Mount Rainier over Seattle
Mount Rainier over Seattle; photo credit: Joe Wolf via Flickr

The 6 Best Hikes Near Seattle

Seattle has great access to some of the best trails in the country. With mountains, forests, and beaches only a short drive from downtown, there are lots of options for hiking close to the city.

Driving up Interstate 5 through Seattle on a clear day, mountains dominate the view. Mount Rainier, towering 14,411 feet over the city, sets the scene for an area full of outdoor adventure. Looking east, deep green forests cover the hillsides, and Puget Sound stretches out to the west.

If you’re looking for somewhere to get outside after work or for a quick outing on the weekend, this guide highlights some of the most popular hikes near Seattle. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, an experienced hiker or you have never put on hiking boots, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful area.

Quick Trips

If all you have is the afternoon or an evening after work, these hikes are for you. Located only 15-30 minutes from downtown Seattle, you can get your nature fix, get a workout in, and be back in time for dinner.

Coal Creek Falls

Coal Creek Falls hike near Seattle
Coal Creek Falls, Washington; photo credit: Andrew E Larsen via Flickr

This hike is a great family outing located in the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Get lost in the lush greenery of trees covered in moss, giant ferns, and spring wildflowers as you take this short hike to a cascading waterfall.

Park at the Redtown Trailhead and follow Coal Creek up to the falls. There are multiple trailheads in the area and many trails that crisscross the park, so make sure to bring a map.

Location: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 216 feet
Need to know: No parking pass required and dogs allowed on leash

Poo Poo Point

Poo Poo Point
Poo Poo Point, Washington; photo credit: Nomadic Lana via Flickr

Another great option within a half-hour drive from downtown Seattle, Poo Poo Point is a popular option for Seattlites looking for a cardio workout. Located on Tiger Mountain, the area has many options for trails that climb to the top of the mountain. Although it’s not much higher than the area around it, Poo Poo Point is technically one of the summits of West Tiger Mountain. It’s also a popular location for paragliders to launch due to a flat clearing from logging in the area.

There are two options for trails to the top of Poo Poo Point. The first is the High School Trail, which begins at the High School Trailhead and is a more gradual climb but a longer trail. The other, the Chirico Trail, starts at a separate parking lot, known as the Poo Poo Point Trailhead. This is a much steeper, shorter trail.

The name, which might cause even the most mature person to giggle, actually comes from the sounds of steam whistles heard in the early days of logging in the area.

Location: Tiger Mountain State Forest
Distance: 3.8 to 7.2 miles depending on your route
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1,858 feet
Need to know: No parking pass required and dogs allowed on leash

Half-Day Hikes

These are two great shorter day outings located about 30 to 60 minutes outside of downtown Seattle.

Mount Si

Mount Si
Mount Si, Washington; photo credit: brewbrooks via Flickr

Mount Si is probably one of, if not the most popular hike, near Seattle — and for good reason. With 3,000-plus feet of elevation gain in 4 miles, this hike is a great challenge for both beginning and advanced hikers alike. On a clear day, you will enjoy views of Rainier, the Snoqualmie Valley, Seattle, and the Olympics as you huff and puff up the steep, forested slopes of Mount Si.

This hike is great if you’re looking to summit your first peak in the Cascades or if you want a training hike before tackling some of the big volcanoes, such as Rainier. It’s a common sight to see people hiking with weighted backpacks training for future trips.

If you’re not quite up for the length and elevation gain of Mount Si, try Little Si, the younger sibling of the larger peak. With steep grades at the beginning and the end of the hike, but a mellower middle, Little Si allows you to work up to bigger hikes. And it still offers great views at the top of Mount Si and nearby Mount Washington.

Location: Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area
Distance: 8 miles round trip
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation gain: 3,150 feet
Need to know: Discover Pass required for parking and dogs allowed on leash

Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls hike near Seattle

Located outside Gold Bar, Washington, off of Highway 2, about an hour and 15 minutes from Seattle, this popular hike has something for everyone. Hike to the Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls and catch glimpses of mountains along the way as you wind through a forest full of firs and ferns.

The Middle Falls is the most impressive cascade, but keep hiking to the Upper Falls to see an expansive view of the Skykomish Valley and potentially find some solitude. The hike on the way out is a gradual incline, with both flatter and steeper sections, making this an accessible trail for most hikers.

Location: Wallace Falls State Park
Distance: 5.6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
Need to know: Discover Pass required for parking and dogs allowed on leash

Full-Day Trips

These hikes are perfect for a weekend when you want to get further away from town, be in the mountains, and not come home until after dark. Make sure to leave early to give yourself plenty of time to complete these stunning adventures. And make sure to dress appropriately for a full day on the trails.

Kendall Katwalk

Kendall Katwalk, Washington
Kendall Katwalk; photo credit: Martin Criminale via Flickr

Enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and enjoy wildflowers and wild blueberries in season as you wind your way across talus slopes. The hike’s namesake, the Kendall Katwalk, is a thin, 150-foot section of trail, blasted into the side of a rock face. The Katwalk itself lies just past Kendall Peak, where you can turn around or continue to a pair of lakes about 1.25 miles farther up the trail.

The rest of the trail winds through an old-growth forest and up into the mountains on the Pacific Crest Trail. The whole hike exemplifies the beauty of the Cascades with stunning views of peaks. This hike makes a great full-day hike or a short backpacking trip.

Location: Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Distance: 12 miles round trip
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation gain: 2,600 feet
Need to know: Northwest Forest Pass required for parking and dogs allowed on leash

Tolmie Peak Lookout

Tolmie Peak Lookout
Tolmie Peak Lookout via Eunice Lake; photo credit: Sharat Ganapati via Flickr

You can’t take a trip to Seattle, or call yourself a local, without visiting Tahoma, also known as Mount Rainier. The glacier-covered peak dominates the skyline, and getting a close-up look is even more impressive. Give yourself a full day to head out to Mount Rainier, as it’s an almost 3-hour drive from the Seattle area. Or take a weekend and plan an overnight stay. You can camp or book a vacation rental.

This hike takes you to one of the four remaining fire lookouts in Mount Rainier National Park. From this vantage point, you will enjoy dramatic views of the mountain and the surrounding area. Start the hike from Mowich Campground. Hike around Mowich Lake (a great place for a post-hike swim!) before you start to gain elevation. Turn left at the pass and continue to Eunice Lake. Stop here or head up the last steep mile to reach the lookout and spectacular views of Tahoma.

Location: Mount Rainier National Park
Distance: 7.5 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
Need to know: National Parks Pass required and no dogs allowed

Ilana Newman
By

Ilana is a writer, photographer, and life long learner. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she spends her free time climbing, running, and skiing in the mountains. She is passionate about intersectional social justice work in the outdoors and creating access for all.

Topics: , ,

Tags: