Hiking Guides / Washington State

A Complete Guide to the 18 Best Hikes near Seattle

I, Matt, lived in the Pacific Northwest for 15 years, and Seattle holds a special place in my heart. The best part about Seattle, and the Pacific Northwest in general, is that no matter what you are into, you will find plenty of things to do and see, and a passionate community dedicated to your interests. You know what interest we have that a ton of people in Seattle share? Hiking.

While we love taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the city, whenever we go back we always make sure to spend a day or two exploring the surrounding wilderness and doing one of the best hikes near Seattle.

Between the summer of 2020 and 2021, we actually spent over two months around Washington living in our converted Honda Odyssey and exploring the best that Washington, my home state, has to offer.

In this guide, we are sharing our picks for the best day hikes near Seattle, and hope that you discover a new trail that you fall in love with. Did we miss one? Leave a comment! We’d love to hear about your favorites and add them to our list!

Most of the Seattle hikes listed below are outside of public transportation lines, so you’ll want to make sure to have a car – either a rental or your own – to access the trailheads. Some of the trailheads are at the end of a long, bumpy, unpaved road, which is noted in the hike description (looking at you, Heather Lake). 

A quick note on driving distances. All the distances listed below are one way, so double it to get your total drive time from Seattle. You’ll find a wealth of amazing hiking trails, just an hour or so away from Seattle, but if you’re willing to go an extra 30-60 minutes, you’ll find some of the best hikes in the state, if not the entire country. 

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one and purchase something, we make a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. It goes without saying that we would never recommend something we wouldn’t use or do ourselves.

Hiking Trails near Seattle: A Geography Overview

While there are some really solid places to go hiking near Seattle, some of them are a little far for a day trip. Here’s a brief guide to the hiking regions around Seattle. 

  • North: North Cascades National Park and Mount BakerThis area has a wealth of hiking but is a little too far away for a day trip at between two and three hours by car. If you plan on visiting, you will need to stay at least a night or two. However, the lakes and mountains of this area are stunning; I would 1000% recommend a visit if you have time. The hikes to the north picked out below are along the Mountain Loop Highway, which is roughly an hour north of Seattle.

  • South: Mount Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens – These two volcanoes are south of Seattle, and Rainier in particular is home to some of Washington’s best hikes. To this day, I still find myself in awe of Mount Rainier anytime I catch a glimpse of the mountain. (PSSST! Click here to read our guide to the best hikes at Mount Rainier). Mount Rainier National Park is a two hour drive from Seattle, which stretches the definition of a day trip, but is definitely worth the journey. Mt. Saint Helens National Park is approximately a three hour drive away, so a day trip would be tough. It’s closer to Portland, which would actually make it a better day trip from Portland.

  • East: Snoqualmie Pass and the Cascades – Snoqualmie Pass is a beautiful area of hiking trails in the Cascades. The best part is that it’s only a short distance away from Seattle, and in summer the area is full of blooming alpine meadows. In winter, Snoqualmie Pass turns into one of the most accessible and popular ski resorts around Seattle. In high school, we used to have a “ski bus” that would whisk us away for some afternoon skiing at Snoqualmie Pass, and I have very fond memories of it.

  • West: Olympic National Park – Unfortunately Olympic National Park is really too far away from Seattle for a day trip. It’s going to take you about three hours to drive one way. However, if you get a chance to spend a few days outside of Seattle, head to this area. The forest looks like something out of a fairytale, and it is one of the most stunning places I have ever hiked. Whether you’re looking for beaches, the Pacific Northwest’s famous temperate rainforest, or snow-capped mountain peaks and rushing rivers, you’ll find it in Olympic National Park. 

When is the Best Time to Go Hiking in Seattle?

Summer brings blue skies and warmer days, making it the best time to visit Seattle and the surrounding areas, especially if you’re planning to hit the hiking trails near Seattle. 

July to September is the ideal time to visit Seattle for the most consistently nice hiking weather, but it is also peak tourist season – expect accommodations and flights to be the most expensive if you’re coming from out of town. During the peak summer months of July and August, most if not all trails will be snow-free. 

If you want to avoid premium prices and crowds, September and October are super nice, but there will definitely be a higher chance of gray and drizzly days. We were in Washington in August and September last time, and the weather was fantastic, with clear sunny days interspersed with the occasional dreary drizzly day. 

Spring and winter are rainy and gray, but as long as you pack a rain jacket and waterproof boots, you will be fine. The rain in Seattle is mostly a light mist rather than heavy downpour, which is annoying, but shouldn’t stop you from getting out and hiking if you’re set on it.

