Hiking in Seattle: 10 Hiking Trails in Seattle for the Perfect Weekend Activity

Seattle is a beautiful city surrounded by lush green forests, snow-capped mountains, and glassy bottomless lakes. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a quiet day of hiking in Seattle, there are enough options to last you a lifetime. From State Parks to trails hidden away in old private properties, you can enjoy the smell of fresh, earthy forest air just a few miles from the city center! Explore the ‘Road Not Taken’ and feast your eyes on scenes straight out of a Bob Ross painting!

Ready to put your hiking boots on and go for an adventure? Here are the 10 best Hiking trails in Seattle. 

1. Cherry Creek Falls

Cherry Creek Falls

Cherry Creek Falls located near Duvall, Washington is a rainforest with two scenic waterfalls. It is one of the best and easiest places for hiking in Seattle. With a low elevation of 179 meters, the trek is fairly doable across all fitness levels. The first few meters are privately owned property so there are a few restrictions. There is a small path nearly 2 miles into the hike so make sure to carry some food and swimming clothes for a cool and refreshing pit stop. 
Distance: 5 miles out and back. 
Time: 3-5 hours 
Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate 

2. Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge

The Rattlesnake Ledge is one of the trails in the Snoqualmie Region. It is a family-friendly hiking area with beautiful mountains, green meadows, and scenic lake views. The recreational area covers a lake, picnic spots, the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail, and biking trails. If you feel like hiking further you can extend your trip to the longer 8.3-mile hike leading to Snoqualmie Park.
Distance: 2 miles to Rattlesnake Ledge
Time: 2- 3 hours
Difficulty Level: Very Easy 

3. Twin Falls

Twin Falls

With an elevation of 500 feet, the Twin Falls trail offers a lovely walk by the river leading up to a waterfall. The Twin Falls hiking route is filled with ferns, mosses, and old forest trees that offer a majestic view. Make sure to carry some waterproof gear as the road gets muddy or swampy after a light rain. Armed with a Discover pass and love for nature, conquer the Twin Falls hike in Seattle and take Instagram worthy pictures!
Distance : 3 miles round trip
Time: 3-5 hours
Difficulty Level: Moderate

4. Snow Lake 

Snow Lake

An hour’s drive from Seattle, the Snow Lake is often called the “most visited lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness''. With an elevation of 1800 feet, this trek is harder than most. A sight to behold throughout the year, avoid going in the winter unless you have the proper gear and previous experience hiking in the snow. The best time to trek is between June to October where you can trek past beautiful lakes and alpine vegetation to reach the mountain peak overlooking the snow lake. You can also go birdwatching, backcountry camping, and fishing in Snow Lake after your hike. The summer is a popular time for trekkers and the trail can get congested but Snow Lake still remains the most popular destination for hiking in Seattle. 
Distance: 7.2 miles round trip 
Time: 4-8 hours.
Difficulty Level: Moderate- Hard

5. Lake 22 Trail

Lake 22 Trail

The Lake 22 Trail is covered in rugged terrain with numerous ridges and a moderate elevation of 458 meters. Located in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National forest, it is heavily traversed in the summer and avalanche-prone in the winter. Hiking is best done in the spring and autumn months as the rainforests, old-growth, wetlands, and mountain views paint a magnificent picture.  Grab your Federal Northwest Forest Pass and explore the best of the hiking in Seattle experience.
Distance: 5.4 miles roundtrip 
Time: 3-4 hours 
Difficulty Level: Easy-moderate 

6. Poo Poo Point 

Poo Poo Point

Accessible all year round, the Poo Poo Point is a backtrail near Issaquah, Washington within Tiger Mountain State Forest. Dating back as far as the logging era, the Poo Poo Point hike in Seattle is dotted with creeks and moss-covered trees. If you visit in the hotter months, you might catch some paragliders who use the peak of West Tiger Mountain as a launchpad. Catch the sunset or the city skyline from the mountain top after this picturesque hike in Seattle. 
Distance: 3.8 miles roundtrip or 7.2 miles out and back.
Time: 2-6 hours 
Difficulty Level: Moderate  

7. Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls

The Wallace Falls is a 12-mile trail with options to stop at the Lower, Middle, or Upper Falls with difficulty level and elevation increasing as you go higher. The trek is very rewarding and offers an expansive view of the waterfall and forests. The hiking is a 5.6-mile round trip best explored between April - November. With a Discover pass, you can hike, watch wildlife, camp at the Wallace Falls park, and enjoy water activities just a few miles ahead. 
Distance: 5.6-mile round trip 
Time: 4-5 hours.
Difficulty Level: All levels 

