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10 Best Day Hikes near Seattle, WA – Hiking Trails Guide

best hiking trails near seattle

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” — John Muir

We love seeing the city surrounded by national parks and national forests, and it’s no wonder why Seattle has become a haven for hikers.

One of Seattle’s greatest appeals is the city’s close proximity to a number of remarkable hiking trails.

The city sits right up against the front door of the Cascade Mountain Range.

Hiking and outdoor enthusiasts have access to over 4,000 miles of trails no more than a two-hour drive from the city.

Offering a wide variety of good hikes, short and long, gradual or steep, Seattle has a trail for every occasion.

Boasting snow-capped peaks, sweeping vistas, enchanting waterfalls, ancient trees, and even a temperate rainforest, there is no chance you won’t be able to find scenic hikes with a view. 

Stay with us as we take a deeper look into the 10 best hikes near Seattle, Washington, and what kind of hiking trails Emerald City has to offer.

10Little Si – North Bend

hiking little si trail

9Pete Lake – Located near Cle Elum

Pete Lake Hiking Trail

8Mount Pilchuck – Mountain Loop Highway

Mount Pilchuck hike
Courtesy of David Grant @ Flickr
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
  • Length: 5.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,120 ft

The Mount Pilchuck trail is only a two-hour drive from Seattle and we believe here is the most remarkable fire lookout in the state of Washington.

You will find the starting point of the hike at the parking lot’s north end. It is made visible with a big sign and trail map.

The trail is moderately steep from the get-go, so most travelers will want to wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots and hiking braces to support their knees.

It plows through sections of serene forest and boulder fields right up until the end.

Near the peak, you’ll be able to boulder-hop your way to the fire lookout which is unlocked most of the year.

Once at the lookout, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the rugged snow-capped mountain tops of the North Cascades.

If you get there towards the end of the day, you may just have the chance to witness one of the longest, most captivating sunsets that Washington has to offer. 

7Staircase Rapids Loop – Olympic Peninsula 

Staircase Rapids Hiking Trail
Courtesy of Nickay3111 @ Flickr
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 574 ft

Due to their location in the mountains, many of the best hikes outside of Seattle aren’t accessible during the winter.

This is something that makes the Staircase Rapids Loop trail especially versatile; it is a fantastic winter hike.

The trailhead is situated about a two and half hour’s drive from the city, depending on traffic.

If you do end up hiking during the winter, this trail can be muddy so consider bringing a pair of hiking boots.

The trail’s starting point is located on the west side of the Ranger Station. The trail is well-signed to make your trip as easy as possible.

Enjoy the meandering path along the Skokomish River and the vistas of 800-hundred-year-old Sitka spruce and Douglas fir trees.

Eventually, you’ll come to a remarkable suspension bridge overlooking the crystal blue glacial water from up the mountains.

Once on the other side of the river, follow the trail back downstream to return to the parking area at the Ranger Station. 

6Franklin Falls – Snoqualmie Pass

Franklin Falls Hike
Courtesy of Wildcat Dunny @ Flickr
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 ft

One of the most magical waterfalls in the state is located right off of Interstate 90, a few miles west of Snoqualmie Pass.

Because of its access from the Interstate, Franklin Falls Trail is one of the most heavily trafficked hikes near Seattle.

It’s only a forty-minute drive from the city and the gentle slope of the trail makes it a year-round tourist destination.

You will see the starting point on the far side of the parking lot, right by an old Forest Service log cabin.

The trail follows the South fork of the Snoqualmie River and can often be muddy or even snow-covered during the winter.

We recommend using good-quality hiking microspikes as the trail gets very slippery and you may injure yourself.

The trail ends suddenly at the bottom of Franklin Falls, a spectacular, 70-foot-tall waterfall.

When hiked during the hot summer months, standing under the falls clouds of mist can be a truly magical experience. 

5Rattlesnake Ledge – North Bend

Rattlesnake Ledge hiking trail
Courtesy of Steve Cyr @ Flickr
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,160 ft

Located on the other side of the Snoqualmie valley from Little Si, sits Rattlesnake Ledge, a short yet steep hiking trail.

Despite its name, you won’t have to worry about any rattlesnake encounters while climbing up the ridgeline. The climate is far too wet for their liking.

The parking lot is right underneath the ledge you’ll be facing which gives you a chance to size up your opponent before hitting the trail.

The starting point is located on the north end of the parking lot, right by the Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area.

The hike itself keeps a moderate grade until the very end when the incline steepens.

Once at the top, enjoy incredible vistas of the Cascade Mountains and Rattlesnake Lake nearly 1,500 feet below you.

If you brought compact binoculars, keep an eye out because you just might have the chance to see an American Eagle or Osprey dive for fish in the lake.

4Twin Falls – North Bend 

Twin Falls Hike
Courtesy of Shutterbug Fotos @ Flickr
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft 

Just down the road from Rattlesnake Ledge is another of Washington’s breathtaking waterfalls.

Twin Falls hike is another heavily trafficked hiking trail close to Seattle where parking can be tough to find.

Unfortunately, we didn’t find a parking spot so consider getting there earlier in the day to get a better spot.

You will find the starting point at the south end of the parking lot. It is well-signed with a big trail map. The trail begins at an easy incline, following the streambed up a tight valley.

Mossy fir trees and thick ferns form the borders of your path as you begin your ascent. Climb a few stairs and switchbacks before arriving at the first viewing platform of the falls.

The first waterfall is over one hundred feet tall and plummets into a blue pool below. If you’re lucky, you might see a river otter or two hunting for fish in and around the pool.

There are a series of cascading falls and platforms where you can view them safely if you continue on up the trail. 

3Chain Lakes Loop – North Cascades

Chain Lakes Loop hiking trail

2Bridal Veil Falls – Stevens Pass

Bridal Veil Falls Hiking Trail

1Lake 22 – Mountain Loop Highway

hiking lake 22
Courtesy of Mike @ Flickr
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,350 ft

Situated around two hours from downtown Seattle, this interestingly named – Lake 22 hiking trail is Washington’s quintessential alpine lake.

The starting point is located at the east end of the parking lot beside the bathroom.

The hike begins under the northern shoulder of a shadowing Mount Pilchuck as you set out on a waterlogged path up through the forest.

Water is a common theme throughout the entirety of the trail so bringing a pair of waterproof hiking boots isn’t the worst idea.

Eventually, you will pass through a boulder field and on up to the lake where you get the chance to marvel once again at the sheer northern face of Mount Pilchuck.

Even on the cloudiest days, you can see a crystal-clear reflection of the surrounding mountain and trees on the lake’s glassy surface.

No matter the occasion, Washington has the hike to match it. Most hikes near Seattle can be done during any time of the year.

There is an endless list of mountains to climb and forests to conquer.

What are you waiting for? Take your rucksack and go hiking!