Looking to spend some time in the great outdoors?
An invigorating hike can leave you feeling so rejuvenated, and, if you happen to live in Seattle, there are so many trails and routes available to you. Whether you’re looking for a short but brisk walk, or a full day out in nature, here are the 12 best hikes in and around Seattle.
Rattlesnake Ledge (4 miles)
For a gently-sloping trail that offers up panoramic cliffside views, Rattlesnake Ledge is the hike for you. With its trailhead located just 40 minutes east of Seattle, this path begins at Rattlesnake Ledge, before winding its way through old growth forest.
The path ends at Rattlesnake Ledge itself – a large, natural rocky viewing platform that points east, towards the Cascades.
With most people choosing to stick to the lower ledge on this hike, it would be well worth making your way up to the middle or upper ledge. Not only will you have fewer crowds to deal with, but the views from up here are even more spectacular.
Wallace Falls (5.6 miles)
There are around 12 miles of hiking trails to be found in the Wallace Falls State Park, with the main Wallace Falls trail consisting of a relatively easy walk that takes you along the Wallace River. This is actually one of the most popular hikes in the state, mainly due to the three large waterfalls the trail passes by.
The first fall is encountered after just two miles of walking, with the second being another half mile on. The third and highest tier requires a few steep switchbacks to be traversed, but this is where you will be rewarded with the ultimate view.
The falls are definitely impressive, but don’t be tempted to stray past the guard rails, since the river banks can sometimes be pretty dangerous.
Need more of a challenge?
Add an extra 3.4 miles onto your hike by taking the side trail that leads to the peaceful Wallace Lake.
Mount Si (8 miles)
Mount Si is probably one of the most well-known Seattle hikes, and even features in the opening credits of television show Twin Peaks. However, as popular as it may be, this isn’t an easy hike – in just four miles, you will gain 3,150 feet, making certain parts of this trail quite challenging.
Still, the effort is worthwhile once you reach the peak – on a clear day, you will be able to see well into the distance, with views of Seattle, the Puget Sound region, and dozens of other Cascade peaks.
Since most of this trail is shaded by large trees, it’s a fantastic hike no matter the season. However, care needs to be taken near the peak after a rainfall, since the trail can get pretty slippery.
Mount Ellinor Lower Trailhead (6.2 miles)
If you love the experience that Mount Si offers, but aren’t quite as fond of the crowds of people that can sometimes gather here, then Mount Ellinor is the answer. There are two trailheads to choose from; the lower and upper. Since the upper begins with quite an immediate steep climb, the lower trailhead is often the preferred option, starting with an easier, gradual ascent.
The trail climbs its way through old growth, taking you to multiple ridgeline openings that make for the perfect viewpoints. From here, you will be able to see out across Lake Cushman, and way over to the southeast.
Once you reach the summit, the 360 degree views will take a while to sink in, so take your time enjoying them. If you are lucky, you may come across some of the local mountain goats, who favor this trail when they are in search of salt.
For even more of a workout, you could trace your steps back to where the upper and lower trails meet, and then spend some time exploring the upper trailhead.
Loop Trail, Discovery Park (2.8 miles)
Discovery Park is home to 12 miles of hiking trails, but the Loop Trail is a true gem. The trail was rebuilt in 2014, meaning that it is still in very good condition. It makes its way through meadows and woods, taking you to the highest point in Discovery Park. From here, you will be greeted with a panoramic view of the Puget Sound and the downtown skyline.
In addition to the view, another popular feature of this trail is its opportunities for wildlife sightings. As you pass by the waters, keep an eye out for harbor seals and killer whales, the latter being more rare but extremely thrilling.
If you are taking this trail in the late summer, treat yourself to a few of the wild blackberry brambles that line sections of the path. They make for a sweet and juicy walking snack, making the hike even more enjoyable.
If you time your visit right, an off-trail expedition to the West Point Lighthouse at sunset is always a beauty. The beach here is worth exploring too – this is the beach where two of the park’s trails meet.
Coal Creek Trail (6 miles)
The Coal Creek Trail is simply exquisite, so long as you manage to stay on-track. This trail is part of a much larger trail network in the foothills of the Cascade Range, making a good map a must. However, this also makes it easy to extend your walk if you wish, with the 1.3 mile side trail leading to 119th Avenue being especially popular.
With this trail being relatively flat most of the way, it makes for an enjoyable day trip, giving you the opportunity to really take in the colorful wildflowers, waving ferns and mossy boulders.
