You may know Seattle for the space needle, but Seattle just happens to be home to some of the best hikes in the US, and all near the city.
Located in Washington State, Seattle offers much more than just a great city atmosphere. Seattle is also the perfect place to discover some of the best places to visit in Washington State, like the many wonderful hikes located nearby. It is a hikers haven and offers hikes in every range of difficulty, whether you are looking for a challenging trail to get your adrenaline pumping or want to take an easy stroll in nature. You won’t want to miss any of these spectacular things to do in Seattle, Washington State.
Easy Day Hikes Near Seattle
1. Rattlesnake Ledge (Snoqualmie Pass)
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 1,200 feet
Located near North Bend, not far from Seattle, Rattlesnake Ledge offers a short and relatively easy hike. Beginning at Rattlesnake Lake 40 minutes east if Seattle, this gently-sloping trail will give you some great cliffside views over Snoqualmie Pass and the Southern Cascades. The path switchbacks for the first mile or so and then climbs steadily but is never really difficult. The hike ends at a ridge that is known as Rattlesnake Ledge.
You will most probably encounter crowds here on the weekends as it is a popular hike with locals and visitors alike. If you would like, hike a few minutes more to one of the higher ridges where you can escape the crowds and the views are even more spectacular. Just be safe as the drop-offs are steep. On your way back down make a stop at the lake for a refreshing swim before heading back into the city. This is one of the best places to visit near Seattle that offers not just views but one of the more popular hikes.
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Where to Stay Near Rattlesnake Ledge
Top Pick: Elk River Estate (Guest House)
Located in North Bend, the Elk River Estate is about an hour from the trailhead. Although it isn’t close, it offers a wonderful atmosphere and makes for the perfect getaway. It is close to multiple other trails and offers a balcony and garden views.
The property offers guests free parking as well as wifi. The lodge features 1 bedroom and a 1 bathroom as well as a dining area and a fully equipped kitchenette. Enjoy your morning coffee on the patio that offers river views. You are also free to make use of the grill on the property.
2. Twin Falls
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Where to Stay Near Twin Falls
The Salish Lodge & Spa is the setting for the US television favourite Twin Peaks. This wonderful property is located on the foothills of the Cascade Mountains overlooking the Snoqualmie Falls. The rooms are massive and cozy and offer luxury and mountain resort appeal. There is an onsite award-winning spa as well as some exquisite dining options with perfect views. This is the perfect place to wine, dine and enjoy the best things to do in Washington State.
3. Discovery Park
Distance: 0-5 miles
Elevation: 0-350 feet
Just 20 minutes away from Seattle, Discovery Park offers an array of perfect easy hikes. Great for beginners and those looking for a relatively relaxing and flat hiking experience, there is much to choose from in Discovery Park. Discovery Park offers great hikes near Seattle and you can even reach it with public transportation if you aren’t up for driving or renting a car to get there. You can get there via the 19,24, and 33 Metro buses. You will most likely find families enjoying the sun here and weekends tend to get busy.
This urban gem is a former Army Post which offers hikers a glorious mix of forest and meadow and even includes a wonderful beach and a lighthouse just waiting to be explored. If you want to get in other exploration while you are there you can even check out the old officers housing. There are 8 trails in total in Discovery Park, 7 of these are considered to be easy. They are all under 5 miles long. The most popular choice is the 2.8 mile Loop Trail that takes you through the woods and meadows to a bluff overlooking Puget Sound. This trail offers fantastic views of the downtown skyline. If you want to add on a little extra mileage then you can drop down to the beach and lighthouse before returning to the trailhead.
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Where to Stay near Discovery Park
Top Pick: Graduate Seattle
The Graduate Seattle is a pet-friendly hotel that offers spacious guest rooms with a wonderful and unique decor. The property offers guests complimentary bike hire to explore their surroundings. Guests can enjoy complimentary wifi as well as a 24-hour fitness centre. Each room is fitted with a flat-screen TV and an iPod docking station. The rooms offer wonderful views of the city. Guests can enjoy the rooftop bar which overlooks Seattle and the surrounding landscape.
4. Ebey’s Landing: Whidbey Island
Distance: Up to 5.6 Roundtrip
Elevation: 310 feet
To get to Whidbey Island, you have to take a ferry from Clinton, which is an hour or so north of Seattle. The Ebey’s Landing trail is located on the western shore of the island and offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. It is a favourite with locals and one of the easiest and best coastal hikes in Washington State. It is located in a national historic reserve as it is one of the oldest non-Native settlements in Washington. This dog-friendly trail is open throughout the year offering you the perfect opportunity to view it in every season.
