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Washington Trails

The Best Hikes Near Seattle for Every Kind of Hiker

Looking for a great dayhike, weekend trip, or multiday expedition near Seattle? We've got you covered.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Seattle is best known for three things: Coffee, tech companies, and outdoor recreation. Sandwiched between Puget Sound to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east, the city is only a couple hours from multiday treks along the Pacific Crest, beach wanders with a chance of whalespotting, and old-growth temperate rainforest that feels like the setting of a fantasy book. Is it any wonder REI and The Mountaineers both started here?

You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the hiking bounty here, though there are plenty of trails for you if you are. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or just visiting for the weekend, load up your daypack, swing by the coffeeshop, and check out these, our picks for the best hikes around Seattle.

Best Dayhikes Near Seattle

When you only have a day to get away, these hikes are your best bets. Pick between Cascade peaks and beachside views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains on these eight trails.

Best Dayhikes In the Cascades

Granite Mountain Lookout
Granite Mountain (Photo: Albert Sidelnik / 500px via Getty Images)

Granite Mountain

  • Length: 8.6 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 50 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Hard

 Once you reach the summit of Granite Mountain, you’ll never want to leave—and not just because your legs are burning from the 1,000-feet-per-mile elevation gain. The lookout at the top (first built in 1924, but replaced in 1955) is staffed by volunteers who sometimes give public tours during the summer, but you can get the views just as well outside the building; Mt. Rainier dominates the skyline to the south, Mt. Stuart and the Teanaway rise to the east, and on a clear day you can get a glimpse of Mt. Baker far to the north. Bonus: In the summer months, the trail winds through fields of delicious huckleberries.

Mount Si, WA
Mount Si, WA (Photo: 4nadia/iStock via Getty Images)

Mt. Si

  • Length: 8 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 40 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 3,150 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Over 100,000 people hike Mt. Si every year, but it’s popular for a reason: A trek upward through old-growth forests bursts into panoramic views of Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, Snoqualmie Valley, and Mt. Rainier, all less than an hour from the city center. Mt. Si is an early-season training ground for aspiring Rainier climbers as well as an excellent hike in it’s own right, and spring visitors are likely to see blooming mountaineers with heavy packs racing to reach the end of the trail in less than two hours—the rumored indicator for Rainier readiness.

Best Dayhikes on the Coast

Ebey's Landing on Whidbey Island at sunset.
WHIDBEY ISLAND, WASHINGTON, USA. Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island at sunset. (Photo: Cavan Images/Cavan via Getty Images)

Ebey’s Landing

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 260 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Beaches, wildlife, windswept bluffs with mountain vistas on both sides: Ebey’s Landing has something for everyone. The best way to check out the 27 square miles of this National Historic Reserve on Whidbey Island is the Bluff Trail, which runs along the park’s highest point between views of beaches, Puget Sound, and the Olympics to the west and the Cascades to the east. Watch for bald eagles perching in the beachside treetops.

Deception Pass beach
A couple looks out at Straight of Juan de Fuca from Deception Pass State Park. (Photo: Aaron McCoy/The Image Bank via Getty Images)

Deception Pass 

  • Length: 5 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 26 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 350 feet
  • Trail Type: Lollipop loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Loop together the Headlands, Rosario Head, and Lighthouse Point trails for a sampler of everything that makes this state park a hiking destination. Winding through rocky cliffs and iconic red-barked madrone trees, the first part of the trail is full of close-up beauty. The second half is where the longer views emerge; Whidbey Island and the 1,487-foot span of the Deception Pass bridge, then at Rosario Head views of the Sound and the Olympic Mountains across the water.

Best Dayhikes in the City

Discovery Park Seattle
(Photo: Karl Weatherly/DigitalVision via Getty Images)

Discovery Park

  • Length: 2.8 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: none
  • Elevation Gain: 140 feet
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate

You don’t even have to leave city limits to get good hiking in Seattle. Discovery Park, once an army post, is now an oasis of forests, meadows, and beaches easily accessible by city bus. Take the Loop Trail to climb a forested bluff with views out over the park’s sandy beach, the Seattle Skyline, and Puget Sound.

Great Blue Heron
Close up of a Great Blue heron flying (Photo: Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography/Moment via Getty Images)

Union Bay Natural Area

  • Length: 3 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: None
  • Elevation Gain: negligible
  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Spot turtles, beavers, and more than 200 species of birds inside city limits at this 74-acre wetland. With four miles of Lake Washington shoreline and several ponds, this preserve provides ideal habitat for herons, blackbirds, and native orchids. Pro tip: Bring binoculars and a guidebook while you wander the trails and see how many different bird species you can spot.

Best Dayhikes on the Olympic Peninsula

Third Beach
Third Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington (Photo: pabradyphoto/iStock via Getty Images)

Third Beach

  • Length: 3.6 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 3 hours 54 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 280 feet
  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Trek along forested bluffs before dropping to the beach on this classic Olympic National Park out-and-back. The trail starts in a forest of enormous, mossy evergreens, often veiled by mist. About a mile and a half in, though, the path drops down the coastal bluffs to the open sand and glorious sea stacks of Third Beach. Check for low tides to plan a beachcombing hike, or pack in a headlamp and spend sunset at the edge of the Pacific.

hiker in Olympic Mountains
Olympic National Park. (Photo: Jordan Siemens/DigitalVision via Getty Images)

Marmot Pass

  • Length: 11.5 miles 
  • Distance from Seattle: 2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 3,489 feet
  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Hard

There’s no reward without work, and Marmot Pass definitely has both. With about 3,500 feet of elevation gain in a bit over 6 miles, it isn’t for the faint of heart (or legs), but the old-growth forest and mountain meadows more than make up for it. Start among gigantic, ancient cedars and hemlocks beside the Big Quilcene River, then climb out of the woods and alpine. The krummholz-treed pass has panoramic views of the heart of the Olympic Range that are well worth a lingering lunch. 

