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Seattle is one of those cities that attracts outdoor lovers from all over the US, and for good reason: it’s surrounded by waterways and mountains and beautiful nature. Hiking in Seattle is one of the best ways to explore outdoors without spending a ton of money or time. Trust us – the hikes in Seattle are some of the best in the country, spanning rainforests, coastlines, mountains, and more. We’ll admit it: this guide was exceptionally difficult to write because there are literally hundreds of incredible places to go hiking near Seattle. However, we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of spectacular hikes near Seattle for all levels of hikers so you can plan your next adventure!

Easy Hikes in Seattle

Picture Lake Path

  • Trail Length: 0.4 miles
  • Location: Mount Baker National Forest

While barely a hike at just 0.4 miles of trail, the Picture Lake Path is one you absolutely have to do at least once if your life. Yes, there are longer and closer hikes in Seattle, but this easy trail boasts an iconic view of Mount Baker that will take your breath away. A short, easy stroll will take you around Picture Lake to the viewpoint above – we’d recommend going in the morning or evening to get the most stunning view (with the smallest crowds. At over 2.5 hours from the city, it’s not necessarily the most convenient to get to, but you can combine the trip with other hikes in the Mount Baker area for a solid day trip from Seattle.

Ebey’s Landing

  • Trail Length: 5.2 miles
  • Location: Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

One of the most unique aspects of Seattle is its proximity to the sea, and Ebey’s Landing is a fantastic easy trail to explore the coastline. This is one of the best hikes near Seattle to experience the Puget Sound’s vast beauty, with views overlooking the water and surrounding farmlands. Located on a bluff bordering the water, it’s an easy and long trail that gives visitors a serene space to admire the horizon and the countryside. People especially love this trail because of the sweeping views and its accessibility for families and beginners.

Photo Credit: Ashlyn G (Flickr CC)

Grove of the Patriarchs

  • Trail Length: 1.2 miles
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park

As one of the most family-friendly spots for hiking in Seattle and the surrounding areas, Grove of the Patriarchs is a short and sweet trail that winds through the dense Douglas fir forests of Mount Rainier National Park. The trees here are exceptional, some dating back hundreds of years, and the park has accessible boardwalks and bridges through the area so visitors can see some of the most interesting sights.

Photo Credit: Mattia Panciroli (Flickr CC)

Ruby Beach

  • Trail Length: 1.4 miles
  • Location: Olympic National Park

When we say hiking in Seattle is diverse, we really mean it! The trail at Ruby Beach is a great example of this, taking hikers of all levels through a scenic area that blends pine forests, craggy rock formations, and the seaside in one beautiful, breathtaking place. Along the trail, you’ll find warped driftwood branches, lots of pebbles, and foggy views of the nearby rock formations and islands off the coast.

While this trail is short, it’s an absolutely spectacular place for any hiker to be spellbound by the beauty of nature. It can also be paired with any of the other hikes in Olympic National Park for an incredible day trip or weekend getaway.

Photo Credit: W. Tipton (Flickr CC)

Hall of Mosses Trail

  • Trail Length: 1.1 miles
  • Location: Olympic National Park

If you’re ready for some more variety after visiting Ruby Beach, you can head to the Hall of Mosses Trail, which runs through a literal rainforest. That’s right, you can pair a beach stroll with a rainforest adventure all in the same day, at the same park. The Hall of Mosses is known for its lush, tropical plant life, especially the moss-covered trees that line the trails. On this trail, hikers of all levels can find a beautiful tree canopy that’s often laced with fog. There are also plenty of eerie plants, making it great for kids (or adults) who want to let their imaginations run wild.

Coal Creek Falls

  • Trail Length: 2.1 miles
  • Location: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

Our list of easy hikes near Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a waterfall hike, and Coal Creek Falls is a fantastic one to start with. Located in a mostly forested area, the trail runs through a lush, tree lined area and culminates at the beautiful Coal Creek Falls. It’s an easy hike, so it’s great for families or beginners wanting a forest adventure with some great photo opportunities. People especially enjoy this hike for children, as the variety in terrain, many bridge crossings, and the beautiful waterfalls are a great way to get them excited about the outdoors.

Photo Credit: Michael Matti (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes in Seattle

Rattlesnake Ledge

  • Trail Length: 5.1 miles
  • Location: Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area

**Unfortunately, this trail is temporarily closed due to current unforeseen circumstances. You can check the latest status of the trails in Rattlesnake Mountain Scenic Area here.**

At less than an hour from Seattle, Rattlesnake Ledge is one of the most accessible hikes from the city. It’s also one of the most beautiful and popular, with views around the surrounding mountains and down into the valleys below. Because of its proximity and popularity, this trail can get extremely crowded, especially in the high season. Go early or on weekdays for the best and least crowded hiking experience.

Snow Lake

  • Trail Length: 6.4 miles
  • Location: Mount Baker Snowqualmie National Forest

Snow Lake is one of the most spectacular hikes in Seattle, as the views here are absolutely breathtaking almost the entire way. Evergreen forests surround rocky trails, providing a challenge with jaw-dropping rewards. The beginning of the hike runs through the woods, where you can see small streams and rocky outcroppings. Then, towards the end, you’ll arrive at Snow Lake, which is a super scenic area that’s surrounded by mountains. For hikers wanting a moderately difficult trail with some seriously unique photo opportunities, Snow Lake is one we’d strongly recommend.

