Best Hikes near Seattle Washington

The Evergreen State of Washington is a hiker’s paradise with enormous hiking trails that are filled with mossy trees, snowcapped mountain peaks and pristine lakes.  If you are visiting Seattle, then you must take a hike either short or long to experience what all Pacific Northwest is about.  Walk among the pine trees, the smell of fresh mountain air, view of mountain ranges, snowcapped peaks will make you aware and appreciate this beautiful state.

If you are a beginner, I would recommend sticking to easy and moderate hikes. And if you are an experienced hiker with good health then you must try out the difficult trails.

Best Hikes Near Seattle Washington

Don’t forget to grab your Hiking boots, rain gear and other hiking essentials. It’s the Pacific Northwest, rain is inevitable. Walking in tennis shoes is comfortable but you don’t want your socks to get wet and feet cold for the rest of the hiking day.

Hiking Essentials that I always carry :

  • Hiking Backpack
  • Hiking Poles
  • Head Lamp
  • Safety Kit
  • Navigation: GPS device, map, compass.
  • Sun protection
  • Lip Balm
  • Extra Food
  • Extra Water
  • Extra Layers
  • Yaktrax (depending on winter conditions)
  • Microspikes (depending on winter conditions)

Best Hiking trails near Seattle

Selecting the trail can be overwhelming because there are thousands to choose from.  I have compiled a list of trails that are at the one-hour drive from Seattle on Interstate -90. If you are visiting on the weekend be sure to start early to avoid more time in traffic as Seattle crowd loves to get outdoors. Also, some of the trail parking lots get fully packed in the morning hours.

Snoqualmie Falls

Distance: 1.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 250 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Parking Pass/Fees: Free Parking at Upper and Lower Parking lot.

Snoqualmie Falls Best Hikes near Seattle
Snoqualmie Falls from Upper Viewpoint
Snoqualmie Falls - Lower Falls Viewpoint Best Hikes near Seattle
Snoqualmie Falls – Lower Viewpoint

The Waterfall famous for opening credits of David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks (1990-1991) is real.  The Snoqualmie Falls are 268 feet high, nearly 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls.   Snoqualmie Falls is one of Washington State’s most popular scenic attractions that can be reached in 40 minutes from downtown Seattle.

More than 1.5 million visitors come to the see and feel the Falls every year. Falls can be viewed from the upper falls viewpoint and the lower falls viewpoint deck. To reach the bottom to see the falls from a lower viewpoint, there is a small trail that is 0.7 miles down. 

The trail is easy and can be done with family and kids of all ages.  This is an easy and educational hike for kids that gives them the opportunity to learn about various native vegetation, forest growth, and hydroelectric power.

To get there: From Seattle, head east on I-90. Take exit 22 for Preston. Cross over the freeway and turn right onto SE High point Way/Preston Fall City Road. Follow on 1.5 miles, reaching the traffic circle after crossing the Snoqualmie River. Turn right at the circle onto SR-202 East, continue for 4.0 miles and you reach parking area on the right side of the road.

Franklin Falls

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Parking Pass/Fees: Northwest Forest Pass/America the Beautiful

Franklin Falls trail -Best Hikes near Seattle
Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls trail is a best family-friendly hiking trail.  It is an easy day hike that is perfect for beginners, families with children and old grandparents.  The trail goes parallel with the Snoqualmie river on the side with a thick canopy of coniferous trees throughout the trail towards the viewpoint. 

It is a short one-mile hike with 400-foot elevation gain with wooden bridges and little incline rock steps near the roaring falls. The falls produce heavy spray during all the seasons, so if you are planning to go near the falls, do bring rain gear to avoid getting wet.

Franklin Falls trail is famous among Seattle locals all year round may it be Summer, Spring or Winter.  When Mother Nature permits, the Franklin Falls get frozen in winter making it extremely popular for white wonderland snow hiking.

Frozen Franklin Falls - Best Hikes near Seattle
Frozen Franklin Falls

To get there: From Seattle, head east on I-90. Take exit 47 Denny Creek/Tinkham Road. Drive half a mile past the Denny Creek Campground there is a large paved parking lot.

