Updated July 2022
Seattle is called the Emerald City for a good reason. Lush greenery is everywhere. Urban trails crisscross throughout the city, and a nature park is never more than a couple of minutes away. In fact, there are thousands of PNW hikes just a few hours from Seattle. 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 weekend 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, weekend hikers can enjoy it just as much, especially if you head out early or later in the afternoon. 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 based on the name, 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 this weekend hike 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 is quite beautiful, it remains fairly undiscovered by Seattle residents. Highlights include lush, green forest, exciting creek crossings and sounds of the nearby rushing river.
3. Franklin Ghost Town – 3.2 miles
Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain is a gem of a weekend hike Seattlites can easily get to. The destination takes you to an open grassy knoll located on the west side of the mountain with sweeping views of Lake Washington and the surrounding foothills. Resting just above downtown Issaquah, adventurers can take in the fabulous views after trekking up the steep slopes. This is a popular spot for paragliders too, so hikers can enjoy watching the action unfold as they kick back for a mid-hike break. If you want a quicker way to Poo Poo Point, Chirco Trail is only 1.9 miles each way.
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. As a classic PNW hike, 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.
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 weekend hike to visit some of the other lakes in the area or sit back and take in the beauty of this alpine gem. If you love waterfall views and want to explore more of these natural beauties, check out 10 Washington Waterfalls To Put On Your Bucketlist.
6. Cougar Mountain - multiple trail lengths
Next to Tiger Mountain lies Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, an urban protected park that has 69 different PNW 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. Enjoy this PNW hike by walking 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 PNW hike is popular during the peak of summer. Dip your toes in the cool pool and relax on a hot day. This trail runs through private property, and the owners ask that you remain 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!
9. Mailbox Peak - 9.4 miles
Located just down the road from Little Si Trailhead, Mailbox Peak is another iconic PNW hike in close proximity to Seattle. The old trail was a strenuous trek 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 for your weekend hike. 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 as this trail is notoriously crowded.
10. Melmont Ghost Town - 7.9 miles
Completing the 8-mile trek to the old town of Melmont near Mount Rainier is no simple task, but that’s what makes this PNW 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 toward the trails, remember your Discover Pass. Day or annual passes grant users access to hikes all over the state of Washington. Your funds go toward 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!