The trail passes high along a bluff. This gives you the opportunity to stop and view some of the wonderful wildlife the island has to offer including bald eagles, seals, sea lions and even orca pods during the summer. As you continue on the trail you will come across the original and restored homestead from 1850 where you can take a moment to reflect on the history that this spot has to offer.
As you continue you will find yourself down on a stony and wild beach where you have perfect views of the Olympic Mountains. You will also see many different species of migratory seabirds. From here you can make your way back up to the Bluff Trail and continue the loop until returning to the trailhead. This trail offers you a glimpse into the many attractions and things to do in Washington State. This hike is considered easy to moderate, so expect to exert yourself a little more on this trail than the other easy hikes near Seattle listed here.
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Where to Stay on Whidbey Island
Top Pick: Captain Whidbey Inn
The Captain Whidbey Inn was built in 1907 and offers an old-world charm that guests will love. Located in Coupeville, it is the perfect starting point to explore Fort Ebey State Park. The nonsmoking property features a library and bicycle hire as well as free wifi. There are an onsite restaurant and bar which is open daily.
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Moderate Day Hikes Near Seattle
1. Mt. Pilchuck
Distance: 5.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 2,300 feet
Located just over an hour from Seattle, this is one of the best one-day summit hikes near the city. Located on the Mountain Loop Highway, the hike offers the best panoramic views in Washington. This is considered to be a moderate hike, but some have rated it as difficult because of the steep elevation that you will encounter on this relatively short hike. The elevation is completely worth it though as you rise with views of the North Cascades and curling around the summits for breathtaking views which include the Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound and Mt. Rainer.
Although this trail is very popular, you won’t find big crowds as it is more difficult to get to than some of the other hikes mentioned. You may not get too many crowds, but you won’t be hiking in solitude either. The climb takes you up to a restored fire lookout tower and on the way, you will pass through an old forest and big boulder fields which make the hike that much more exciting. This trail is best when visited between June and October, but it offers a great opportunity for snowshoeing during the winter.
Make sure to dress accordingly for this hike as you are likely to come across plenty of mud and snow, even in mid-summer. You should wear good hiking shoes to ensure that you have traction for the rocky bits, including the boulder fields. The last few miles of the trail are comprised of crushed stone with many potholes in between so make sure to tread carefully.
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Where to Stay Near Mt. Pilchuck
Top Pick: Treehouse Place at Deer Ridge
Located in Snohomish, the Treehouse Place at Deer Ridge makes for a great retreat while exploring the area, including Mount Pilchuck. The property offers guests a terrace, garden and barbecue facilities. During the winter you have use of the ski storage. Parking is available for an extra charge. Each of the guest rooms has a balcony with great garden views. Some rooms are available with a seating area. The property also offers bike rentals if you are looking to explore the area in a different way.
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2. Poo Poo Point
Distance: 3.8 to 7.2 miles
Elevation: 1,760 to 1,858 feet
Located near Issaquah on the west side of Tiger Mountain, Poo Poo Point is favoured by the locals for hiking and paragliding. Legend has it that it gets its name from the sound of the steam engines whistle that the loggers could hear as they worked. It surely is a catchy name that you won’t forget in a hurry. There are two trails to choose from; the Chirco Trail which is 1.9 miles each way and the High School Trail which is longer but less of a climb.
Each of the trails is steep, so be ready to make your legs work a bit. But don’t worry, you will be rewarded at the top with breathtaking views of Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish and Mount Rainier. The Chirco Trail is mostly used by paragliders getting up to the perfect launch spot. Poo Poo Point is one of the most popular paragliding launch spots in Washington and whether you decide to stop for a snack and enjoy watching them or take the “easy” way down, you won’t want to miss taking it all in.
This trail is accessible all year round and you may even spot some wildlife, including some rare birds. If you love hiking with your dog, bring them with, as long as they are leashed. Parking is readily available and there is public transport from Seattle. Just be aware that you may have to walk a bit to get to the trailhead with this option. This is one of the best moderate hikes near Seattle. Try doing this hike on a clear day to get the best views.