The biggest problem with hiking in the Seattle area during any other season than summer is snow on the trails. For the most part, trails around Seattle (even trails that are less than an hour outside of the city) are covered in snow from November to June, sometimes later. 

Wondering what to wear on a hike? Check out our guide to what to wear hiking for our exact hiking wardrobe, and recommendations on what to wear in each season.

Passes and Permits for Hiking Near Seattle

Let’s talk about the passes you might need to hit the trails near Seattle. 

For the hikes that are inside a Washington State Park, like Mount Si and Little Si, you’ll need a Discover Pass. It costs $10 for a one-time entry that covers your entire vehicle (and the people in it), or $30 for an annual pass. Buy it at REI here

For hikes in one of Washington’s many national forests that are run by the US Forest Service, like Mt. Baker, Snoqualmie National Forest or Olympic National Forest, you’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass. We found that this is the pass we used most often in Washington (and Oregon, too).

It will cost you $5 for a day use permit, which I’d recommend buying online in advance since you can’t reliably find them at trailheads (I’d suggest buying multiple and filling them out as you use them), or $30 for an annual Northwest Forest Pass that covers all US Forest Service land in both Oregon and Washington. Find both at REI here

Last, but certainly not least, is the National Parks Pass. This one is useful if you’re planning on hiking in any of Washington’s national parks – Rainier, Olympic, or the North Cascades (though the latter technically doesn’t require it for entry).

A seven day pass costs $30 per car, and the America the Beautiful Pass, which actually includes US Forest Service lands covered by the Northwest Forest Pass, costs $80 for a year. Basically, if you’re planning on going to more than two US national parks within a year, buy the annual America the Beautiful Pass. You can get it online at REI here

What to Pack for Hiking in the Pacific Northwest

If you’re new to hiking in the Pacific Northwest, there are some things you should know to help you navigate the trails in this part of the world. 

The first thing to know is that, many times, hikes in Washington are straight up and straight down. You’ll start at the base of a mountain, hike up to a viewpoint often on steep switchbacks or stairs, and hike right back down the way you came.

The second thing you should know is that you’re likely to encounter water in some form, usually either in the form of rain (even in the summer, though it’s definitely more rare) or a creek / river crossing. 

For those reasons, there are a couple of things that we would say are essentials for hiking in the Pacific Northwest (aside from the ten essentials, which you should bring along on every hike, regardless of which state or region you’re in). 

  • Sturdy hiking boots / shoes: Preferably waterproof. We’re partial to the Adidas Terrex Swift GTX shoes (Alysha has had two pairs that she has hiked in for almost a decade) and Columbia Newton Ridge Boots (a great entry-level waterproof hiking boot).

  • A rain jacket: Self-explanatory. There’s always a chance that the weather turns to rain when you’re in the mountains, and we never hit the trail without a rain jacket in our backpacks. I like my Columbia rain jacket, which is a nice affordable waterproof jacket, perfect for Washington. Waterproof pants are nice too – there is absolutely nothing in the world worse than soggy pants.

     
  • Trekking poles: Hear us out. We thought they were lame too (or only for older hikers), but now we never, ever do a tough hike without them. You know the part where we said that you’re going to be hiking up and downhill a lot? Trekking poles help in both directions. On the way up, they give you more leverage and help you set a nice pace. On the way down, they’ll save your knees. We both have these REI trekking poles, though the buckles are failing (and have been for awhile) and we’ll be investing in a pair of these Black Diamond poles next, which have a different three-piece setup that is more durable.  

There are also some other things to pack for your hike, like a good daypack (we like Osprey backpacks for their lifetime guarantee, particularly the Talon / Tempest, which is what Alysha currently has), a reusable water bottle (we each carry two of these collapsible water bottles, which are perfect for both hiking and travel), and snacks. 

The 19 Best Hikes Near Seattle: A Complete Guide

In this guide, you’ll find hikes mainly in the Snoqualmie, Mountain Loop Highway, and Rainier regions, which are probably the most accessible from the city of Seattle. Plus, a few hikes that are actually inside the Seattle city limits!

If you want to hike in Olympic National Park or North Cascades National Park, those would be better done as a weekend trip from Seattle

The trailheads for all of the hikes in this guide are less than two hours away from Seattle (one way). With the notable exception of the Skyline Trail at Mount Rainier, which is a bucket-list-worthy hike and is worth the extra twenty minutes of driving to do. 

