sound. This park is a popular spot for families on a sunny day, but you can still find solitude, enjoy nature, and stretch your legs.
You can reach Mailbox Peak via two different trails (creatively dubbed 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 beginner trail easily accessible from I-90 as it winds through Snoqualmie Pass. The trail has both flat and incline sections, but is often the victim of fallen trees and mudslides, and is currently accessible from the Homestead Valley trailhead. The 3.5-mile trail is stunning: you’ll find two beautiful waterfalls over the course of the 500-foot ascent. The Washington Trails Association does a great job updating their page about Twin Falls, so be sure to consult there before heading out on your adventure.
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 and Hurricane Ridge Road. From there, you’ll have access to the Hurricane Hill trailhead (3.0 miles at a moderate difficulty) as well as a handful of others. It’s a long drive, but worth it when you feel like you’re standing on top of the world and see the sweeping vistas beneath you.
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) on this four-mile trek, 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 reach 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 might suggest, 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.
Face it – some people just don’t like hiking. If that’s you, but you're easily persuaded by beautiful places, give this hike a shot. The finish 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.
An hour and a half north of Seattle, this 5-mile 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 it hasn't erupted since 1982, steam can sometimes be seen coming up 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 features 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 appears from a Seattle ferry or driving down I-5, there is nothing quite 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.
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