21+ of the Best Hikes Near Seattle

Mount Pilchuck Hike Near Seattle

Are you looking for a great hike near Seattle?

Although it’s the largest and busiest city in Washington State, Seattle is well-known for its proximity to the great outdoors and its prevalence of outdoor activities, including hiking.

Seattle area trails range anywhere from just one mile to well over ten miles. Some are flat and child-friendly while others are steep, difficult, and exhausting. Hike along Puget Sound, through dense old growth forest, or to the summit of a mountain peak.

Browse our recommendations for the best Seattle hiking trails – or just use our navigation guide to skip to the type of hike that most interests you.

Here are 21+ of the best hikes near Seattle.

Navigation Guide

  1. Best Hikes in Seattle
  2. Best Hikes an Hour from Seattle
  3. Best Hikes Two Hours from Seattle
  4. Other Hiking & Backpacking
  5. When to Hike in Seattle
  6. Gear You’ll Need
  7. Additional Tips

Best Hikes in Seattle

Discover Park Hike in Seattle

Don’t want to leave the city limits? No problem. Seattle is home to numerous parks with quiet trails that provide an easily accessible taste of the great outdoors.

Here are three of the best hikes in Seattle.

1.    Discovery Park

Discovery Park Seattle

Length: 2.8 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Not only is Discovery Park the largest park in the city, but it’s home to some of the best hiking in Seattle proper.

The popular 2.8-mile roundtrip Discover Park Loop Trail meanders through dense forest and open meadows. Several viewpoints overlook Puget Sound. Thanks to minimal elevation changes, this flat trail is a great Seattle hike for children.

Learn more about the Discovery Park Loop Trail.

2.    Carkeek Park

Carkeek Park Seattle

Length: 3.5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

Located in the northwest quadrant of the city, Carkeek Park is another classic Seattle hike that’s popular with children, dogs, and joggers.

The 3.5-mile roundtrip loop is the main trail through the park, although several side trails give you multiple possibilities for exploration. The hike follows burbling Piper’s Creek through a steep canyon, crosses through Piper’s Orchard, and then passes an open meadow. A short detour leads you to a Puget Sound overlook (beach access is also available).

Learn more about hiking in Carkeek Park.

3.    Interlaken Park

Washington Park Arboretum

Length: 1.6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: None

The Capitol Hill neighborhood is home to Interlaken Park, another in-the-city Seattle hiking trail.

The short 1.6-mile roundtrip hike meanders through a hilly, treed area. Like many of Seattle’s forested parks, there are many offshoots from the main loop trail. Many locals like to lengthen this hike by walking through surrounding neighborhoods or to the nearby Washington Park Arboretum.

Learn more about hiking in Interlaken Park.

Best Hikes Near Seattle (Less Than One Hour Away)

Mailbox Peak View of Rainier

Seattle has many excellent hiking trails just a short drive away. Most of these are located under an hour’s drive outside the city, typically along I-90 east of the city in the Cascade Mountains.

Here are nine of the best hikes near Seattle.

1.    Mount Si

Mount Si

Length: 8 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Mount Si is undoubtedly the most popular hiking trail near Seattle.

More than 100,000 hikers flock to the trail each year thanks to its proximity to Seattle and rugged natural beauty. The 8-mile roundtrip hike gains 3,100 feet in the first 4 miles. Take your time to appreciate the old growth forests on the early part of the hike. But know the real reward is the sprawling views of the Cascades, Seattle, and the Olympic Mountains from the summit.

Learn more about hiking Mount Si.

2.    Little Si

Little Si

Length: 4.7 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

The smaller counterpart to Mount Si, the trail at Little Si is another one of the best hikes near Seattle.

At 4.7 miles roundtrip, this hike is perfect for beginners or those looking to get back into shape early in the season. The elevation gain is moderate overall but there are a few steep, challenging sections throughout. The views aren’t quite as prominent as from Mount Si but you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding valley from the final viewpoint.

Learn more about hiking Little Si.

3.    Poo-Poo Point

Poo Poo Point

Length: 7.2 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: None

Located on West Tiger Mountain, Poo-Poo Point is another top Seattle hike, just east of the city off I-90.

In addition to hikers, the summit of the 7.2-mile roundtrip trail is a popular launching point for paragliders. The trail starts in a forested area before passing through open meadows which are brimming with flowers in spring. After several creek crossing, you’ll find yourself at the large, open summit area which is a popular spot for a mid-hike snack or lunch.

Learn more about hiking Poo-Poo Point.

4.    Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge

Length: 4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: None

Short and sweet, Rattlesnake Ledge is often busy but the beautiful forested views make dealing with other hikers well worth it.