Rattlesnake Ledge

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,160 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking Pass/Fees: None

Rattlesnake Ledge trail -Best Hikes near Seattle
Standing on Rattlesnake Lake Ledge
Rattlesnake Lake -Best Hikes near Seattle
Rattlesnake Lake

This is the most popular hiking trail in the North Bend area that gets usually crowded at weekends and on holidays. The trail climbs through secondary growth forest for 2 miles to a rocky ledge overlooking to Rattlesnake Lake. The views at the top are incredibly beautiful.  You get to see the spectacular views of Cedar River Watershed, Chester Morse Lake, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake, and Snoqualmie Valley.

The ledge is exposed with large rocks with the sheer cliff. Extra caution needs to be followed when hiking with kids or pets.  The Rattlesnake lake at the bottom of the trail is stunning so be sure to check and walk around the lake before or after the hike.

You can extend your hike little ahead from the junction up to Middle Ledge and Upper Ledge which are usually much quieter and gives more sweeping views of Rattlesnake Lake and Snoqualmie Valley. Also you get to look down on the crowds at Rattlesnake Ledge.

View from Middle Ledge-Rattlesnake Lake Ledge trail - Best Hikes Near Seattle
View from Middle Ledge-Rattlesnake Lake Ledge trail

To get there: Take the I-90 east to exit 32 for 436th Avenue SE. Turn right onto 436th avenue SE which is also known as Cedar Falls Road. Drive for about four miles down the road to the Rattlesnake Lake Parking Lot on the right.

Mount Si

Distance: 8 miles Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3,150 feet
Difficulty: Challenging
Parking Pass/Fees: Discover Pass

Mount Si -Best Hikes near Seattle
Mount Si

Mount Si is the popular challenging hiking trail among Seattle locals and expect the trail to be very busy. The trail gains more than 3,150 feet in four miles an uphill climb with many switchbacks. The Mount Si Trail initially climbs for 1.5 miles before reaching the Snag Flat, a flat area with old-growth trees that’s miraculously managed to survive the fire.

The trail ahead gains elevation and on reaching the last mile it becomes steep and rocky. On the top, This trail rewards with amazing views of Mt Rainier, Seattle, the Olympic Mountains and Snoqualmie valley with Interstate-90.

To get there: Take the I-90 to exit 32 and turn left onto 436th Avenue SE. Follow 436th to the end and take a left. You will come to Mt Si road where you will need to turn right. Follow for two miles and the trailhead will be on the left.

Mount Si - Best Hikes near Seattle
View of Interstate 90 from Mount Si

Little Si

Distance: 3.7 Miles Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
Difficulty: Medium
Parking Pass/Fees: Discover Pass

Rock Climbers Climbing the Little Si - Best Hikes near Seattle
Rock Climbers Climbing the Little Si
Little Si - Best Hikes near Seattle
Green dense forest at Little Si

Little Si also is known as the little brother of Mount Si. Little Si trail is much shorter than Mount Si. This hiking trail has 1300 feet elevation gain and 3.7 miles round trip.  The trail is easy to moderate with a steep incline towards the end of the trail.

The trail goes through a forest with some rocky sections. The views are not as prominent as Mount Si, but you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the surrounding valley and Mount Si from the top viewpoint.

To get there:  From Seattle, head towards I-90 East, take exit 32 and turn left on 436th Ave SE. Head 0.5 miles on 436 Ave SE and take a left on SE North Bend Way. Proceed 0.3 miles and turn right on SE Mount Si Road. The main parking lot for Little Si will be 0.4 miles on your left as the road straightens out after the bend.

Mailbox Peak – Old trail

Distance: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
Difficulty: Challenging
Parking Pass/Fees: Discover Pass

View of Snoqualmie Valley and I-90 from top of Boulder field -Best Hikes near Seattle
View of Snoqualmie Valley and I-90 from top of Boulder field

The Mailbox peak hike is the most famous hike among Seattle hikers in the North Bend area.  It is a strenuous day hike with an elevation gain of 4000 feet to the peak of the mountain where the Legendary Mailbox is placed.  Mailbox Peak is popular as a training hike for people planning to climb Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens or hike the Pacific Crest Trail

There are two trails to Mailbox Peak – the Old trail and the New trail.   The Old trail also known as Mailbox Peak Primitive Trail is more difficult with steep sections to reach the peak.   The Old trail has grueling 4000 feet elevation gain in 2.5 miles.  Due to the fact that many experienced as well as inexperienced hiker wanting to see the mailbox were getting lost or injured, the new trail was made to reach the summit of Mailbox peak steady rate with semi-steep incline and many switchbacks.

