Getting Out in Seattle - Top 10 Trails
Ten trails for hikers or runners that show off the lush forests and rocky summits surrounding Seattle...
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Verdant forests, pristine alpine lakes, jagged peaks, and water in almost every direction; the stunning geography of the Pacific Northwest lends itself to a wide variety of hikes within easy access from Seattle. Narrow down the options with our guide to the 10 day-trip worthy trails from the city.
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Seattle’s largest and most beloved park, Discovery Park is proof that you don’t need to leave the city limits to spend quality time outside. The 2.8-mile Discovery Park Loop travels through forests and meadows, and past bluffs that look out onto extraordinary views of Mount Rainier and the Olympics across the waters of Puget Sound. It’s worth extending the journey by taking the trail down to the beach where you can stroll along the shores or picnic near the lighthouse.
•Roundtrip Distance: 2.8mi // Elevation Gain: 140ft
The Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is a forested gem nestled in the “Issaquah Alps.” A 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle allows runners and hikers quick access to the park’s network of trails, totaling 36 miles that meander through mosses, ferns, and conifers, and covers plenty of ground to provide variety for repeat visitors.
•Roundtrip Distance: Distances Vary // Elevation Gain: Elevation Varies
Located on the flanks of Tiger Mountain (Cougar Mountain’s neighbor), Poo-Poo Point is another easily accessible and undeniably scenic jaunt. The route is 7.2 miles round-trip with 1,858 feet of elevation gain to the top, where you’ll be treated to views of the Issaquah Valley, Lake Sammamish, and the Cascades. On a calm day, you may even get to see paragliders soar off from the launch pad.
•Roundtrip Distance: 7.2mi // Elevation Gain: 1,858ft
Mount Si is a testament to the grit of Seattle-area hikers. Despite the trek’s more strenuous nature—ascending 3,150 feet over four miles—Si’s summit is the most popular hiking destination in Washington. It’s not hard to see why the trail is so popular; after winding through verdant Pacific Northwest forests and meadows, bursting with wildflowers in the spring, it delivers you to a steep scramble to the top, surrounded by views of the Olympic Mountains and Seattle.
•Roundtrip Distance: 7.6mi // Elevation Gain: 3,150ft
Like Mount Si, Rattlesnake Ledge is another popular hike in the I-90 corridor that extends east of Seattle. The trail also offers some climbing: 1,160 feet over two miles. The endpoint is a large, open rocky area on the east ridge of Rattlesnake Mountain that offers stunning vistas in all directions.
•Roundtrip Distance: 4mi // Elevation Gain: 1,160ft
The quintessential summit picnic spot: on a clear day hikers are treated to impressive panoramic views from Mount Pilchuk’s summit. Located off of the Mountain Loop Highway north of Seattle, the 5.4-mile round-trip hike ascends 2,300 feet.
•Roundtrip Distance: 5.4mi // Elevation Gain: 2,300ft
Boulder River Trail
Bagging summits is certainly satisfying, but there’s something to be said for trails where you can enjoy being outside without feeling like you’re spending the day on a nature-made StairMaster. The 8.6-mile round-trip Boulder River Trail hike rides a low-grade the entirety of its course and sits at a lower elevation, making it relatively snow-free year round and great for a winter excursion. The trail travels along the Boulder River, through serene old growth forests and past gushing waterfalls.
•Roundtrip Distance: 8.6mi // Elevation Gain: 700ft
The Enchantments is one of the most legendary wilderness areas in the Pacific Northwest—and the hike to Colchuck Lake is one of the most accessible journeys you can take within it. The destination for this 8-mile round-trip hike is a stunning aquamarine alpine lake sitting beneath rocky granite spires. But venture out with caution: Many outdoor enthusiasts describe Colchuck Lake as a “gateway hike” that may have you yearning for The Enchantments every time you lace up your hiking boots.
•Roundtrip Distance: 8mi // Elevation Gain: 2,280ft
On a clear day in Seattle, the Olympic Mountains seemingly rising out of the waters of Puget Sound is one of the defining features of the city’s skyline. The hike up Mount Townsend is one of the best ways to actually explore the range up close. The 8-mile round-trip hike climbs 3,000 feet over 30 switchbacks to a panorama featuring the Salish Sea, the Hood Canal, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and surrounding peaks.
•Roundtrip Distance: 8mi // Elevation Gain: 3,010ft
Mount Ellinor (Mount Townsend’s southern neighbor) is another Olympic Peak to tempt adventurers over to the other side of Puget Sound. Many compare this hike to the one up Mount Si: gaining 3,300 feet over about three miles to the 5,944-foot summit, it’s another steep hill that is perfect for working up to grander summits. While very popular, its distance from the city (approximately 115 miles from downtown) can help minimize crowds, compared to those on Mount Si. With people, that is—Ellinor is a famous hangout for mountain goats.
•Roundtrip Distance: 6.2mi // Elevation Gain: 3,300ft
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Originally written for La Sportiva by RootsRated.
Preview & Photo 1: ©La Sportiva
Photos 3,5-6: ©RootsRated
Photos 2, 4: ©Paige Jensen
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