The 26 Best Hikes near Seattle: A Complete Hiking Guide

Seattle is a phenomenal urban center buzzing with live music, funky art galleries, and mouthwatering cafes and restaurants. What sets it apart from so many other major cities, though, is the fact that Seattle is surrounded by natural abundance from all angles. Mountain views, lakeside parks perfect for sunning, paddling, and swimming, botanical gardens, and urban trails. And that’s just within the city limits!

Adventure anywhere from half an hour to about an hour and a half outside the Emerald City and you’ll find spectacular trails, both short and long, that make for a perfect city break and escape into nature. The opportunities for hiking near Seattle are expansive and exciting. 

I’m pretty fortunate to call Seattle home. I was born in the area and was frequently taken on hikes as a young kid with my family. This immersion into nature from a young age instilled in me a deep curiosity and love for the Pacific Northwest.

As a young adult, I have lived in Seattle on and off for many years and dedicated many of my weekends and weekdays to exploring the nearby wilderness and best hikes near Seattle. 

Eager to get hiking? In this guide, I’ll take you through my favorite Seattle hikes, all within about a 90-minute drive (one-way)—with the exception of a couple of Mount Rainier hikes because, well, they’re just too spectacular not to include. 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel and vacation rental links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would absolutely never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

The Best Time to Go Hiking Around Seattle

The best hikes in Seattle are quite seasonal. Many of the trails are only accessible during summer and fall—early July through mid-October. There is a hike for every season, though, with even a few open during spring and winter to keep you outside and exploring year-round. 

  • Summer: Unquestionably, summer is the best (and most popular) time to hike in and around Seattle. By the end of June or the start of July, the trails will be clear of snow and ready for hiking season. Days will be mostly warm with blue skies and extended sunlight until around 9pm. The one downside? You’ll be competing for space on the trails with pretty much everyone else in the region. Hike mid-week or early mornings, if your schedule allows it, for quieter trails. 

  • Fall: Early September through mid-October is the runner up for the most optimal hiking season in Seattle. The days will still be fairly long. Light rain will be mixed in with sunny skies and temperatures will be crisp and fresh. All trails will still be accessible and by late September, many of the trees and bushes will transform into earthen shades of red, gold, and orange. 

  • Winter: Hiking is rather limited in Seattle during the winter months. Urban trails will still be accessible in the city and some of the lower elevation hikes will remain open, as long as roads to access the trailheads remain snow-free. However, keep in mind that daylight is limited, views are often obstructed by gray, overcast skies, and the weather can be damp and chilly. Always check for road and trail conditions, as well as avalanche warnings, during the winter. 

  • Spring: While much of the flora and fauna in the parks and mountains around Seattle will slowly start to awaken during spring, hiking is still limited. Many of the roads and trails are still inaccessible due to snow. Temperatures are unpredictable and there can be heavy rainfall. The one perk? Waterfalls are at their most spectacular during spring, as they’re roaring with fresh snowmelt. 

Things to Know About Hiking Near Seattle

Before you set out on your hiking adventures, here are a few tips to ensure your excursion goes smoothly. 

Geography: Seattle is surrounded by forest and mountains from almost every direction. You can find a few hikes within the city if you’re looking for a quick dose of nature without traveling far. The real draw, though, are the hikes within a short proximity of Seattle. The Emerald City sits in an ideal position to access the trails in the Cascades situated to the southeast, east, and northeast of the city. 

Transportation: You’ll need a car to reach the majority of the hikes not within city limits, which means most of them. Slowly but surely, the city has plans to make trails more accessible. Trailhead Direct is a pilot shuttle service that currently has limited pick-ups in Capitol Hill and drop-offs at Mount Teneriffe, Mount Si, and Little Si on the weekends and public holidays. 

Parking Passes: Many, though not all, of the trails require a parking pass. The required pass varies by trail and includes: Discover Pass (to access Washington State Parks), Northwest Forest Pass (to access national forests in Washington and Oregon), and America the Beautiful (to access US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands). You can choose between day and annual passes, and opt to pay for individual national parks. However, if you plan to visit more than once or more than one national park in a year, the annual passes are much more cost effective. 

Dogs: Dogs are allowed to join you on hikes in most national forest and state park lands, as long as they’re on a leash. However, dogs are not allowed on trails in national parks. This is to help protect the vulnerable flora and fauna in the parks. 