Mailbox Peak – New trail

Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
Difficulty: Challenging
Parking Pass/Fees: Discover Pass

Mailbox Peak -Best Hikes near Seattle
Mailbox Peak

The New trail to Mailbox peak does gain 4000 feet elevation but in 4.7 miles up one way to the Mailbox peak. The first part of the hike starts with little incline wide walking trail with green trees, wooden bridges, and stream crossings. Slowly the hike begins to pick up at a steady rate with semi-steep incline and many switchbacks.   

After hiking on the trail for about 4 miles, the New Trail eventually meets up the Old Trail and continue to the Boulder Field.  On reaching the top, the views of Granite, Bandera mountain and the distant view of Mount Rainier dominates the scenery.

View of Mount Rainier from Mailbox Peak Best Hikes near Seattle
View of Mount Rainier from Mailbox Peak

To get there: Take Exit 34 off Interstate -90. Drive North of 468th Ave SE for approx. 0.5 mile.  Turn Right on to SE Middle Fork Road and continue for 2.5 miles. Turn Right and drive approx. 800-900 feet to the Mailbox Peak Trail Head.

Twin Falls

Distance: 2.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking Pass/Fees: Discover Pass

Mossy trees on Twin Falls trail -Best Hikes near Seattle
Mossy trees on Twin Falls trail

The Twin Falls trail goes through thick forest in the bottom of the valley.  The trail takes through green lush surroundings with rivers, wildflowers, skunk cabbage. The walk over to the first hill is easy. You get to see the Lower Falls from the wooden benches on the first hill. Some visitors/hikers return from the first hill.  The best views of the falls are found on the second hill just a little further ahead.

After viewing the Lower Falls, Follow the stairs down to the Big Bridge for your first sight of the Upper Falls and a few cascades upstream. Continue past another slope and set of stairs for an even better viewpoint.

Wooden Bridge Over Twin Falls - Best Hikes near Seattle
Wooden Bridge Looking Over the Falls
Best Hikes Near Seattle- Twin Falls
Twin Falls

To get there:  Drive east on I-90, take exit 34. Turn right at the end of the exit ramp onto 468th Avenue SE and proceed a little more than half a mile to SE 159th Street. Turn left and continue another half mile where the road dead-ends in the Twin Falls parking lot.

Snow Lake

Distance: 7.2 Miles Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet.
Difficulty: Medium
Parking Pass/Fees: Northwest Forest Pass/America the Beautiful

Snow Lake -Best Hikes near Seattle
Snow Lake

Snow lake hike is most popular among hikers as it gives spectacular scenery view and experience of Alpine Lakes wilderness. The hike is easy to moderate with little steep climbs. The trail starts from a forest for roughly a mile then views of Chair Peak start emerging. You get the first sight of the lake on reaching the top of the mountain. The scenic hike continues down to the lake with steep mountain walls and waterfalls all around.  In winter, avalanche danger is extreme on the Snow Lake trail.

To get there: From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to exit 52, signed for Snoqualmie Pass West. Turn left (north), crossing under the freeway. Take the second right, traveling 1.3 miles to the end of the road at the Alpental Ski Area parking lot

Snow Lake -Best Hikes near Seattle
Snow Lake

Snoqualmie tunnel trail

Distance: 7.2 Miles Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet.
Difficulty: Medium
Parking Pass/Fees: Discover Pass/Automated Fees machine

Snoqualmie Tunnel Entrance gate Best Hikes near Seattle
Snoqualmie Tunnel Entrance gate

The Snoqualmie Tunnel is an abandoned railroad tunnel in the Cascade Range and is located in Iron Horse State Park. The trail starts by heading in the west from the parking lot on a wide gravel path toward a metal gate. The tunnel is 2.3 miles long. Even on a warm summer day, you would need a jacket inside the dark, cool and chilly tunnel.

