Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast or a first-timer eager to explore the outdoors, you’ll find plenty of trails within a short drive of Seattle. We rounded up a variety of options to help you find just what you’re looking for, from peaceful wooded strolls to steep climbs with rewarding views.
5.1 miles (16 minutes) from Seattle
The Arboretum is home to a great collection of hiking trails. The main loop trail is a paved path that circles the park for roughly two miles. Most of the other trails that branch off of it are dirt paths. As you walk, you can read interpretive signs to learn more about the plants that line the paths. Azalea Way, at the center of the park, is especially nice in the spring when beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees are blooming.
6.9 miles (26 minutes) from Seattle
Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle, at 534 acres, and is located on the site of Fort Lawton, a former U.S. Army post. The park’s 2.8-mile loop trail is easily accessible from the Visitor Center, where you can park, use the indoor restroom and grab a trail map before heading out. The trail will take you through forests and meadows and past historic buildings. As you head west, you will run into the North Beach and South Beach trails, which will lead you toward the West Point Lighthouse at the westernmost tip of the park. On a good day, you will be able to see across Puget Sound to the peaks of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges.
10.8 miles (29 minutes) from Seattle
The Bluff Trail runs for 5.6 miles and has an elevation climb of roughly 300 feet. It takes most hikers around 2 hours to complete without stops, but with its many beautiful views of Puget Sound, as well as beach access, you may want to factor in time for a relaxing picnic on the sand. Parents recommend this trail as being a good option for kids, as the elevation gains are gradual. Just be sure to bring sun protection since there are few shaded areas along the trail.
19 miles (37 minutes) from Seattle
Tiger Mountain State Forest offers a variety of hiking trails, but one of the more interesting routes takes you to Poo Poo Point, an incredibly scenic spot that is also a popular launching area for paragliders. Chirico Trail, which is 3.8 miles roundtrip, will be challenging for novice hikers due to its 1,760-foot elevation gain. You can stop for a breather at South Launch Viewpoint, just over a mile and a half in. This is also a launch spot for paragliders, but more importantly, you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of Mount Rainier on a clear day. Continue on to reach Poo Poo Point. There are picnic tables and a public toilet, but no potable water at the site.
24 miles (36 minutes) from Seattle
The Pipeline Trail is one of the main hiking trails in Soaring Eagle Regional Park and connects to several different trailheads. It is 10.5 miles from point to point and takes more than 4 hours to complete. This multi-use trail is a popular one for day hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers and, occasionally, trail running events. Don’t be surprised if you see wildlife as you hike, such as bobcats, black bears and black-tailed deer. Those who enjoy birding should keep their eyes peeled — there are more than 40 different species of birds in the park.
31 miles (42 minutes) from Seattle
Rattlesnake Ledge is located just east of the Tiger Mountain State Forest. It is a popular out-and-back hiking trail with a steady 1,160-foot elevation gain over two miles). Along the way, you’ll enjoy Instagram-worthy photos of Mount Si, Mount Washington, Cedar River Watershed and the surrounding lakes. If you’re looking for a longer hike, there are plenty of connecting trails. Grab an area map at the Rattlesnake Ledge trailhead to plan your route.
37.2 miles (48 minutes) from Seattle
Lace up your trusty hiking boots for this challenging trail. The 4.7-mile route to reach Mailbox Peak Summit is fairly steep, with an elevation gain of 4,000 feet. The trail has multiple switchbacks, but the most demanding stretch is the last half mile, with a 960-foot elevation gain. Once you reach Mailbox Peak, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Mount Rainier and Middle Fork Valley. There is also an actual mailbox at the summit, where you can register the accomplishment of your hike.
39.6 miles (53 minutes) from Seattle
The Mount Si Trail is a strenuous hike, gaining 3,100 feet in just under four miles, but extremely rewarding, offering unmatched views of Snoqualmie Valley at the top. The ascent begins almost immediately, with plenty of switchbacks along the way. Most people will stop at the end of the trail. Climbers experienced with scrambling may consider continuing to the true summit, the Haystack, for stunning panoramic views of the valley. Be warned that this is a tricky scramble and not recommended for novices.
47.1 miles (1 hour) from Seattle
Those who enjoy visiting multiple scenic destinations during their hike will appreciate the Wallace Falls Lake Loop Trail. During this 9-mile hike, you’ll gain 1,544 feet as you pass the Wallace River, enjoy views of Snohomish Valley, hike from the bottom to the top of Wallace Falls, walk alongside Wallace Lake and, to finish the loop, you’ll head downhill back along the river. There are multiple spots along the trail for picnicking, so pack a lunch or snacks and plenty of water.
52 miles (1 hour) from Seattle
The Kendall Katwalk Trail is 12 miles roundtrip and recommended for experienced hikers who want to conquer a challenging route. It’s best known for the Kendall Katwalk, the most narrow part of the trail that hugs the rock face for 150 yards, and the beautiful views it affords of Gold Creek Valley and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Be prepared for a few stream crossings along the way by bringing trekking poles, waterproof bags for your electronics and shorts, socks and sneakers to change into if you don’t want to get your hiking clothes and boots wet.
51.2 miles (1 hour) from Seattle
The one-mile hike to Franklin Falls is perfect for beginners and families looking for a nice excursion that won’t be tough for kids. The trail is well maintained and has a gradual elevation gain of just 400 feet. You can get up close to the falls if you wish — just be careful of slippery rocks during times of heavier water flow. The trail is open in the winter as well, welcoming visitors for a memorable experience of seeing the icicles that form on the falls.
62 miles (1 hour and 35 minutes) from Seattle
This trail in Mount Pilchuck State Park is the furthest to reach by car from Seattle, but it is well worth the drive and subsequent hike. The route is considered moderate/hard at 5.4 miles roundtrip and an elevation gain of 2,300 feet. You will be literally above the clouds at the summit. Hikers are welcome to go to the historic fire lookout, which is perched on large boulders at the top of the mountain, and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view that Mount Pilchuck is known for. You’ll be able to see Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker and the Olypmic mountains from the lookout.
Depending on where your hiking adventure takes you, you may need a Discover Pass to access state parks and other nature areas in Washington. Plan out where you’d like to hike so you know in advance whether you’ll need to buy a pass. There are more than 10 free-admission days throughout the year, so you may be able to visit without needing the pass.
Whenever you go hiking, bring a backpack with plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and bug spray. Of course, with all the beautiful views you’ll encounter on these trails, you’ll want a fully charged camera or smartphone. Pack a portable charger for your phone just in case — you don’t want GPS tracking to kill your battery. You may spot some wildlife on the trails too: Be sure to keep a distance and never offer food.