Photo Credit: JH Moyer (Flickr CC)

Wallace Falls

  • Trail Length: 5.9 miles
  • Location: Wallace Falls State Park

One of our favorite hikes in Seattle is Wallace Falls, which brings hikers up a pretty steep incline to some raging, towering waterfalls that drop 367 feet. Picturesque wooden boardwalks wind through the lush, mossy rainforest to arrive at the falls. Get ready for a workout, because this hike requires over 1,200 feet in elevation gain to get to the falls. In the summer, hikers can take a dip in the pools, making for a luxurious treat after a serious sweat session.

Photo Credit: Andrew E. Larsen (Flickr CC)

Poo Poo Point

  • Trail Length: 7.2 miles
  • Location: Tiger Mountain State Forest

Named after an odd and seemingly misplaced toilet landmark at its summit, Poo Poo Point might sound like a strange hike to try. However, stunning views of Mount Rainier on clear days and a fun challenge make this trail one of the most beloved hikes in Seattle. Don’t be fooled – the beginning of the trail seems like an easy incline, but the more you hike, the steeper it gets. This is one of the most popular places for hiking in Seattle, so be sure to plan ahead and start early if you’d like to avoid the crowds.

Comet Falls

  • Trail Length: 4.3 miles
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park

If you haven’t noticed, waterfall hikes are abundant in the Seattle area, and there are several that are moderately difficult and perfect for hikers wanting a bit of a challenge. Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park is one such hike. If you choose to tackle this hike, prepare for rocky terrain, lots of stairs and steep ascents, and potentially slippery conditions. Trekking poles are strongly advised as well. The end will reward you with a 380-foot waterfall that’s incredible awe-inspiring.

Photo Credit: Brooke Hoyer (Flickr CC)

Twin Falls

  • Trail Length: 3.6 miles
  • Location: Olallie State Park

Another of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle is Twin Falls, a beautiful set of waterfalls located in Olallie State Park. This short but steep hike will definitely give even experienced hikers a run for their money, but the views at the end of the powerful waterfalls will send chills down your spine. Note that this trail can be extremely slippery, so trekking poles and solid hiking boots are strongly recommended.

Skyline Trail

  • Trail Length: 5.9 miles
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park

If you’re an experienced hiker who hasn’t done the Skyline Trail yet, it’s time to plan your trip out here! This is one of the most spectacular hikes near Seattle, offering jaw-dropping mountain vistas of Mount Rainier National Park. The Skyline Trail passes through evergreen forests, across cool creeks, past waterfalls, and above the treeline to show off the beauty of this area. Locals really, really love this trail, citing the captivating scenery, the trail difficulty and challenge level, and good upkeep as some of their favorite things about hiking the Skyline.

Photo Credit: Michael B. (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes near Seattle

Mount Si

  • Trail Length: 7.9 miles
  • Location: Mount Si Conservation Area

Experienced hikers will love the challenge and thrill of getting above the clouds on Mount Si, one of the most scenic areas for hiking near Seattle. This challenging hike is one of the more popular hikes on our list, but for good reason – it’s got some of the most beautiful views of the Cascade Mountains in the entire Seattle area. This hike is not for beginners or the faint of heart, as it requires climbing some steep inclines over 2,000 feet to the summit, as well as a little bit of scrambling/climbing.

Photo Credit: Sean Munson (Flickr CC)

Mailbox Peak

  • Trail Length: 7.8 miles
  • Location: Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area

Named after the solitary mailbox stationed at its summit, Mailbox Peak is one of the hardest and most visually incredible hikes in the entire Seattle area. Steep ascents and scrambling are the name of the game here, but those who stick with the trail to the top will be reward with sweeping views of the Cascades, including Mount Si, as well as a chance to see the iconic namesake mailbox. On clear days, you can even see out to Mount Rainier!

Many hikers strongly recommend micro spikes for this trail, as it can get icy and slippery towards the top, even in the spring.

Photo Credit: Ham Hock (Flickr CC)

Mount Pilchuck

  • Trail Length: 6 miles
  • Location: Mount Pilchuck State Park

Formerly used as a trail to get up to a fire lookout tower, the Mount Pilchuck trail is one of the coolest and most challenging hikes near Seattle. This difficult trail is for experienced hikers only, as there’s quite a bit of technical hiking required to get up to the summit. With an elevation gain of 2,125 over 3 miles, you’ll definitely break a sweat to get up there! However, once you arrive at the top, you can actually explore the historic fire tower for yourself, which offers some of the most magical views from Mount Rainier and Mount Baker all the way to the Puget Sound.

Mt. Rainier Summit

  • Trail Length: 14.7 miles
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park

**NOTE: This is a serious, multi-day summit hike that requires ample prior experience and training before you attempt it. Many people opt to go with an experienced guide and group like this one, which is what we would recommend if you are new to multi-day technical hikes or plan to hike alone.

The Mt. Rainier Summit hike is neither a day hike nor a hike for all levels, but we figured we’d put it on here as it’s a hiking experience of a lifetime that’s accessible from the Seattle area. Requiring experience in high alpine and glacier hiking, as well as crevasse rescue knowledge, this hike is absolutely not for beginners or less experienced hikers. However, the opportunity to summit Washington’s iconic peak is certainly one worth writing home about.

With an elevation gain of nearly 9,000 feet, as well as two overnight stays at camps along the mountainside, this hike is best done with an experienced group or a tour. However, once you plan and figure out the logistics, some of the most majestic and captivating views of the Pacific Northwest await.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Seattle

What to Bring Hiking in Seattle

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

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