Now, let’s get into the hikes near Seattle for hiking enthusiasts of all fitness and experience levels. 

The Best Hikes in Seattle 

Hikes within Seattle are a bit more like leisurely walks, but worth checking out if you are a little short on time and aren’t able to explore further outside of the city. Or, if you don’t have a car. All of these hikes are pretty easy to get to via public transportation or Lyft. 

Hiking in Discovery Park 

  • Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 140 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: None

Locals love exploring the biggest park within Seattle’s city limits, and it can get pretty busy on weekends. However, Discovery Park is easily one of the best hikes in Seattle. If you go at quieter times of the day, it’s relatively common to spot some wildlife like bald eagles! The main hiking trail is a 2.8 mile loop, but there are a number of trails that wind throughout the 524 acres of woodland, and you can easily choose a longer or shorter hike depending on the time you have. 

It’s also one of the best hiking trails in Seattle if you don’t have a car thanks to its proximity to the city. It’s just west of the neighborhoods of Queen Anne or Ballard. It’s also well-connected to the city via the metro. 

Whatever you end up choosing, definitely make sure to hike out to the West Point Lighthouse, which is on the Pacific Ocean. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Hiking in Seward Park 

  • Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: None
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: None

I wouldn’t necessarily call this the most thrilling hike in the world, but Seward Park is a lovely green oasis on the southern edge of Seattle. It is flat, making it perfect for all abilities, and offers fantastic views of Lake Washington as you meander around the point along the lakefront.

I would recommend taking a picnic lunch and sitting by the lake to relax either before or after your walk. Weekends and holidays are very crowded, but the park is popular all days of the week. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Green Lake Trail 

  • Length: 2.8 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 164 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Pass Required: None

Again, I think we’re stretching the definition of the word “hike” with this one, but it’s a beautiful flat stroll. I used to live near Green Lake, so I may be a bit biased, but I think this is one of the best hiking options inside the Seattle city limits, and one I used to do regularly if I couldn’t make it to the mountains.

The lake the trail is named after is beautiful and over 50,000 years old, formed by the retreat of a glacier. There are two paths around the lake, the path closest to the lake’s edge is made of crushed granite and is used by walkers and joggers. The outer path is paved, which makes it perfect for people who prefer a more stable surface for walking.

Definitely try to come here for sunset or sunrise, the park is a little quieter, and the reflection of the sky in the lake’s surface is magical. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Best Hikes East of Seattle 

To the east of Seattle is Snoqualmie National Forest and the Cascade Range, where you’ll find some of the most beautiful alpine lakes and snow capped peaks in the entire country. This is where I grew up and where my parents still live. 

In terms of accessibility, you can’t beat the hikes to the east of Seattle, most of which are within an hour of the city by car. 

Rattlesnake Ledge

  • Length: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,160 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 40 minutes 
  • Pass Required: None

Every time I had done this hike it has magically been sunny at the bottom, and foggy at the top until the most recent time, so I had really only seen pictures of the spectacular view. Now that we got up to the viewpoint over blue-green Rattlesnake Lake on a clear summer day, I can officially confirm that it’s a great view. 

This is a popular hike, partially because it is only a short distance outside of Seattle, basically in the town of Issaquah, but it feels like you’re in the middle of the wilderness. On summer weekend mornings, the trail is packed with families, kids, and pups all getting a nice workout in and enjoying the views at the top. 

You’ll be hiking straight up and straight down on a well maintained trail, but it can be wet and slippery if it has rained recently. You’ll be hiking through the forest on the way up, and the only time you get a break in the trees for a nice view is when you reach the top. 

Bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots for traction and hiking poles to save your knees on the way down.

If you can swing it, try visiting at sunrise or sunset to catch the amazing view from Rattlesnake Ledge. Looking across the small lake right below the mountain, with views of the dense forests on the mountains in the distance, is a great way to start or end your day! 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Poo Poo Point 

  • Length: 7.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,858 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back 
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 20 minutes 
  • Pass Required: None

The hike up to Poo Poo Point is a fairly easy hike with amazing views over Issaquah and Lake Sammamish to the northwest. You’ll climb through the forest of Tiger Mountain, which is notoriously muddy after rain (or, just muddy in general in the winter and spring). Another reason to wear waterproof hiking boots.