Seasonal Information:

  • Winter: Many of the roads through national parks and to access trails are closed during the winter. In the mountains, this means after the first snowfall, which is typically late October or early November. Road closures can be monitored online to keep you updated on accessibility. 

  • Summer: As idyllic as the summer sun is, this season comes with its imperfections as well. Bugs love to swarm around lakes in the summer months, which detracts from the experience– come prepared! Trailheads can also get incredibly busy on weekend mornings during the summer. Plan to come early (as in, 6-7am early), or hike during the week if you have the option. 

The Best Hikes near Seattle: 26 Awesome Seattle Hikes to Tackle ASAP 

Ready to get outside and start exploring? Here are our favorite day hikes near Seattle, all within about a 90-minute drive of the city (with the exception of the Rainier hikes, which are a little bit further away).

The hikes are ordered by distance from Seattle, starting with the hikes in Seattle and moving outward from there.

Happy hiking! 

The Discovery Park Loop

  • Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 140 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Pass Required? None
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 6 miles; 15 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Discovery Park Loop Trailhead

Discovery Park Loop is a designated National Recreation Trail cutting through Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. 

This mostly flat loop is just shy of three miles and passes through forest and open meadows, with both mountain and ocean views. 

The trail can be reached from West Government Way near the Visitor Center (here on Google Maps), and you can hike the loop in either direction, though heading left once you’ve descended the stairs is the more popular route choice. 

Along the way, engage your senses as you listen for woodpeckers, walk through meadows of blossoming salmon berries and wild currants, and search for snowy owls and hawks above the trees. Along the shore, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and great blue herons on the hunt for fish. 

As you continue along, the Olympic Mountains will come into view across the Puget Sound. From viewpoints over bluffs, to a trail down to South Beach and the West Point Lighthouse, the hike continues to delight. 

Discovery Park Loop may be an easy hike, but it is abundant in diverse flora and fauna that will keep you engaged every step of the way. 

The Seward Park Loop 

  • Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: None 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Pass Required? None
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 6 miles; 20 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Seward Park 

The perfect solution for city dwellers who are craving nature but don’t have the time to head to the mountains. 

Seward Park is located in the south Seattle neighborhood by the same name. The loop wraps around Bailey Peninsula with views over Lake Washington. Your adventure begins from Seward Park Audubon Center. 

From the playground, follow the walking and biking trail that hugs the shoreline for nearly 2.5 miles. Stop and enjoy the view from one of the many benches along the way. And be sure to stay on the path to avoid any unwanted poison ivy encounters! 

Poo Poo Point  

  • Length: 7.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,750 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pass Required? None
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 25 miles; 45 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Poo Poo Point Trailhead (Chirico Trail); High School Trailhead

Situated on West Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, the hike to Poo Poo Point is a perfect way to breathe in fresh mountain air without having to venture too far from Seattle. 

While there are technically three routes to reach Poo Poo Point, there are two main ones. The other route is a very different hike that involves a steep, rocky ascent known as the Chirico Trail

The two main trailheads are located near Issaquah High School. You’ll climb the same elevation on the High School Trail as Chirico Trail, but over a longer distance. 

The southern trailhead is located on 2nd Ave SE. Here, you’ll follow the unmarked yet obvious trail bringing you past backyards and soccer fields until you reach the same “High School Trail” sign.

The trail will drop, then head upwards and through a metal gate. You’ll see a map with many Tiger Mountain trails; for Poo Poo Point, continue along the main trail. 

Once the official High School Trail ends, continue to follow the Poo Poo Point Trail. Climb up through deciduous and coniferous forest, where wildflowers bloom in spring and mountain berries grow in the summer.

Enjoy the many small creeks along the route and catch views over the creek and mossy trees as you walk across the bridge over Gap Creek. 

About a half-mile from the bridge, there is a new trail, which you’ll turn right on and follow along the old logging path directly to Poo Poo Point. Find a spot on the grassy hill to relax, enjoy a snack, and watch paragliders overhead on clear days. 

Snoqualmie Falls 

  • Length: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 250 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Pass Required? None
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 30 miles; 35 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Snoqualmie Falls Lower Parking Lot

Snoqualmie Falls is a fantastic half-day adventure from Seattle if you need a quick city break. The trail is short, packed with information and views, and accessible for most levels. Located off of I-90, there are two parking lots for Snoqualmie Falls. 