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Where to Stay near Poo Poo Point
Located in Issaquah, the Springhill Suites offer simple yet comfortable accommodation close to Poo Poo Point. It is also well located to explore the Squack Mountain State Park Natural Area. The hotel offers daily breakfast, a fitness centre and an indoor pool which is free for guests to use.
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3. Maple Pass Loop (North Cascades)
Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation: Up to 6,995 feet
This is probably the furthest day hike from Seattle. You would have to make an early start for this hike as it is located about 3 hours from Seattle. It may not be near, but this is one of those hikes that are worth driving a little longer to reach. Besides being a great hike, the drive is also incredibly scenic which is a bonus. You will definitely not be disappointed when you see the views that await you. The hike is located near North Cascades and is considered one of the best places to visit in Washington State. You will find the Maple Pass Loop just off the North Cascades Highway and it starts at the Rainy Pass trailhead.
This relatively short hike will have you traversing through alpine meadows, past pristine lakes and will give you views of the high peaks of the North Cascades National Park. The trail is really versatile and you can hike the loop from either side, it’s all whether you prefer starting on the uphill or ending on it. Personally I think the views are great either way, but most people prefer to take this trail counterclockwise.
The best time to hit this trail is between July and October since its warmer. You are welcome to bring along your dog, just keep them on a leash on the trail. There is an option to add on 2 miles and you’ll get to see more of the lakes, but if you are heading back to Seattle make sure that you have enough time.
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Where to Stay near Maple Pass Loop
Top Pick: Mountain Shadow Duplex
The Mountain Shadow Duplex offers accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen. The property has free wifi as well as a seating area with a sofa and a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy the use of a smart TV as well as a terrace with garden views and a seasonal barbecue.
4. Snow Lake
Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation: 1,670 feet
This trail lives up to its name. Located near Snoqualmie Pass, this is one of the coolest, forgive the pun, hikes near Seattle. This trail is usually one of the last to be free of snow in Washington State, making it one of the more popular places to visit. The trailhead is located in the Alpental ski area parking lot and is easily accessible. The trail is usually closed during mid-winter as the area has been known to experience avalanches, but during the warmer months, you can hike up to the top and enjoy the banks of the sapphire blue lake. The most popular time to hike this trail is between July and September.
You will probably still find snow at the top of the trail in early summer, and if you’re hiking with kids they will love the chance to throw around a few snowballs before heading down again. Make sure to pay attention to the signs as there are some places where you may need to branch off. At the top, you have an option to continue on the trail for a few miles or you can turn back down. Make sure to check with the park page when planning your hike, especially outside of the popular months.
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Where to Stay near Snow Lake
Top Pick: Mother in Law Suite
Located in North Bend, the Mother in Law Suite offers a terrace and free wifi. The property is located just a few minutes from Snoqualmie and offers private parking. This vacation home offers 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, dining area and a fully equipped kitchen. Guests can enjoy the onsite hot tub as well as a patio with garden views.
Difficult Day Hikes Near Seattle
1. Mount Si
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 3,150 feet
Mount Si is probably the most popular and well-known hike near Seattle. But this also means that it is one of the busiest hikes, even if it is pretty difficult. People come from far and wide to try out this trail and its no wonder, besides offering amazing views this hike is just 45 minutes from Seattle and really easy to access. The trail is best hiked between April and November. This is one hike, ask any Seattle resident, that you will find plenty of information on. Which makes planning a day trip that much easier, and you’ll know exactly what to expect. After all, Mount Si attracts up to 100 000 visitors a year.
Make sure that you are fit enough for this one. 8 miles roundtrip may seem like little compared to some of the other hikes in the area, but you’ll be trudging an elevation gain of around 3,150 feet in the first 4 miles. Once you’ve made it past the steep switchbacks though you will be rightly rewarded with views of Mount Rainier, the Seattle skyline, dozens of other Cascade peaks and the Olympic range if its a clear day. If you’re looking to avoid some of the crowds, then make your way up in late fall.
The trail is mostly shaded with trees, but a portion of the trail can be a little slippery in wet weather so make sure to wear good hiking footwear. The trail is dog friendly as long as you keep them on a leash. Just make sure they are up for the climb. There have been reports of bear spottings on the trail, but this isn’t a common occurrence. Just in case, when hiking in bear country you should always make sure to have bear spray in your day pack. The hike ends at a rocky surface known as the Haystack, which you will have to climb/scramble to reach the top. Make sure that you are ready for this part as it can get pretty slippery.