The hike is straight forward on a gravel road with few potholes resulted from water dripping from the ceiling. You may even be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Headlamps, flashlights with extra batteries are recommended to carry while walking or hiking through this tunnel.  Once through the tunnel, the views on the other side of the tunnel are wonderful. The tunnel is also famous among bicyclists.

To get there: From Seattle head east on I-90 and take Exit 54. Take state route 906, look for the Iron Horse State Park sign. Proceed 0.5 miles and take a right at the sign for the Iron Horse State Park/Snoqualmie Tunnel.

Rear End of Snoqualmie Tunnel - Best Hikes near Seattle
Rear End of Snoqualmie Tunnel

Public Transportation to reach Trail heads: On Weekends and public holidays, to limit vehicle congestion in trail head parking lots, Trail head Direct bus takes riders to three hiking destinations – Mailbox Peak trail head, Mount Si, Little Si and Issaquah Alps.

Have you hiked any of these amazing trails? Do you have your favorite trail that you would like me to add here? Feel free to comment below

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Best Hikes Near Seattle Washington

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12 thoughts on “Best Hikes near Seattle Washington

  1. Fiona Mai

    Thank you for your very detailed post about the best hikes near Seattle Washington. I started my first hiking trips just last year and have only been able to cover medium trails. Thus, the one at Snow Lake seems most suitable to me and I especially love the scenic view of the Alpine Lakes. Mount Si looks amazing as well but I might need to train harder before I can start hiking there.

  2. Wow, I had no idea there were so many great trails near Seattle! The frozen waterfalls look incredible, that would definitely be a really cool winter hike. I also love the concept of the Mailbox Peak, it’s so cute that there’s an actual mailbox there! Rattlesnake Ledge sounds like a great hike to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the view is so pretty.

  3. Hiking in the US – now that’s a way to draw my immediate attention. I’ve seen great pictures of Washington; I think it’s underrated in terms of the views it can offer. After all the waterfalls I’ve seen, I’d love to make plans to see Snoqualmie Falls in person. 250 feet puts it on par with the tallest one I’ve seen in person – Tennessee’s Fall Creek Falls, which was unfortunately a shower when I went there. The other places look just as great, but Rattlesnake Ledge gave me fond memories of Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin, except the mountains you pictured are even more expansive. In all, I enjoyed every picture; if I didn’t live so far from Washington, it would definitely be the next item on my list.

  4. delacroixllc

    I’m heading to Seattle next week to do some hiking, so this is exactly the list I need! And my sister has the Discover Pass, so I’m glad that I can use that for so many of these parks! I never know the difficulty level for some of these hikes, so it’s super helpful to have your first hand accounts and to quickly focus in on the easy and medium ones.

  5. You’ve shot some amazing sceneries here, great work! I’ve never been to Washington state but its natural beauty seems to be extraordinaire. One more reason to “envy” people who’ve walked the PCT.

  6. Must be great to have so many hikes in the area. Mount Si sounds like a bit of a challenge, but I guess it’s rewarding once you get to the top. I’d love to see a frozen waterfall, that’s something I’ve never seen before and it must be so interesting. I’d love to hike around here some day so thanks for the comprehensive list.

  7. I’m so glad I discovered your guide! I live in Vancouver and drive down to Seattle lots. I won’t lie though, the typical Pike Place market visits are starting to get a little old so I would defs love to challenge some of these hikes. Franklin Falls looks spectacular during the winter time and so do the views at Rattlesnake Ledge. Can defs see why those two would be so popular!

  8. What a beautiful post highlighting these stunning hikes near Seattle. We often travel to Seattle and I would love to add some of these hikes to our itinerary for our next visit. The Franklin Falls trail looks stunning and it’s good to know that it’s family friendly. Thanks for the tip regarding rain gear if heading on this trail – that photograph of the frozen falls is spectacular. The Twin Falls trail looks like a must too for those who love to hike – it’s good to know that the best views of the falls are found on the second hill. I’d love to hike to the top of Mailbox Peak on a clear day for that view of Mount Rainier in the distance – totally worth the effort. Thanks for the informative post!

  9. Beautiful pictures! I was living in Seattle for a year and fell in love with the pristine beauty. There’s something about that sea breeze coming in. Most amazing summers .. EVER!

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