There are also parking lots and a restaurant tucked into the Salish Lodge overlooking the roaring falls for a relaxing meal after your adventure. Follow an interpretive trail from the Upper Falls to the Lower Falls for about ¾ of a mile. 

Along the walk, read signs explaining the significance of the Snoqualmie River and Falls in Native American culture and explaining about local flora and fauna. Wander through ferns, fir, cedar, and maple trees that are particularly striking during fall. 

The reward at the end is an extraordinary view over the powerful waterfall. 

Walk along the walkway and revel in the roar of the falls and the refreshing spray encircling you. Snoqualmie Falls takes on a new facade each season and is at its most powerful in the spring due to fresh snowmelt. 

Little Si

  • Length: 3.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? Discover Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 33 miles; 35 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Little Si Trailhead

Little Si is the smaller neighbor to Mount Si—and a fantastic trek for newer hikers looking for a nature fix with a more modest physical challenge. 

This popular route is accessed from I-90 on Mount Si Road, where you’ll find a primary and an overflow parking lot.

Be warned that this popular trail attracts many visitors and is typically crowded, rain or shine. Both Little and Mount Si can be accessed year-round, making them some of the select hikes that can be experienced even during the off season, adding to their popularity. 

Don’t be discouraged by the immediate steep ascent—the trail soon flattens out. You also have the option to add on the Boulder Garden loop early on in the hike. Otherwise, continue left on the main trail through woods and over a boulder field. 

The final section of the trail is steep, but you’ll soon arrive at your destination. Take in views over the valley, as well as the peaks of Mount Si and Mount Washington before turning around and heading back down the mountain. 

Read More: Hiking the Little Si Trail in North Bend: Everything You Need to Know

Mount Si 

  • Length: 8.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,150 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Pass Required? Discover Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 35 miles; 40 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Mount Si Trailhead

The proximity of Mount Si to Seattle certainly contributes to the popularity of this well-trodden trail. 

The trailhead is in North Bend off of I-90 and is guaranteed to fill up, even on the not so ideal weather days. If you’re hiking on a weekend or holiday, consider shuttling with Trailhead Direct to save space and fuel. 

Mount Si is a perfect challenge for novice and experienced hikers alike, immersing you into some classic Pacific Northwest rugged beauty in the Central Cascades. The trail is also used by trekkers with weighted backpacks preparing for a Rainier ascent. 

As you set off on the trail, you’ll almost immediately start climbing, albeit at a gradual pace. The path flattens out at about a mile-and-a-half in. Take your time here as you walk among giant, old-growth trees that have withstood fires and logging. 

Mount Si was previously a mining and logging center before it was protected as a state conservation area. From here, the trail becomes much steeper and continues to climb through a new growth forest. Along the way, stop and catch some views when there’s a clearing in the forest. 

Near the top, you’ll find a great spot for lunch that overlooks rolling green valleys and Mount Rainier on clear days. 

Don’t stop here, though! Follow stone steps up and over rocks to Mount Si’s true summit, overlooking the Olympics, Seattle, and Snoqualmie Valley. 

The Twin Falls Trail 

  • Length: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Pass Required? Discover Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 35 miles; 35 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Twin Falls Trailhead

Just over half an hour drive east of Seattle in North Bend, Twin Falls Trail is a world away from urban life. The hike to the best viewpoint of the falls is just over 2.5 miles roundtrip and starts from the Twin Falls parking lot or from the Homestead Valley trailhead. 

Although these falls are known as the “Twin Falls,” there are technically three falls in the collection. 

The one downside? The proximity to the city and the fairly easy trail makes Twin Falls quite popular so you’ll be sharing the trail with a fair number of people. 

Start by hiking through grassy meadows blossoming with spring and summer wildflowers. The higher you climb the better the views of the falls will become. Although the hike doesn’t involve significant elevation gain, it does involve a number of slippery scrambles and switchbacks.

After the first hill, you can stop and admire a view of the Lower Falls at The Benches. Be wary of the winds that tend to slam through this area. 

Before you reach the main attraction of Twin Falls—the Upper Falls—you’ll cross a large bridge with beautiful views of the valley and smaller falls. After the bridge, climb a few stairs and a final slope and you’ll reach the best view of the Upper Falls. 

Read More: How to Hike the Twin Falls Trail: A Helpful Trail Guide

The Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

  • Length: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,160 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? None
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 35 miles; 40 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Rattlesnake Ledge Trailhead

Rattlesnake Ledge is the perfect escape into nature from Seattle without having to travel too far. This hike is accessible for most levels but won’t be boring for even more avid hikers looking for a light sweat. 

