Washington State is home to an abundance of hiking trails in a variety of landscapes, from the coastal rainforests in the west to the rugged, snow-capped mountains in National Parks and forests in the east. Seattle residents have the opportunity to explore all of these diverse terrain options, all within an hour or two drive from downtown’s Space Needle! Here are a few of the BRMB team’s favourites, from easy and popular to more remote and challenging.
Chain Lakes Loop Trail
Winding its way through meadows and home to wildflowers in the spring, blueberries in the summer and blazing colours in the fall, this 8 mile (13 kilometre) loop with an elevation gain of 1,700 feet (520 metres) offers breathtaking scenery with views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan as well as the North Cascades.
Ebey’s Landing Trail
A great Washington coastal hike, Ebey’s Landing Trail is an easy 5.2 mile (8.4 kilometre) round-trip that offers views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities for bald eagles, sea lions and even orca during the summer months. Take the ferry from Mukilteo and drive to the town of Coupeville. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular along the trail!
Granite Creek Trail to Granite Lakes
Leaving from the Granite Creek Trailhead, found off Highway 90 near the town of North Bend, the hike to Granite Lakes is 8.8 miles (14 kilometres) in length with an elevation gain of 2,270 feet (690 metres). The trail, a former logging road through second-growth forest, follows Granite Creek to the two small lakes surrounded by jagged talus peaks.
Little Si & Mount Si Trail
These two trails are one of the most popular destinations in Washington State with over 100,000 visitors a year. Mount Si is an 8 mile (13 kilometre) return hike with an elevation gain of 3,150 feet (960 metres), with switchbacks and steep climbs right from the start while Little Si is a 4.7 mile (7.6 kilometre) return hike with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet (395 metres). The trailhead is on SE Mount Si Road, a short 45-minute drive from Seattle.
Mailbox Peak Trail
For experienced hikers, the relatively steep 9.4 mile (15 kilometre) return trip with an elevation gain of 4,000 feet (1,220 metres) travels through a forest to a boulder field and open meadows to the summit. The trail begins at the Middle Fork Road trailhead and climbs via a series of switchbacks to the peak where the old mailbox awaits along with panoramic views of surrounding summits. Add a sticker or take or leave an item while enjoying the breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.
Mount Pilchuck Trail
A moderate one-day summit within two hours of Seattle, this 5.4 mile (8.7 kilometre) round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 2,300 feet (700 metres) leads to 360-degree views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and the Olympics from the look-out shelter at the top. This is a very popular hike and is always busy; hit Starbucks at 6 am, get your wake-up joe and be at the trailhead by 7:30 am to beat the rush. Follow the Mountain Loop Highway, take Mount Pilchuck Road to FSR 42 and follow it 6.8 miles to the trailhead.
Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
A 4 mile (6.4 kilometre) round trip hike with an elevation gain of 1,100 feet (335 metres), the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail leads to a sheer rock ledge which offers views of both Rattlesnake and Chester Morse Lakes. While the route to the top can look daunting from the trailhead, found off Cedar Falls Road SE in Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area, a series of well-engineered switchbacks through second-growth forest helps lessen the steepness … a bit.
Snow Lake Trail
Accessed from the Alpental Ski Area parking lot, the hike to Snow Lake is a 7 mile (11 kilometre) round-trip with an elevation gain of 1,800 feet (550 metres). Snow Lake is one of the most visited lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and from the parking lot, the trail climbs 200 feet up log steps. A gradual ascent through the forest to a talus slope and switchbacks lead to a saddle before the trail drops 400 feet down to an inlet to the lake. Cross the inlet and continue down to the lake and along the lakeshore.
Soaring Eagle Regional Park
Open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, Soaring Eagle is home to 12 miles (19 kilometres) of inter-connected trails. The trails, running through forests, wetlands and wildlife habitat, run off the wide and flat Pipeline Trail which runs through the middle of the park. There are four trailheads into the park in Sammamish but the main access is from E. Main Drive.
Wallace Falls Trail
Wallace Falls State Park features some of the finest scenery in Western Washington, including Wallace Falls which drop from a height of 265 feet (80 metres). From the trailhead off Highway 2, it is a 5.6 mile (9 kilometre) hike to the falls. Hikers can add a 3.4 mile (5.5 kilometre) side trip to Wallace Lake which is usually quiet and uncrowded.
Did we miss one of your favourite Seattle area hikes?
Let us know in the comments below! For close to 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometres) of trail coverage across the state, pick up the brand-new Washington State GPS Map! And keep your eyes peeled for the premiere edition of the Washington State Backroad Mapbook, coming soon!
Jam-packed with extra features and all of the BRMB award winning map detail, these maps are your all-in-one navigational tool for exploring the Evergreen State.