Updated March 2021
Seattle is called the Emerald City for a good reason. Lush greenery is everywhere. Urban trails criss-cross throughout the city, and a nature park is never more than a couple of minutes away. In fact, there are thousands of hikes just a couple hours from the city center. We know our fellow Seattlites are itching to hit the trails for some fresh air and joyful movement. If you want to experience the abundant forests surrounding Seattle, here are 10 hikes you won’t want to miss.
1. Little Si – 3.7 miles
Little Si and its larger companion Mount Si are often referred to as “Resolution Peaks,” due to the masses that appear on the trails right after each new year begins. Don’t be deterred by threats of crowds however, because the trail is popular for a reason. Plus, if you head out early or later in the afternoon, you’ll miss most of the weekend warriors. The first quarter mile is rather steep and grueling, but the path levels out to give you a break before the final push to the peak. Although you might think Little Si provides little sights, the 1,550-foot elevation at the summit has breathtaking views of Snoqualmie Valley, Rattlesnake Mountain, and Mount Washington.
2. Pratt Connector to Pratt River Trail – 6.0 miles
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, check out the hikes around the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River outside North Bend. The Pratt Connector is a newer section of the trail that offers a faster and safer way to access the Pratt River Trail. Although the 6-mile round-trip hike is quite beautiful, it remains fairly undiscovered by the Seattle weekend hikers. Highlights of the hike include lush, green forest, exciting creek crossings, and sounds of the nearby rushing river.
3. Franklin Ghost Town – 3.2 miles
South of Seattle, near the small town of Black Diamond, lie remnants of a time gone by. Spend the day hiking through lush forests and gushing waterfalls to find abandoned railroad cars, large bridges, old buildings, and a spooky graveyard. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, the town of Franklin was a thriving coal mining community, but today it exists simply for people to enjoy and explore at their leisure. This property is on private land and parking costs $5 per car.
4. Dash Point State Park – multiple trail lengths
Nestled on Puget Sound just north of Tacoma lies one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets. Sandy beaches and an extensive trail system make for a day of fun. You wouldn’t know that you’re just minutes from urban action. This is a great trail to hit at sunset as you can watch the sun dip below the Puget Sound waters and watch the forest come alive during golden hour. Wander around the trails as you please, or choose a specific track to follow.
Let Three Tree Point Bed & Breakfast be your basecamp for exploring all that Seattle has to offer. This upscale B&B is just half an hour away from Dash Point State Park and is close to several other bayfront parks, perfect for picnicking, biking, and hiking around the area. Return to your luxurious room after a long day, unwind in the hot tub, and watch the sunset over the Sound.
5. Snow Lake – 6.4 miles
Snoqualmie Pass is dotted with serene alpine lakes and you could spend a lifetime exploring all of the hidden gems dispersed through the forest. If you only have a few days to explore the area, put Snow Lake on the top of your list. The trail takes you through a gradual climb of thick wild forests and numerous waterfalls before dropping you at stunning Snow Lake. You can extend your hike to visit some of the other lakes in the area or sit back and take in the beauty of this alpine gem.
6. Cougar Mountain – multiple trail lengths
Next to Tiger Mountain lies Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, an urban protected park that has 69 different hiking trails. Whether you want to take a quick stroll or trek to the top of Cougar Mountain, there is a trail for you. Due to the protected nature of the park, this is an excellent spot for birders looking for woodland species. Bring a pair of binoculars and keep an eye out for some of Washington’s rarest birds.
7. Lime Kiln Trail – 6.7 miles
Because of the deep timber and mining history of Washington, old railroads were built throughout Seattle and reached far into the Cascade Mountains. Up past Everett, just outside the small community of Granite Falls, lies an old Lime Kiln that is accessible through the old railroad path through the mountains. Artifacts from saws to cast iron stoves to old bricks have been found all over the trail. Walk along the river through groves of ferns and blackberries. The 20-foot tall, moss-covered lime kiln will appear almost camouflaged in the surroundings.
8. Cherry Creek Falls – 4.9 miles
Out near Duvall is a stunning double waterfall known as Cherry Creek Falls. This low-elevation hike is popular during the peak of summer. Dip your toes in the cool pool after your hike and relax on a hot day. This trail runs through private property. The owners ask that you are quiet, respectful of parking rules, and keep pets on-leash. Love to explore with your furry friends? Click here to read more about dog-friendly Washington adventures!
Stay at the Hideaway Lodge Bed & Breakfast in Woodinville and you’ll be minutes away from hikes all over Eastern Seattle. Less than half an hour from Cherry Creek Falls and a quick trip over to other favorites make this the perfect getaway for outdoor explorers. Come back to your cozy accommodations and relax before hitting the town for the evening.
9. Mailbox Peak – 9.4 miles
Located just down the road from Little Si Trailhead, Mailbox Peak is another iconic hike close to Seattle. The old trail was a strenuous hike with 4,000 feet of elevation gain in under three miles. Now, thanks to the Washington Trail Association, there is a longer, less intense path to reach the famous mailbox at the summit. While the new trail is less difficult than the original, it is still quite steep. Dream of the panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the Middle Fork Valley at the top while you make your way along the path. Consider hiking Mailbox Peak on a weekday. This trail is notoriously crowded.
10. Melmont Ghost Town – 7.9 miles
Completing the 8-mile trek to the old town of Melmont near Mt. Rainier is no simple task, but that’s what makes this hike so special. After the steep entrance to the trail, the path mellows out to an easy-going walk along the river. You’ll see rusted through remnants of old cars, and crumbled foundations of this historic and possibly haunted site. You’ll want to check this town out before the forest swallows it completely. If you love the historic components of Melmont Ghost Town, check out the History Buff’s Guide to Washington’s Best Historical Hikes.
Before you toss on your hiking boots and speed off towards the trails, remember your Discover Pass . These day or annual passes grant users access to hikes all over the state of Washington. Your funds go towards trail building, protecting wild areas, and servicing these beloved trails. A day pass costs $10 per car or you can pick up an annual pass for $30. Grab yours online or at one of the 600 dealers across the state, from forest service stations to local businesses.
Hit the trails around the Emerald City and let Washington INNSiders guide you to the perfect retreat, cozy bed & breakfast, or rustic country inn for your Seattle vacation!