The trailhead is located on the northwest side of Rattlesnake Lake and is marked with extensive maps, history, and trail information. Start climbing through forest, which will involve a number of mossy boulders to scramble over. 

Stop to peer down at the lake along the way. Just under two miles in, you’ll reach a signed junction and to the right of that is Rattlesnake Ledge—it’s essentially an immense cliff drop-off. 

If you want to extend the hike, return to the sign at the junction and you can either head to East Peak, which is 2.4 miles away, or to Snoqualmie Park, which is 8.3 miles away. 

The Mailbox Peak Trail

  • Length: 9.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Very Difficult
  • Pass Required? Discover Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 37 miles; 40 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Mailbox Peak Trailhead

Don’t let the popularity of Mailbox Peak fool you—this hike is no easy feat and isn’t for the faint of heart. That being said, the updated trail is more manageable than the old trail. The number of rescues and injuries on the old trail were enough reason for a new trail to the top to be constructed. 

Your reward at the end? A mailbox full of letters, of course. 

Your adventure begins on Middle Fork Road off of I-90, where there are two parking lots next to the trailhead. Arrive early to have a chance at finding a spot. 

At the end of the paved road, walk around a gate, and enter into a clearing that indicates the new trail. The lower half of the hike involves a number of bridge and creek crossings. And then it’s time to conquer the many switchbacks. 

With about four miles of switchbacks to reach the top, it’s inevitable that your legs will be burning. The final push to the summit is even more of a challenge. The views will hopefully melt away the memory of your grueling ascent, however. The iconic mailbox marks the top. 

Take a break for a while along the ridgeline as you stare into the peak of Rainier and down over the fertile valley unfolding in a panoramic view in front of you. 

Dirty Harry’s Balcony

  • Length: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? Discover Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 40 miles; 40 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Dirty Harry’s Balcony Trailhead

Combine a hardy workout with some rocky viewpoints on this North Bend hike. Located off the exit for the Fire Training Academy, the trailhead for Dirty Harry’s Balcony is marked with a sign, where you’ll also find a parking lot

The first section of the hike requires you to walk on the road to the Fire Training Academy. Immediately after you cross the bridge over the Snoqualmie River, follow the trail that veers to the right. The trail starts climbing quite quickly, and you’ll follow switchbacks uphill for most of the trek. Notice climbing route bolts along the way and the massive boulders on the route that have been put in place to secure the trail. 

Take a breather on a cliff as you admire the views. Keep in mind this isn’t the ultimate balcony—you still have about a mile to go before you reach Dirty Harry’s Balcony, where valley and mountain views await. 

The Annette Lake Trail

  • Length: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash
  • Distance from Seattle: 47 miles; 50 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Annette Lake Trailhead

Shady forests, mountain vistas, cascading falls, and brilliant wildflowers. What more could one hope for from a Washington state hike? The trailhead for Annette Lake is situated on a Forest Road off of I-90. From the parking area, you’ll find the trail located to the right of the information kiosk and the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail. 

The hike begins gently, as the trail descends into a forest of cedar, fir, and hemlock trees to the roaring falls of Humpback Creek. After about a mile of walking through forest and open trail, you’ll intersect with the Iron Horse Trail and start your ascent. 

As you walk through the forest, stop and refresh at small creeks. The trail eventually opens up to views of Granite and Humpback Mountains, where you can also spot trillium and glacier lilies popping up through snow in late spring. 

The last leg of the hike involves a fairly flat forest trek that takes you to the shores of Annette Lake. Take in Silver Peak and Abiel Peak, as well as a waterfall, from here. Annette Lake has a camping area that makes for a fantastic overnight excursion. 

The Franklin Falls Trail

  • Length: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Pass Required? Northwest Forest Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 50 miles; 1 hour
  • Trailhead Location: Franklin Falls Trailhead

Get outside and stay active while with the bonus of getting to marvel at one of Washington’s infamous waterfalls. Franklin Falls is a quintessential Washington state waterfall experience that leads you to tumbling falls and a large plunge pool among shady forest. 

The trailhead is located near Snoqualmie Pass, about a half-mile past the Denny Creek Campground. You’ll find a parking lot that will fit about 30 cars.

If this lot is full, head about a half mile further where there is a larger parking area that has room for about 60 cars. Arrive early for the best chance at finding parking for this popular hike. 