The climb can be a little steep, and you will certainly feel it in your thighs the next day. On the way up to the highest point in the hike, you will probably see paragliders launching –  it’s one of the best spots for paragliding in the state. Be sure to stop here for a snack and take in the view before you head back the way you came to start the descent to your car. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Snow Lake (and Gem Lake) Trail

  • Length: 7.2 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 50 minutes 
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

If you’re at all familiar with hiking around Seattle, you probably know Snow Lake. When you think about all the great hiking in Washington, this trail is one of the most popular in the Seattle area because it gives you a taste of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (one of the most spectacular hiking destinations in the country) without the effort of backpacking in and spending the night. 

The stunning alpine lake this hike is named after is one of the most visited lakes in the area, attracting plenty of visitors who don’t mind the short hike up. However, it is worth braving the crowds to see this lake up close and personal. 

You’ll start from Alpental Ski Area near Snoqualmie Pass Ski Resort, and climb immediately from the trailhead. You’ll wind through the forest before emerging into a clearing, where the switchbacks begin. Ascend up the rocky switchbacks, and when you crest the hill you’ll get your first views of Snow Lake. From here, you’ll start to descend into the basin, and eventually you’ll arrive at the lakefront. 

Don’t stop here! Continue along the right side of the lake, following the trail to the end of the lake. You’ll be rewarded with fantastic views across the crystal-clear lake, with the rocky peaks rising above the lake to the southwest.

If you’re up for it, you should continue on to Gem Lake, which is far less crowded than Snow Lake, and equally gorgeous. It’s 11 miles round trip, but most of the elevation gain happens in those switchbacks at the beginning. The rest of the hike is relatively tame, and you’ll cross a few log bridges that are kind of fun along the way. We were two of four people (and a very cute pup) at Gem Lake, while there were probably 100 people at Snow Lake at the same time. 

If you’re really feeling good, continue onto Wildcat Lakes, which adds another 3 miles making it a 14 mile day. If you do this, bring PLENTY of water and snacks. It would make a fantastic overnight backpacking trip that you could probably do in one night. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Mount Si Trail

  • Length: 8 miles / 12.8km 
  • Elevation Gain: 3,150 ft. / 960m
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 40 minutes 
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass

This hike is no joke. It’s straight up, gaining over 3,000 feet of elevation over the four miles it takes to get to the summit (to be clear, then there’s another four miles back down). 

Even though this trail is difficult, it is hiked by approximately 100,000 people every single year because it is so accessible from Seattle and the surrounding area. North Bend, which is where you’ll find the trailhead, is just a 40 minute drive from Seattle. 

If the weather is good (it usually is in the summer), the parking lot can most often be found full of the cars of people attempting this brag-worthy climb.

If you’re up for a challenge, this hike is definitely worth the effort as the rugged beauty of the area guarantees stunning surroundings anytime you need to stop and catch your breath. Take this hike slowly so you can take it all in!

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Little Si Trail

  • Length: 3.7 miles / 6km 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft. / 396m 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 40 minutes 
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass

The little brother to Mount Si, this is also a heavily trafficked trail.

It’s equally accessible from Seattle in terms of getting there, and significantly more accessible in terms of the hike itself. This one is a little more family-friendly so it will be busier on weekends. 

The start and end of this hike have steep inclines, but the middle is more gradual in elevation –  all with great views.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Twin Falls Trail

  • Length: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead Location
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass or a $10 day pass available at the machine in the parking lot 

If you’re in the market for an easy hike near Seattle with a nice payoff at the end, this hike to Twin Falls is for you! I’ve done this hike a few different times now, and it’s always a pleasant journey. 

Heads up – you will need a Discover Pass to park at the trailhead. Last time I was there, the machine to buy day passes wasn’t working, which presented a bit of a conundrum for people who didn’t have an annual pass. 

The hike starts out by following the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River before deviating from the path of the river and climbing gently up some switchbacks through the forest. The trail drops down back to the river (briefly) before you start the final ascent to Twin Falls, which involves a little bit of up and down along the way.

The payoff is, you guessed it, Twin Falls. There are two viewpoints – one for the Lower Falls, and one for the Upper Falls.

For the Lower Falls, veer right off the trail at the 1 mile mark, and take the path down the hill. 

Then, climb back up to the main trail and continue along for another 0.1 mile, which is when you’ll reach the viewing platform for the Upper Falls. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Best Hikes South of Seattle 

If you’re heading south, most of the best hikes are in Mount Rainier National Park.

It’s the furthest you’ll have to go to get to the trailhead, but we also think they are the most rewarding hikes near Seattle. Mount Rainier is nothing short of spectacular, and most of these hikes take you up close and personal with the mountain.