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Where to stay near Mount Si
Top Pick: Hampton Inn & Suites Snoqualmie
Make your trip to Mount Si a weekend getaway by staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Snoqualmie. This property offers guests air-conditioned rooms as well as an indoor pool and fitness centre. There is wifi throughout the property and guests can enjoy a daily American and buffet breakfast.
2. Mailbox Peak
Distance: 9.6 miles
Elevation: 4,000 feet
Located near North Bend, this is another firm Seattle favourite. This is one of the more strenuous hikes near Seattle, more difficult than Mount Si, so be prepared. If you’re wondering why its called Mailbox Peak, it gets its name from a mailbox that sits at the top which was carried there by an ambitious mail carrier during the 1960s. If you are looking for memorable places to visit in Washington State, add this one to the list. There are 2 trails which you can choose from here. The old trail is slightly shorter, but it is also much steeper and more difficult to get up. You’ll be climbing around 4,000 feet in just 3 miles. The new trail which was opened in 2014 is longer but much safer in sections and gives you the opportunity to spread out your elevation so that it is much easier.
Whichever trail you decide to choose, you’ll still make you way up to a wonderful 360-view of the central Cascades. Not to mention the perfect photo opportunity with the mailbox at the peak. The best time to hike this trail is from May until October and the trail is dog friendly. But again, please make sure your furry friend is ready for the climb. A large portion of the trail is covered but once you reach the boulder field you will be exposed. It is important to make sure you have adequate sun protection here. You can take a moment to appreciate this fun hike as well as the wildflowers that are commonly found here. Some hikers have been known to add stickers and stuffed animals to the mailbox, so bring a souvenir with to leave behind if you’d like. Just make it an eco-friendly one!
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Where to Stay near Mailbox Peak
Top Pick: Salish Lodge & Spa
This is the perfect spot to lay your bones after a difficult hike up Mailbox Peak. Make this the perfect weekend with a stay at this exquisite lodge. It’s so good I just had to mention it twice.
3. Mount Dickerman
Distance: 8.6 miles roundtrip
Mount Dickerman can be found in the North Cascades along the Mountain Loop Highway. This hike is a little further away from Seattle, just about one and a half hours driving. But the views at the top are well worth the distance. This is not an easy trail so make sure to pace yourself appropriately.
It is more technical then any of the other hikes on this list, but if you’re visiting Washington State or just want to get in one of the best hikes near Seattle, this is the place to go. This trail is best hiked between July and October, but the experienced hiker may venture a portion of the trail before July. Just make sure to have the right equipment as you are likely to encounter snow and ice. There are times that the trail or portion of it may encounter closures, so make sure to check before heading out.
The elevation gain is sure to give your muscles a little welcome burn, but this big climb gives you plenty of opportunities to wander through a unique terrain. You will pass through old-growth forests, traverse cliffs and wander through the alpine meadow. There are some sheer cliffs, so take care on the trail. On a clear day, you’ll have awesome views of the Monte Cristo area and all of the Cascades. And if you love wildlife, then make sure to look out for some spectacular birds as this is a popular bird-watching area too.
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Where to stay near Mount Dickerman
Top Pick: Best Western Sky Valley Inn
Located in Monroe, the Best Western Sky Valley Inn offers a seasonal pool and hot tub. Free Wifi is available in all guest rooms and each room is equipped with a microwave, compact fridge and tea and coffee facilities. The rooms offer basic comforts and are air-conditioned.
How to Get Around Washington State
There are a lot more hikes to choose from and once you’ve gotten used to the popular hikes it is great to explore more of the area. Needless to say that Washington State offers the outdoorsman (and woman) bountiful things to do.
Many of the trails can be accessed by public transport, but you may have to spend some time waiting around which inevitably takes time away from your hiking experience. If you do not have your own car then I highly recommend renting one, especially for trails that may be out of the way.
Tips for Day Hiking near Seattle
- For more information on the trails and the different passes that you need you can check out the Washington Trails Association website.
- If you are looking for an app that gives you great maps of the hikes then check out AllTrails. You can find the app for Android and Apple.
- Make sure to pack all your necessities before heading out on to any trail. You should be prepared according to the season and the difficulty and length of the trail.
- You should always make sure you have the right hiking footwear. This is especially true for more difficult trails.
- Always be safe and environmentally conscious when hiking and most of all have fun!
- If you are looking for more hiking inspiration near Seattle, check out these hikes in Mount Rainier National Park.