The trail is accessible for most skill levels, with a gentle incline over the one-mile trek to reach the falls. Bridges, steps, and walls have been added to help make the more tedious parts of the trail safe for all hikers. 

Walk along a shady trail through leafy coniferous trees until you reach tree-shrouded boulders. 

Even though there are three tiers to the waterfall, only the last set of falls can be seen from the trails, which are most vibrant between April and July as the winter’s snow melts and feeds into the flow. Franklin Falls are active year-round. 

During winter, you can access the falls from a different exit that requires a longer hike—but be careful of avalanche warnings during the winter months!

Mason Lake via Ira Spring

  • Length: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,420 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Pass Required? Northwest Forest Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 50 miles; 1 hour
  • Trailhead Location: Ira Spring Trailhead

Come soak up the alpine lakes enveloped by evergreens and blooming meadows of wildflowers along this charming, moderately challenging adventure in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. 

The trailhead for Ira Spring is accessed from the parking lot at the end of Mason Lake Road off of I-90. While Mason Lake and Ira Spring are popular during the summer, this is also a fantastic trek in the fall with stunning foliage. 

Enjoy the slow start to the hike, as you wander through thick forest. A little less than a mile in, you’ll reach Mason Creek, which can be high with water in the spring but safely crossed via a footbridge.

About 1.5 miles in, after you veer left at an unmarked junction, prepare to make the steep climb on a zig-zagged trail. 

As you climb above the treeline, you’ll enter a magical meadow with blooming seasonal wildflowers and mountain views. Make sure to stay left on Bandera Mountain Trail and continue to climb to your pinnacle for the day—with views of Rainier on clear days.

You’re almost there! Drop down into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and head to the shores of the small but deep Mason Lake.

 The glimmering waters are a perfect spot for a dip on a hot day. If you continue along the main trail past the lake, you’ll also find designated camp spots.

You can call it a day here or extend the trip by heading to the summit of Little Bandera Mountain (a steep 0.6-mile excursion) or to Mount Defiance (a 1.5 mile-hike). 

The Wallace Falls Trail

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? Discover Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 50 miles; 1 hour 
  • Trailhead Location: Wallace Falls State Park

I can think of few things more rewarding at the end of a hike than roaring falls. The hike through dense forest to reach Wallace Falls is almost as spectacular as the falls themselves.

Technically, there are nine falls from three main sections within Wallace State Park and even if you aren’t up for climbing to the highest viewpoints, you can still catch phenomenal views from the lower and middle viewpoints. 

The hike begins from the Wallace Falls State Park parking lot. Arrive early to ensure finding a spot. 

Hike along the Wallace River through lush, green foliage. At two miles in, you’ll find yourself at the Lower Falls. Keep pushing until you reach the Middle Falls, where you can admire Wallace Falls, panoramic views of Skykomish River Valley, and a distant silhouette of the Olympic Mountains. 

The final climb to the Upper Falls involves some steep switchbacks. You might get pretty sweaty on the half-mile of switchbacks to reach the Upper Falls, but the challenge is part of the fun and the views at the top are a worthy reward. 

Read More: The Wallace Falls Trail: A Helpful Trail Guide

The Snow Lake (and Gem Lake!) Trail

  • Length: 7.2 miles / 10.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet/ 2,200 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? Northwest Forest Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 52 miles; 1 hour 
  • Trailhead Location: Snow Lake Trailhead

Snow Lake is unquestionably one of my favorite hikes (if not the favorite hike) of mine near Seattle. And I’m not alone in that opinion. Snow Lake is the most frequented lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, a wilderness region in the Central Cascades. 

Throughout the years and seasons, I never tire of this hike. Note that as tempting as it may be, it’s best to avoid this trail during winter, as there is avalanche danger. 

The trailhead for Snow Lake is located off of I-90 (east from Seattle) and is accessed from the Alpental Ski Area parking lot. Begin walking along a trail with a gentle ascent through forest. Enjoy a break in the trees at about a mile in and admire some views of the rugged landscape below. 

About halfway through the hike, you’ll start your short climb along the side of the mountain on a rocky, sloped path with open views to your surroundings.

The first views of Snow Lake are from above—don’t stop here though, as impressive as the sight may be. Continue down a trail to the lake, which provides you with a close-up view of the deep blue, pristine waters of Snow Lake. 