The 4-mile roundtrip hike boasts nearly nonstop views of Rattlesnake Lake below. The hike actually ends atop the sheer rock face across from the trailhead. The final approach parallels a steep drop – take extra caution when hiking with children and dogs. Just before the ledge, you’ll reached a signed junction with additional options for those that prefer a longer hike.

Learn more about hiking Rattlesnake Ledge.

5.    Twin Falls

Twin Falls

Length: 2.6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Twin Falls is another family-friendly hike near Seattle less than an hour east on I-90.

At just 2.6 miles roundtrip, it’s a good option for families with small children. The trail starts with a short climb up a small hill before traveling back downhill again into a swampy area known for its skunk cabbage. A few more ups and downs, including a series of switchbacks and sets of stairs, brings you to the roaring waterfalls.

Learn more about hiking Twin Falls.

6.    Ira Spring Trail – Mason Lake

Ira Spring Trail

Length: 6.5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Yet another Seattle hike located along I-90, the Ira Spring Trailhead is the start of several hikes, including the popular route to Mason Lake.

The Ira Spring Trail to Mason Lake is 6.5 miles roundtrip. The gorgeous alpine hike passes through thick forests, open meadows, and crosses several creeks. The trail ends at the stunningly blue Mason Lake surrounded by mountain views. A backcountry area is located here, perfect for first-time backpackers.

Learn more about hiking Ira Spring Trail – Mason Lake.

7.    Talapus & Ollalie Lakes

Talapus Lake

Length: 6.2 Miles

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

The trail to Talapus and Ollalie Lakes is not only popular with hikers, but also beginning backpackers looking to test out the backcountry camping waters.

The 6.2-mile roundtrip hike first stops at Talapus Lake before continuing about one mile further to Ollalie Lake. Many hikers stop at Talapus Lake for a swim while Ollalie Lake has several lakeside backcountry campsites for overnight visitors. Know that much of the trail is boggy so your hiking boots will probably get wet – even in the summer.

Learn more about hiking Talapus and Ollalie Lakes.

8.    Mailbox Peak

Mailbox Peak

Length: 9.4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Hard

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Mailbox Peak is among the most infamous hiking trails near Seattle.

Once accessed by the legendary yet notably dangerous Mailbox Peak Old Trail, the new 9.4-mile roundtrip trail is much safer but still just as special. Still steep and relatively long, the trail starts at a popular trailhead, crosses several creeks, and begins the difficult upwards climb through a series of switchbacks. All told, you gain roughly 850 feet of elevation per mile, but the mountain panoramas are worth it. The famous mailbox is still located at the summit.

Learn more about hiking Mailbox Peak.

9.    Snow Lake

Snow Lake

Length: 7.2 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Hikers of all skill levels agree that Snow Lake is one of the best hikes near Seattle.

Although there is 1800 feet of elevation gain over the 7.2-mile roundtrip hike, the majority of the terrain is mild without many steep climbs. You’ll meander through a forest for roughly a mile before the trail opens up with views of jugged Chair Peak in the distance. The scenic hike continues down to the lake with steep mountain walls and waterfalls all around.

Learn more about hiking Snow Lake.

Best Hikes Near Seattle (Less Than Two Hours Away)

Ebey's Landing Hikes Near Seattle

Have a little extra time? Countless hikes are located between one and two hours away from Seattle. Despite the longer driving time, most of these hikes can all be completed as a short day trip from the city.

Here are nine of the best hikes close to Seattle.

1.    Lake 22

Lake 22

Length: 5.4 Miles

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Lake 22 (sometimes written as Lake Twenty-Two) is a good sample of everything hiking near Seattle has to offer.

The 5.4-mile roundtrip hike meanders through temperate rainforest, old growth forest, and wetlands with mountain views all the while. After 1,350 feet of elevation gain you’ll find yourself at this beautiful alpine lake surrounded by rocky mountain faces. The trail continues around the lake – but stay off the boulder field. Know that the trail is almost always wet so your boots will likely get muddy.

Learn more about hiking Lake 22.

2.    Cherry Creek Falls

Cherry Creek Falls

Length: 5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: None

Cherry Creek Falls is one of the best hikes near Seattle for waterfall lovers.

The 5-mile roundtrip hike winds through the forest, traverses several small hills, and crosses a few creeks. The ending is the real treat where a viewpoint overlooks the falls. Or, continue down to the base of the falls via the small trail. Know that the falls sometimes dry up late in the season. Stick to the trail as the entrance and much of the beginning of the trail itself is located on private property.

Learn more about hiking Cherry Creek Falls.

3.    Mount Pilchuck

Mount Pilchuck

Length: 5.4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

The name Mount Pilchuck is legendary in Seattle hiking circles.

