There are many things that make Seattle unique, but one of the top-cited reasons for living in this Pacific Northwest city is its proximity to nature—and hundreds of amazing hikes for every skill level, inside and outside the city limits.
Traveling without a car? No problem—Seattle is filled with serene nature parks and trails to escape the urban feel in a matter of minutes. Looking for more of a challenge, and have access to a vehicle? Head east of the city and be greeted by some of the most fantastic hikes in the Pacific Northwest, featuring amazing views of surrounding forests and mountain ranges.
From low-intensity park loops right in the city to more advanced forest trails that will have even the most experienced hikers grabbing for their water bottles, here are some of the best hikes near Seattle.
Hikes in Seattle
Stretch your legs and try one of these great hikes right in the city—perfect for kids and dogs!
Discovery Park Loop Trail
Discovery Park Loop Trail is set in the Magnolia neighborhood, right on the glorious Puget Sound. Historically known as Fort Lawton, this absolutely picturesque park houses miles of trails. The Loop Trail weaves through lush, moss-covered forests and open meadows bursting with seasonal bright wildflowers. With a mere 140 feet elevation change and just 2.8 miles all the way around, this trail is perfect for the entire family. Don’t forget your camera to capture the majestic views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges on clear days!
As one of West Seattle’s hidden gems, Camp Long will wow adventurers from the very first step out of the car. Although there is much more to do than simply hike (like rock climbing and ropes courses), you’ll be drawn into the enchanted forests to explore the old growth of the maple, cedar, alder, and birch trees surrounding the visitor’s center. The great part is that since this quaint park is only 68 acres, each of the loop trails is less than one mile, making it a great quick hike in between outings, or a fun place for the kids and dogs to explore and breathe in fresh air.
Nestled between 3rd Avenue and Puget Sound, Carkeek Park and its majestic trail around Piper’s Creek is one you won’t want to miss. The beginning of the 3.5-mile loop makes a nice descent on switchbacks to bring you down to the trickle of water on Piper’s Creek. But don’t worry if the creek looks disappointing at the beginning; as you continue on through the tree-laden canyon, the creek quickly fills and becomes a wide stream flowing with sparkling ripples. There are multiple access points to the trail, including from Viewlands Elementary School, but Carkeek Park does offer a convenient parking area if you’re driving in.
Hikes Near Seattle
For avid hikers yearning to get in a heart-pumping workout, try some of these beautiful hikes a little further from town. Just trust us when we say the drive out is well worth it!
Poo Poo Point
Ever seen paragliders swirling their way down while driving along I-90 in Issaquah? Located on a small point off Tiger Mountain, just 19 miles from Seattle, Poo Poo Point was created by loggers in the 1970s and named after the sound of a steam whistle. A small parking lot is located off Issaquah-Hobart Road, just off I-90 (Front Street Exit) and it does fill quickly, but there is extra space along the main road to park if you can’t find a spot.
The trail begins by walking across the large field where paragliders land, so stick around the lot before or after your hike and watch their decent! As you enter the thick forest and begin your ascent along stone stairs, let the magic of the mountain sink in. The sun disappears as the trees thicken, but can be seen peeking through as you gain elevation. Make sure you pace yourself and bring water and snacks, as you’ll gain 1,760 feet and hike 3.8 miles total.
You’ll hear the roar of water before you see it at the awe-inspiring Snoqualmie Falls. Located 28 miles from Seattle, you won’t want to miss this absolutely captivating waterfall. Although you can walk to the upper overlook area to feel the spray and snap pictures of the 286-foot cascade, the views from the lower viewpoint are even more magnificent. The trail begins with a steep descent for almost half a mile, then levels off and follows the boardwalk along the river. As you make your way to the curtain of spray crashing against the rocks, watch for flora and fauna, especially in the fall when the colors change to warm hues of red and yellows.
Easily one of the most famous hikes near Seattle and not for the faint of heart, Mailbox Peak is a rigorous 9.4-mile roundtrip hike, gaining 4,000 feet in elevation to the emblematic mailbox and breathtaking panoramic views of snow-capped Rainier and Middle Fork Valley. Keep in mind that although a new upper lot was opened along with the new, safer trail, both lots still fill quickly, so get here early to ensure a good parking spot for the invigorating workout and rewarding views ahead.
Article written by Paige Kenyon | Featured photo courtesy of Jake Ingle
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