While the boulders make for a lovely lunch spot, you can continue further on a trail along the lake shore, where you’ll find an even more perfect view of Chair Peak and the mountains soaring above you. 

While Snow Lake makes for a phenomenal hiking adventure, add on Gem Lake to your excursion if you have the time and energy. From Snow Lake, follow the main trail all the way around the lake and then take a left.

The trail goes for another mile or so through rock fields and meadows before reaching the glistening Gem Lake. 

The Gold Creek Pond Trail

  • Length: 1.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 10 feet
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Pass Required? Northwest Forest Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 55 miles; 1 hour 
  • Trailhead Location: Gold Creek Pond Trailhead

Gold Creek Pond is a short but sweet loop. One of the highlights? It is ADA-accessible and stroller friendly, welcoming people of all fitness and accessibility levels to experience a taste of Washington’s nature and trails. 

The trailhead is located about two miles past Snoqualmie Pass exit off of I-90 in a designated parking lot. While you can hike it in either direction, I suggest heading counterclockwise along the loop. 

Amble along a creek through wildflowers. The path turns into a boardwalk that brings you across a marshy area over the creek. Take your time enjoying the clear blue waters of the pond, which is a great spot to explore and skip rocks across the water. 

Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch at one of the picnic tables on the beach and continue back along the loop once you’ve had your nature fix. During the winter, Gold Creek Pond is accessible as a snowshoe route and is a fantastic snowy adventure. 

The Heybrook Lookout Trail

  • Length: 2.6 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 850 feet 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Pass Required? None 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 55 miles; 1 hour 15 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Heybrook Lookout Trailhead

This short hike in Gold Bar is a perfect mini excursion outside of Seattle. Just after entering Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, you’ll find a small, gravel parking lot where you’ll also find an information kiosk and the trailhead. 

While you initially start off walking parallel to the highway, you’ll soon head into the woods. Take your time along this short, well-maintained trail, enjoying the sounds of birds chirping and sights of the ferns and moss. Just before you reach the lookout tower, you’ll be met with mountain views. 

Continue on as the views from top of Heybrook Lookout are much more impressive. Climb the 89 steps to the viewing area and savor the sight of the surrounding valleys.

On a clear day you should also be able to spot Mount Persis and Mount Baring—and maybe even Bridal Veil Falls cascading down Mount Index.  

The Lake 22 Trail

  • Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,350 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? Northwest Forest Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 56 miles; 1 hour 10 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Lake 22 Trailhead

Lake 22 is a perfect hike for those looking for a moderately challenging adventure through lush PNW terrain. The trailhead is located past Granite Falls in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, where there is a parking lot with space for about 50 cars. 

This beautiful rainforest trail is well-maintained and has been reinforced so the surface is sustainable and sturdy to walk across. Enjoy your amble across the damp forest floor, rich in ferns and moss. 

You’ll steadily ascend through hemlock and cedar trees, across creeks, and through thickets of berry bushes, from mountain views to wetlands. And at the end, marvel in the spectacular scene sitting before you: the snowy face of Mount Pilchuck, the rainforest terrain, and blossoming fields—all reflected in the waters of Lake 22. 

The Heather Lake Trail

  • Length: 4.6 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,034 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? Northwest Forest Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash
  • Distance from Seattle: 57 miles; 1 hour 10 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Heather Lake Trailhead

Heather Lake is the perfect hike for kids and experienced hikers alike. It’s a fairly short trail with a bit of a challenge—and of course pristine wilderness! The trailhead is located past Granite Falls and has a large parking area as well as some overflow space. Heather Lake gets quite busy on weekends, so a mid-week hike is recommended if it works in your schedule. 

A couple of miles before the trailhead is Verlot Ranger Station, where you can pick up a Northwest Forest Pass if you need it. 

Once you head out on the trail, you’ll immediately climb switchbacks up through old growth forest. Along the way, you’ll follow an old logging road and woods with small waterfalls. Admire the varied vegetation from giant, old-growth trees to red berries and ferns. 

Follow the wildflower-laden trail around Heather Lake in any direction to take in the changing views and unique terrain in each spot. The far side of the lake has some of the best rocks to enjoy lunch from.

You can even continue past the marshy area and come across a small pond with views of Mount Pilchuck. 

This hike is as lovely during the summer as it is during the fall—come during both seasons to experience the differing vegetation.