Like most of the best hikes near Seattle, the entire 5.4-mile roundtrip trail is scenic with a mix of forests and mountain views. But the views at the summit are extraordinary even compared to other Seattle hikes. Home to a historic fire lookout tower, the top of Mount Pilchuck boasts a 360° panorama with views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains on clear days. Just note that this trail is absolutely packed with other hikers on sunny summer days.

Learn more about hiking Mount Pilchuck.

4.    Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls

Length: 5.6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

Wallace Falls, located in Wallace Falls State Park, is one of the best hikes in Washington.

Yet despite its popularity, those that set out early can count on a sense of solitude and tranquility few other hikes near Seattle can offer. The beautiful hike follows the Wallace River with several waterfall viewpoints along the way. All told there are nine waterfalls in total, although Middle Falls is perhaps the most scenic. Stop here for a shorter, mellower hike or continue a slog up a series of switchbacks to Upper Falls.

Learn more about hiking Wallace Falls.

5.    Denny Creek

Denny Creek

Length: 6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Located near Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, Denny Creek is yet another popular family-friendly hike near Seattle.

At 6 miles roundtrip with a mellow grade, the trail is popular for families with children. Not only does the hike end at a cascading waterfall, but there are several popular swimming areas along the way, including the water slide rocks. The current can be swift and the water nearly freezing (even in the summer), so take extreme caution if you do hop in. Turn around here or continue on to Keekwulee Falls.

Learn more about hiking Denny Creek.

6.    Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Length: 4 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Short, sweet, and mellow, Bridal Veil Falls is another great trail for hiking near Seattle with children.

The 4-mile roundtrip trail follows an abandoned road before narrowing. Expect several easy creek crossings, especially early in the season. Shortly after crossing a bridge, you’ll arrive at the falls. Stop here or continue up the adjacent stairways to the top of the falls. The view of Bridal Veil Falls is impressive.

Learn more about hiking Bridal Veil Falls.

7.    Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Billy Frank Jr

Length: 5 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Refuge Entrance Pass

Located about an hour south of Seattle roughly midway between Tacoma and Olympia, the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife lover’s paradise.

Although there are multiple hiking options, the most popular is a flat 5-mile roundtrip jaunt. It follows an old boardwalk through a wetland before continuing past a historic barn and onto a boardwalk over the estuary. Bring your binoculars as it’s common for hikers to see eagles, owls, shorebirds, beavers, turtles, and other wild animals. A lookout tower with viewing platform provides 360° views of the Puget Sound.

Learn more about hiking Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

8.    Ebey’s Landing

Ebey's Landing

Length: 5.6 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Fees/Passes: Discover Pass

A little farther away than other best hikes near Seattle, Ebey’s Landing requires a short ferry ride to reach.

Located on Whidbey Island, this mellow and easy 5.6-mile roundtrip hike is a perfect inclusion on a family day trip to the island. It follows an expansive bluff and offers up views of Puget Sound as well as nearby working farms. Stop in nearby Coupeville for lunch or consider turning your day trip into an overnight trip by camping at Fort Ebey State Park.

Learn more about hiking Ebey’s Landing.

9.    Lake Serene

Lake Serene

Length: 8.2 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Fees/Passes: Northwest Forest Pass

Lake Serene shares a trailhead, and much of the same trail, with the above-mentioned Bridal Veil Falls.

As one of the best hikes near Seattle, you can expect an excellent workout as well as beautiful views along the entire trail. The 8.2-mile roundtrip hike splits off near Bridal Veil Falls and continues up to Lake Serene. Power through the last 1.5 miles and 1,300 feet of elevation gain to arrive at the alpine lake. The prominent walls of Mount Index rise up straight ahead.

Learn more about hiking Lake Serene.

Other Washington State Hiking Options

Enchanments Washington Hiking

Seattle is the perfect jumping off point for exploring the rest of Washington State.

In addition to three national parks, the state is home to countless other hiking and backpacking possibilities, many just a short drive or ferry ride away from Seattle. Or, maybe, you prefer to explore the city at a slower pace with a leisurely walk on one of its many scenic walking paths.

Here are a few additional walking, backpacking, and hiking options in Seattle and surrounding Washington State.

1.    Walking in Seattle

Green Lake

Seattle is home to a number of great walks for those that prefer a paved or gravel path over a trail.

Chief among the best walks in Seattle are the 2.8-mile roundtrip Green Lake loop, the 5-mile roundtrip Washington Park Arboretum near the shore of Lake Washington, and the 17.4-mile one-way Cedar River Trail that starts in nearby Renton.

Out of these, the loop around Green Lake is not only the most accessible for most visitors and locals, but also considered the quintessential Seattle walk.