The trail gets its name from the coal mining that used to take place in this area. You will be able to see remnants of this as you make your way along the path – the looming maple and cedar trees cluster around old mine shafts from the late 1800s. Although most of this has now been reforested, there are still snippets of the past dotted throughout the trail to take you back in time.
Poo-Poo Point (7.4 miles)
Located on Tiger Mountain, the Poo-Poo Point trail provides plenty of giggles with its name, but was actually named after the whistling sound that loggers working on the mountain could hear when a steam train was going by.
If you are into parasailing, then you’ve probably already heard of Poo-Poo Point, with this being a popular parasailing launching spot.
However, even if you aren’t taken by the idea of jumping off a tall mountain, the trail still offers such a rewarding experience, while enabling you to keep both feet on the ground!
The trail ascends just under 2000 feet, and there are several sections here that are pretty steep. The climb is worth it once you reach the top, with views of Lake Sammamish and Mount Rainier to enjoy.
Green River Trail (19 miles)
While there are some breathtaking hiking trails just outside of Seattle, you sometimes need something a little more urban. This is where the Green River Trail comes in – almost 20 miles of paved pathway that runs alongside the river in one of the most industrial parts of South Seattle.
This is actually one of the longest contiguous trails in the region, and it even has the potential to expand in the future, with plans proposed to extend it by another 10 miles.
The Green River Trail is flat and easy, taking you back and forth across Seattle’s waterways, and giving you a peak into the city’s various neighborhoods and green belts. Side hikes are easy – step off the trail to explore any intriguing city streets you see, or spend some time strolling around one of the many city parks.
Snow Lake (7.2 miles)
Snow Lake is the most-visited lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and it is easy to see why. Not only is this spot easy to access, but the sapphire-blue lake is an amazing sight, no matter the time of year.
The ascent is gradual for most of the way, with just a couple of tougher sections. The views continue to improve as you make your way along, culminating in a jaw-dropping panorama of the sheer, polished rocks of Chair Peak, complete with its waterfall ribbons and sheltered coves.
If you would like to push yourself even more, there are a number of side trails that you can take from here. Whether you want to explore the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley or more mountain lakes, you will come across numerous spur trails that offer even more adventures.
Twin Falls (3.6 miles)
If you’re looking for a hike that isn’t too strenuous, but still offers a rewarding experience, then Twin Falls is it. This is a relatively flat trail that only has a few incline sections, making it a great one for beginners, as well as for families.
Halfway through your hike, at the 1.3 mile mark, will be the highlight of your day. This is where you will find two gorgeous waterfalls that tumble down a 500 foot ascent. There is a bridge that runs across the pools underneath the falls, making for the perfect photo opportunity.
The one downside to Twin Falls is that the trail is often susceptible to mudslides and fallen trees. Fortunately, the Washington Trails Association keeps their Twin Falls page up-to-date with the latest conditions.
Mailbox Peak (9.4 miles)
Mailbox Peak is a popular spot with mountaineers who are training to climb Mount Rainier, so this should give you some idea of how challenging the trail is. This thigh-burning walk starts to climb pretty early on, with switchback after switchback to traverse.
However, once you reach the top, you will be looking out over many of the other peaks in the area, as well as the magnificent Mount Rainier in front of you.
Many hikers wonder about the trail’s unusual name, until they reach the peak. This is where you will find the mountain’s namesake mailbox, which was brought here by an over-ambitious mail carrier in the 60’s. The mailbox is decorated with different trinkets and stickers from hikers who have reached this point in the past, so feel free to add on your own little contribution.
Evans Creek Preserve (4.2 miles)
The Evans Creek Preserve is a farmstead-turned-nature preserve that sprawls out for 179 acres. The volunteer-built trail system here has been steadily expanding in recent years, to the point where it now offers an incredible hike.
One of the highlights of this trail is the way in which it takes you through so many different habitats. From wetlands to meadows to forests, the rich and diverse ecosystems found here mean that you will also encounter a variety of different wildlife species.
There are a number of animals that call this nature preserve home, including deer, hawks, beavers, and black bears. The trail is especially popular in the mornings, when birdwatchers flock to the preserve to make the most of its four bird-viewing platforms.
Of course, with the abundance in wildlife comes the danger posed by some creatures, such as the black bear. If you walk this trail, you may want to consider bringing some pepper spray with you, and making plenty of noise as you go along.
The Seattle area is home to some truly legendary trails, meaning that locals never need to go far to experience the intense beauty of mother nature. Whether you’re planning a leisurely Sunday walk with your family, or want to add some diversity to your fitness regime, these 12 hikes will have you covered.