The Mount Pilchuck Trail

  • Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Pass Required? Northwest Forest Pass 
  • Dog-Friendly? Yes, on a leash 
  • Distance from Seattle: 60 miles; 1 hour 15 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Mount Pilchuck Trailhead

The relatively short distance makes Mount Pilchuck approachable with a hint of a challenge thanks to the steep ascent. Situated along the Mountain Loop Highway, the trailhead is located outside of Granite Falls. Note that part of the road to reach the trailhead is along relatively rough gravel. 

After you head out on the trail, you’ll reach a fork—veer right as the left trail is a false path. Much of the time you’ll be climbing through forest, sometimes up precarious rocks that require a bit of attention. There are a few false summits. 

To identify that you’re at the correct one, you should be able to see a fire lookout as well as a brown “Parking Area” sign on a tree at the summit. 

Upon reaching the top, which involves a steep scramble up big rocks to the fire lookout, you’ll soon forget the climb. From the top, take in the 360 views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and the Olympics from the shelter while you refuel with lunch. 

While Mount Pilchuck draws crowds during peak season, the challenge of this popular trek shouldn’t be discounted. 

The Naches Peak Loop

  • Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? No dogs allowed
  • Distance from Seattle: 85 miles; 2.5 hours
  • Trailhead Location: Naches Peak Loop Trailhead

The Naches Peak Loop is a spectacular summer and fall hike that is readily accessible for most everyone. The trailhead for the Naches Peak Loop is located just off of Chinook Pass. The parking lot is spacious though it fills up during peak season due to the popularity of hikes.

Summer brings meadows of blooming wildflowers and come fall, the meadows have transformed into rich hues of orange, golden, and red. Naches Peak Loop is one of the top easy hikes in Washington, with incredible mountain views and lakes along this relaxed trail. 

You can hike the Naches Peak Loop in either direction, though I recommend hiking it clockwise. By hiking it in this direction, you’ll save the best Rainier views for the second half of the hike. 

Start by ambling through open, grassy meadows and past a number of lakes and ponds, which are perfect lunch spots. After you leave the small lake at the 1.3 mile mark, Mount Rainier soon comes into view and stays for most of the remaining hike. 

The second half of the hike is simply spectacular. You’ll come into an old-growth forest with views over the deep blue waters of Dewey Lake down below. Wander slowly or bring a book and find a spot to unwind and read along the way to soak up the views and make the most of this hike. 

Read More: The Incredible Naches Peak Loop at Mount Rainier: Everything You Need to Know

Tolmie Peak Lookout

  • Length: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required: National Park Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? No dogs allowed
  • Distance from Seattle: 70 miles; 2 hours 30 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Tolmie Peak Trailhead

The olmie Peak trailhead is located in Mowich Lake Campground, where there’s a spacious parking lot. Mowich Lake is best accessed with a high clearance vehicle to navigate the 17-mile long washboard road. 

The trail starts off on a gentle incline through lowland forest until you reach Ipsut Pass, which is part of the Wonderland Trail. Continue for about a mile and you’ll reach the beautiful blue Eunice Lake surrounded by lush meadows. 

Eunice Lake is a great spot for lunch, although unfortunately it can be surrounded by bugs during summer. 

Alternatively, continue past the lake and make the final, steep climb of the hike, to reach Tolmie Peak and the old fire lookout. 

You may be sweating by the end, but you’ll be rewarded with perfect, unobstructed views of Mount Rainier while overlooking evergreen-lined ridges, the Carbon River Valley, and Eunice Lake. 

The Spray Park Trail

  • Length: 8.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required? National Park Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? No dogs allowed
  • Distance from Seattle: 70 miles; 2 hours 30 minutes 
  • Trailhead Location: Spray Park Trailhead

With the exception of the washboard road to reach the trailhead, Spray Park is one of my favorite hikes near Mount Rainier—and definitely makes the list of the best hikes in Washington State

The hike is challenging enough to feel like you’ve had a sufficient workout, but it doesn’t completely destroy you. The trailhead is also located at Mowich Lake Campground but starts from a different section of the campground from Tolmie Peak. 

Start climbing through shady, old-growth forest, where fallen trees are perfect benches from which to take in the peace and quiet of the forest. You’ll have the option to take a short detour to the viewpoint for Spray Falls, which I highly recommend. 

After a few hundred feet, you’ll reach a clearing in the trees above you, from which a long stream of water cascades down rock faces. 