8. Mount Pilchuck 

Mount Pilchuck

With an elevation of 2300 feet, Mount Pilchuck is a challenging hike with a fair amount of rock climbing. The relatively short but strenuous 2.7-mile ascent is worth it as you can see a majestic view of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, and the Olympics from the top. Mount Pilchuck is the highlight of Hiking in Seattle for experienced hikers.
Distance: 5.4 miles round trip 
Time: 4-5 hours 
Difficulty Level:  Hard

9. Franklin Ghost Town

Franklin Ghost Town

Franklin Ghost Town is a historic coal mining town near Seattle. With old mining equipment, headstones for the cemetery, and relics, remnants from the era are still scattered across the trail. For a history lesson and an easy day- hike in Seattle, Franklin Ghost Town is the best option.  
Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip
Time: 2-3 hours 
Difficulty Level:  Easy

10. Mount Si

Mount Si

With a fantastic view of Puget Sound and the Upper Snoqualmie Valley, Mount Si is the perfect spot for hiking in Seattle. With an elevation of more than 3000 feet, the hike is difficult with boulders and ridges. Permits are required for the first few meters as they are private property. Around 100,000 people trek Mount Si every year making it a popular spot for hiking in Seattle and it's crowded in the summer and on weekends. Climb the Mountain top and take in the breathtaking and panoramic view of the Snoqualmie National Park. 
Distance: 8-mile round trip
Time: 5 - 7 hours 
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Hard 

Best Time to go Hiking in Seattle

The best time to enjoy outdoor activities in Seattle like hiking, biking, swimming, and sports is between July and September.

Summer: The weather is warm, dry, and pleasant and the hiking trails are clear and easy to navigate. However, if you are looking for a winter adventure, Seattle offers activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking from October to March.
Winter/Autumn: If you want to avoid the crowds, the Fall-Winter season is the best time to go trekking. While Seattle has mostly rainy and chilly weather, it is part of the allure of hiking in the city. The wilderness looks magnificent with vivid colors of red, orange, and yellow in the Fall. The winter months are equally enticing with snow-covered mountains and vast expanses of white snow covering the forests. 

Tips for Hiking in Seattle 

  • Choosing the right trail- The weather makes Hiking in Seattle a challenge in the winter months. The snow-capped mountains and the smell of rain in the forest can be enticing. However, it is important to choose the trails based on prior experience, difficulty level, and available gear. 
  • Check the Weather: Unless you are an experienced hiker, avoid trekking too late in the winter. With avalanches and heavy rains, the risks are high. Check the weather a few days prior to your trip to plan what essentials to bring. 
  • Know your fitness level and limits. Hiking is ultimately supposed to be a fun experience. To make your hiking in Seattle experience memorable, do not push yourself too hard, and get injured or stuck. Stop, rest, and take a break when you feel exhausted.
  • Clothing and Boots: Dress appropriately. Avoid Jeans, skinny fit clothes, flip flops, and cotton clothes. Wear sports clothing, sturdy boots, and thick pants. 
  • Hiking Gear and maps in case of no cell service: Carry raincoats, a charged phone, compasses and maps. Many of these treks are off the beat locations deep within the Washington wilderness. So if your cell reception is spotty, you still have a printed map to show you directions. 
  • Let someone know where you are going if you are trekking alone. It will help if you are stranded on a hike and have no way of informing authorities. 
  • Pack lightly and only essentials. Hiking in Seattle can be unpredictable with swampy marshes and muddy terrain. So, carry enough food, water, and first aid for the hike and other essentials like raincoats or snow goggles according to the weather. 
  • Washington Permits for parking and a Discover pass for state parks are required at some hiking trails in Seattle. Discover Pass costs USD 10 per day and an annual pass costs USD 30. 
  • Join an outdoor group or find an events group on Facebook. Hiking in Seattle forests is best enjoyed in groups. Often you can share gear and stories around a campsite. 
Hiking in Seattle is the perfect weekend adventure. Explore the lush evergreen forests, arctic lakes, natural vegetation, and rugged terrain next time you are in the Emerald City!

This post was published by Anupama Manjunath

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