2.    Backpacking Near Seattle

Shi Shi Beach

The North Cascades to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west are home to some of the best backpacking trips near Seattle.

Among the most impressive are the 37-mile roundtrip Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier on the Olympic Peninsula, the 18-mile one-way Enchantments near Leavenworth, and the 17.6-mile one-way Ozette to Shi-Shi Beach Trail along the Washington coast.

Our complete guide shows you how to plan a backpacking trip.

3.    Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park (just 1.5 hours from Seattle) is one of the most popular destinations for hiking in Washington State.

Considered “the single most spectacular hike in the entire park,” the 12-mile roundtrip Summerland (to Panhandle Gap) is a must-hike for visitors. Or, check out this list of Mount Rainier hikes from the WTA.

Learn more about hiking in Mount Rainier National Park.

4.    Olympic National Park

Mount Townsend

Although it’s a little farther from Seattle than Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park contains some of the best hikes in Washington.

Chief among these is the 8-mile roundtrip Mount Townsend. It’s also among the easiest to get to from Seattle (although a short ferry ride or a long drive are required). Or, check out the WTA’s guide to the best summer hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.

Learn more about hiking in Olympic National Park.

5.    North Cascades National Park

Cascade Pass

North Cascades National park offers some of the best remote hiking in Washington State.

For sweeping mountain views, colorful meadows, and a look at one of the most densely glaciated regions in the contiguous United States, the 7-mile roundtrip Cascade Pass is for you. The 7.6-mile roundtrip Diablo Lake Trail is another popular North Cascades hike that boasts breathtaking views of the turquoise lakes below.

Learn more about hiking in North Cascades National Park.

When to Hike Near Seattle

Seattle Skyline with Space Needled

The three hikes in Seattle (Discovery Park, Carkeek Park, and Interlaken Park) we mention above are open year-round for hiking.

The majority of our other top recommendations, however, are only open during the summer (and sometimes late spring and early fall) thanks to their mountainous location.

The best window for hiking in Washington State, especially in the Cascade Mountains, is from roughly mid-July through mid-October (unless you feel confident hiking on snow).

Keep an eye on the weather report and check the WTA trip reports from other hikers so you know what type of weather (and trail conditions) to expect.

Hiking Gear You’ll Need

Muddy Hiking Near Seattle

Bring the correct hiking gear to most enjoy hiking in Washington State.

Because of the rain that the state is famously known for, proper outdoor rain gear is essential, even for summer hikes.

In addition to a breathable rain jacket (and possibly lightweight rain pants), most Seattle hikers opt for a waterproof daypack for Seattle day hikes.

Broken-in boots are also key. The abundance of rain makes trails muddy and rutted. Mix this in with lots of rocks and roots. Good-fitting, well-worn hiking boots are key to a comfortable hike.

Although hiking boots or hiking shoes are your best option for most hikes near Seattle, many hikers do bring along a second pair of footwear for stream or creek crossings.

A spare pair of shoes, old hiking boots, or sports sandals (like Teva footwear) help you safely navigate water crossings while keeping your main hiking boots dry.

Additional Seattle Hiking Tips

Hikes Near Seattle

Many hikes in Washington State require a permit or pass.

The Discover Pass is required for most hikes on state land while the Northwest Forest Pass is required for most hikes on federal land.

Although some hikes don’t require a permit or pass, most frequent Seattle hikers buy one or both of the above passes (each is valid for a full year). Many hikes also offer inexpensive “day passes,” available at the trailhead.

The Washington Trails Association (WTA)  provides a more detailed break-down of recreation passes and permits, including a “What Pass Do I Need?” FAQ.

The most thorough resource for hiking in Washington, the WTA lists the different permit/pass requirements for almost every hike in the state.

Many of the best hikes near Seattle are also located near campgrounds. Go tent camping or find a Seattle RV rental for a weekend full of hiking fun.

Here are some of the best places to go camping in Washington – many just outside of Seattle (and near hiking trailheads!).

Looking for a hiking buddy? Meetups.com has a full list of hiking meetups in Seattle for outdoor lovers that want to explore Seattle’s trails with a new friend, including groups for hiking with dogs.

The WTA also maintains a list of hiking groups in Washington, broken down by geographical region.

Plan Your Seattle Hiking Trip

Lighthouse Discovery Park Seattle

It doesn’t get much better than hiking near Seattle.

The 21+ hikes outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of Washington State hikes are located just a hop, skip, and jump away from Seattle.

Please let us know if you need help finding the perfect hike near Seattle!

1 COMMENT

  1. I enjoy reading your article. So well informed with details. I fell like the writer hiked every trail, and it helps me to choose the right trail.

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