After you’ve had your waterfall fix, continue along the hike, which steadily grows steeper.  Near the top, cross a small bridge over a stream and enter an open meadow with unobstructed views of Mount Rainier. 

This magical scene is one of my favorite spots in the park. Find a log in the shady meadow for a lunch break and opportunity to enjoy your surroundings. Once you’ve returned, you may want to take a dip in Mowich Lake to refresh!

The Mount Fremont Lookout Trail

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required: National Park Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? No dogs allowed
  • Distance from Seattle: 90 miles; 2.5 hours
  • Trailhead Location: Mount Fremont Lookout Trailhead

Fremont Lookout is a moderate hike that offers classic Rainier views and landscapes- a perfect way to spend a morning at Sunrise. Set out along Sourdough Ridge trail, which starts from the parking lot of Sunrise Visitor Center. 

Initially, the trail extends across open meadows and up rocky escarpment. You’ll eventually reach a junction with Mount Rainier and the three Burroughs looming in the background.

From here, follow the trail to the right past Frozen Lake and you will eventually reach the pinnacle of the hike: a historic cabin, which is one of the original fire lookouts in Mount Rainier National Park. 

From the lookout, savor the views of Mount Rainier, the Cascades, and the Olympic Mountains. The lookout point is quite exposed to the sun, so be careful on sunny days! 

The Burroughs Mountain Trail

  • Length: 9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Pass Required: National Park Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? No dogs allowed
  • Distance from Seattle: 90 miles; 2.5 hours
  • Trailhead Location: The Burroughs Mountain Trailhead

One of the more challenging day hikes in Mount Rainier, Burroughs Mountain is also one of my favorites. This trek is defined by three small peaks in high-elevation terrain that is exposed the entire way. 

On a sunny day, the hike can feel deceptively hot due to the sun exposure and the high elevation, though it feels much colder when you stop for a rest.

That being said, the open, barren landscape offers dramatic and unobstructed views of Mount Rainier throughout the trek and are much of the draw of the hike.

Head out on the trail to the Sunrise Visitor Center parking lot and follow the signs to the top of Sourdough Ridge. Well into summer, you might need to cross snowfields on your way to the First Burroughs.

Despite the dry terrain, the hills are still blooming with colorful wildflowers in early summer, where you can also often find goats, chipmunks, and marmots roaming the hillsides. 

When you reach Frozen Lake, follow the signs for Burroughs Mountain Trail and continue up a pretty steep incline to reach the First Burroughs Mountain.

Continue on to Second Burroughs, which requires some more elevation gain but rewards you with views from every direction: Glacier Basin, Little Tahoma, and sweeping views of the park. 

The Third Burroughs involves a steep climb to reach the rocky top at 7,800 feet, bringing you face-to-face with Rainier and its glaciated peak.  

Read More: The Burroughs Mountain Trail at Mount Rainier: Everything You Need to Know

The Skyline Loop Trail

  • Length: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,450 feet 
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Pass Required: National Park Pass
  • Dog-Friendly? No dogs allowed
  • Distance from Seattle: 110 miles; 3 hours 
  • Trailhead Location: Skyline Trailhead

The Skyline Trail is a perfect introduction to Mount Rainier, offering you the best of the park in one fairly accessible trail. On this roundtrip hike, you’ll walk through sloped, green valleys that are blooming with a smattering of rainbow-hued wildflowers in the summer months. 

By late September, these valleys will have turned red and gold with the warm shades of autumn. The brilliance of Skyline isn’t exactly a secret though, so you’ll likely be sharing the trail with quite a few other hikers. 

The hike begins on the trailhead behind the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center in the Paradise parking lot. As many hikes depart from the same area and intersect with other trails, make sure to follow signs for the Skyline Trail. 

You can hike the loop in either direction but we prefer hiking it clockwise. This keeps the meadows and the snowy peak of Rainier in front of you during the first half of the hike. 

The trail starts off with a pretty steep climb that eventually becomes gentler. Throughout the duration of the hike, you’ll be nearly face-to-face with the Nisqually Glacier of Mount Rainier. Upon reaching Panorama Point, you’ll be met with views of Paradise Valley, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. 

As you depart Panorama Point, there are two options to follow as you continue the loop back. You can take a significant detour on a four-mile trail to Reflection Lakes and Louise Lake. 

Otherwise, stay on the designated trail and pass by Myrtle Falls, a worthy photo stop about a half mile away from the parking lot. 

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