The Skyline Loop Trail 

  • Length: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 2 hours 40 minutes 
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

In my opinion, the Skyline Trail is one of the best hikes in the state of Washington because it gives one of the most spectacular views of Mount Rainier that you’ll find anywhere. Plus, it takes you through the fields of wildflowers that Paradise is famous for if you do it in the early summer. It’s a bucket list worthy hike.

At the high point of the trail, you’re going to feel like you can literally reach out and touch the mountain, and the views are not something you’ll soon forget.

This is often recommended as the trail to hike if you only have time for one hike at Mount Rainier, so it is a busy trail. If you go earlier in the morning, it is definitely a little quieter. We started at 7:00 am, and the big parking lot at the base of the trail was still about half full. 

This is a popular trail for a reason. If you go during the middle of summer, the avalanche lilies and other wildflowers are in full bloom and the fog has lifted enough to allow beautiful views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding areas.

Myrtle Falls is another highlight, with the Mountain lined up perfectly behind the falls for one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Mount Fremont Lookout Trail

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 2 hours
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

The Fremont Lookout is one of only four remaining fire lookouts in Mount Rainier National Park. It is one of the best Mount Rainier hikes for panoramic views over the national park for a reason – rangers used to be stationed here to watch for forest fires.

The hike up to the lookout is just as sensational, with wildflowers, a herd of curious mountain goats, plenty of cute and cuddly marmots, and the ruggedly beautiful mountain terrain as you follow the ridge out to the lookout. 

It can be busy, so you should definitely get an early start, but it is worth braving the crowds. Bring binoculars for the view and bug spray for the mosquitos who also enjoy the view at the lookout. Seriously. I’ve never seen so many mosquitoes in my life, and we were totally not expecting them since it’s not wet or marshy at the top. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Burroughs Mountain Trail

  • Length: 9 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 2 hours
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

This is some of the best hiking in Mount Rainier National Park if you enjoy a challenge. The Burroughs Mountain Trail offers some insane views of Mount Rainier, but makes you work hard for them.

The Burroughs are, for lack of a better word, three lumps that are at the base of Mount Rainier’s northeastern face, and by the third one you’re basically face to face with the most spectacular natural beauty that Washington State has to offer.

Throughout the entire hike, there are views across the whole park, including of Rainier itself, to keep you going. When you get to the peak, Mount Rainier looks almost close enough to touch. 

We were fascinated by the swirling cloud that forms above Mount Rainier and seems to grow as the day goes on. 

Even in summer some of the trail may be covered in snow, so it is important to head out mid-summer once the snow has had a chance to melt. Aside from that, the trail is popular enough that it is in pretty great condition. 

One thing we noticed is that the park map has the trail ending at the second of the three boroughs. If you’re up for it, you should definitely head out to the third one, which is closest to the face of Mount Rainier, but know that it’s technically “unmaintained.” 

You’ll probably encounter a few mountain goats along the way, and maybe more than a few marmots. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Tolmie Peak Trail

  • Length: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 2 hours
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

We haven’t actually done this hike yet for one simple reason. The trailhead is at the end of a long, unpaved road, and our minivan is not super adept at navigating bumpy forest roads. Though our Honda Odyssey, and most passenger cars, would be fine as long as they took it slow. Better yet, bring a friend with a high-clearance vehicle!

This is another fire lookout hike, but the view from the Mt. Fremont Lookout is from the other side of the mountain. The trail is somewhat long, but the elevation gain really isn’t too bad for hiking in Washington. It’s in really good condition due to its popularity, so hiking at dawn or dusk would not make for a more difficult hike (just bring a headlamp!). 

I recommend anyone doing this hike to stop by Eunice Lake for a snack and a rest. It has beautiful sapphire waters which reflect the surrounding mountain peaks. In summer, it can be buggy, so be sure to bring some bug spray with you if you’re planning a stop at the lake for lunch.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Spray Park Trail

  • Length: 8 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 2 hours
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

This trail is a delight in the mid-summer as the meadows come alive with alpine flowers. In my opinion, this is some of the best hiking in the park because it is so quiet relative to the other trails in Paradise and Sunrise. Mostly because of the aforementioned unpaved and sometimes bumpy road to the trailhead.

Among the mossy forests, it is easy to feel completely at one with nature. The trail will take you past a powerful waterfall, along a babbling creek, through several beautiful alpine meadows, and up a number of switchbacks until you reach the breath-taking views of the mountain as a reward for your effort. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Naches Peak Loop

  • Length: 3.4 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Pass Required: America the Beautiful Pass

The Naches Peak Loop might just be the best bang-for-your-buck hike in the entire state. It has to be on any list of the best easy hikes in Washington, given it’s only 3.4 miles long with a gentle climb up to the top, where you’ll be greeted with some of the most spectacular views of Mount Rainier in the park. 

The best place to park is at the Tipsoo Lake comfort station, which is on the southwestern side of Tipsoo Lake, and has bathrooms (which is important after a two hour drive). 

From the trailhead, tackle the trail clockwise. You’ll start with a gentle climb, which passes alongside the lake and through a field of wildflowers in the early summer before crossing a bridge and intersecting with the Pacific Crest Trail.

Continue the journey, which winds its way through the forest and past a couple of pretty tarns (the fancy word for ponds) before reaching the summit at about half way through the hike. 

At that point, you’ll be hiking straight towards Rainier – which is why we recommend doing it in this direction – and there’s a half mile stretch of trail where it’s just nonstop jaw-dropping views of the Mountain.

It’s also well-worth coming here for sunrise, when the rising sun lights up Rainier’s glaciated peak in a beautiful pink color. The best place to catch the sunrise is here, up on the road on the eastern side of Tipsoo. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

Best Hikes North of Seattle 

Some of our favorite hikes in the Pacific Northwest are located up in North Cascades National Park and the Mount Baker area, but that’s too far for a day trip since it is approximately three hours one way (definitely worth an overnight or a weekend trip from Seattle if you have time!). 

Lucky for us, there are some great hikes north of Seattle that can be done as a day trip with less than three hours of total driving. 

The Lake 22 Trail

  • Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,350 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 1 hour 20 minutes 
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

First of all, this trail gets busy.

It’s one of the most popular trails in Washington, and there’s a reason for that. The lake at the end of this short but surprisingly strenuous hike is gorgeous. It’s a gem in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, which has an incredible array of great hikes.

It’s in the rainforest, so expect things to be a little wet. Along the way, you’ll pass pine trees, lush green ferns, and a few small waterfalls. It has some of the lushest vegetation around, and the lake itself is stunning. 

While the trail is very well maintained, it is always quite wet, so wear good hiking boots and expect them to get a bit muddy. In winter and spring, the trail will be covered in snow and can be prone to avalanches, so be sure to check conditions before you go hiking. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Mount Pilchuck Trail

  • Length: 5.4 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 1 hour 30  minutes
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

One of the famous fire lookouts in Washington State! From this one, you’ll be able to see straight to Mt. Baker to the north and Mount Rainier to the south, at least on a clear day. You might even catch a glimpse of the Olympics out west across the Puget Sound.

The views are nothing short of spectacular, but you’re going to have to earn them with a somewhat poorly marked trail that gains 2,300 feet of elevation in just under three miles.

Mount Pilchuck is a difficult hike, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views in the state. This is one of the best day hikes near Seattle, especially if you’re looking for a solid workout. It is a busy trail though, especially on weekends, as many people flock to the climb for the spectacular views. If you prefer a quieter hike, go earlier in the day, and off-peak season. 

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

The Heather Lake Trail 

  • Length: 4.6 miles 
  • Elevation gain: 1,034 ft. 
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location 
  • Drive Time From Seattle: 1 hour 
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

First of all, the hardest part of this hike might actually be the pothole-ridden road to get to the trailhead. It’s not a joke when they say high clearance 4×4 vehicles are recommended, though you can do it in a sedan if you take it realllllly slow. 

The hike to Heather Lake starts out steep as you leave the parking lot, but otherwise it’s a pretty easy hike. It’s just outside of Seattle. You’ll climb through towering trees and lush green ferns along the well-maintained trail. Once you get to the lake, definitely make the loop around, which adds a half mile to your hiking distance. 

The trail is a little marshy, like other hikes in the area, so bring waterproof hiking boots. In the summer the trail is surrounded by wildflowers and berry bushes.

Find more trail information and recent trail reports here.

A Map of the Best Seattle Hikes


That’s all we’ve got! Whether you’re a beginner hiker looking to get out and explore for the first time, or an trail-hardened veteran, we hope you’ll discover something new.

What did we miss? Hit us with your favorite hikes near Seattle in the comments so we can add it to our list to do in the future!

MORE TO EXPLORE IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

If you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, we’ve got you covered with all sorts of super detailed travel guides to our favorite places in Washington and Oregon.

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