Best Weekend Backpacking Trips Near Seattle

Sometimes you need to get away for more than a day. When the woods are calling but you only have the weekend, you can pack a big adventure into a little time with these six hikes near Seattle.

Best Weekend Backpacking Trips in the Cascades

View from Park Butte Lookout
(Photo: “The Middle Fork of the Nooksack River from Park Butte Lookout” by Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region is licensed under CC PDM 1.0)

Park Butte

  • Length: 7.5 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Hard

Front-row seats to volcanic North Cascades vistas and a historic fire lookout you can sleep in—who could ask for more? The trail to Park Butte winds briefly through evergreen forest before emerging into the alpine, to a colorful show of lupines and paintbrush in the summer and red-leaved berry bushes in the fall. The front porch of the lookout (first-come, first-serve for overnight guests) has a perfect view right up Mt. Baker’s Easton Glacier, where you can watch the sun set over the ice every evening.

Foggy Lake
Foggy Lake rests in an old glacial cirque below Del Campo and Gothic Peaks in the Gothic Basin of the North Cascades in Washington State. (Photo: Vince Barnes/iStock via Getty Images)

Gothic Basin

  • Length: 9.2 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 2,840 feet
  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Peakbagging opportunities and virtually endless off-trail exploring are just the icing on the cake in this peak-rimmed cirque. The trail from Barlow Pass can be a little scrambly, but the price of admission just means less people to share this wilderness with. The Monte Cristo area’s peaks rise above the trai, and once you arrive, Del Campo and Gothic Peak (both class 3 scrambles) frame views of Foggy Lake, the second of two lakes in the basin.

Best Weekend Backpacking Trips on the Olympic Peninsula

Backpackers Morning View From Inside Camp Tent
A lone tent high in the mountains overlooks a sunrise in the forest valley. Shot in Washington state on the Olympic Peninsula (Photo: RyanJLane/E+ via Getty Images)

Gladys Divide

  • Length: 18 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Hard

Climbing from the North Fork of the Skokomish River to the heights of the Olympics, this lesser-known hike in Olympic National Park has a bit of everything, from forests to waterfalls to high peaks. Donahue Creek Falls and Flapjack Lakes make for good snack spots along the first part of the trail, but the latter half is when the views really open up—the entire craggy heart of the Olympic Mountains, spread out on every side.

Tent against trees in forest at Olympic National Park
USA, Washington, Olympic National Park (Photo: Cavan Images/Cavan via Getty Images)

Three Lakes

  • Length: 13.8 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 2,850 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Hike from rainforest to a set of moss-ringed lakes on this weekend overnight. The trail climbs through new forest first (the result of 2009 windstorms that toppled the older trees) before heading into old growth, including the largest Alaska cedar in the world. There are a few campsites scattered along here, but the best ones are all the way at the top; the eponymous Three Lakes, nestled in a meadow of moss and beargrass, are surrounded by ideal camping spots.

Best Backpacking Trips Near Seattle for Families

Path made of wooden beams, leading through the rainforest to Sand Point, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA
(Photo: Gerhard Zwerger-Schoner via Getty Images)

Sand Point

  • Length: 6 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 4 hours 37 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Take the whole clan out on this excursion through salal-floored woods to a campsite right beside the Pacific. The early parts of the trail are mostly on raised wooden boardwalks, traversing wet ground, then the path heads into deeper forest. Clamber over the high tide driftwood pile to reach a long, sandy beach with opportunities for tidepooling, then pick your favorite ocean view and set up camp.

Frozen Lake
(Photo: Beisea/iStock via Getty Images)

Sunrise Camp

  • Length: 3.7 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

This easy loop has two lakes, epic views of Rainier, and talus slopes often filled with pikas and marmots—everything you need to convince your kids backpacking is great, and none of the bugs or elevation gain that will dissuade them. Sunrise Camp is generally used by Wonderland Trail hikers, but it works just as well for those in search of a short and sweet introduction to sleeping in the wilderness.

Best Multiday Hikes Near Seattle

Got a week or more to spend away from the daily grind? Seattle has a nearby hike for that, too. Some of the best long trails in the country are just a couple of hours from Seattle, so you can tackle them at your leisure.

Best Multiday Hikes in the Cascades

(: ImageSource/Image Source via Getty Images)

The Wonderland Trail

  • Length: 93 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 22,000 feet
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Very hard

This trail was well-named: It moves from alpine wonderland to Tolkien-esque ancient forest to mossy meadows, each as lovely as the last. Wander through river valleys, talus-spotted alpine zones, and high meadows frequented by pikas as you admire Rainier’s glaciers and cliffs from every conceivable angle. Not ready to thru-hike? A 30- or 40-mile section of the Wonderland Trail will take you through plenty of spectacular landscapes without the commitment.

Best Multiday Hikes on the Olympic Peninsula

Blue Glacier
Blue Glacier, Mount Olympus, Olympic National Park, Washington (Photo: Image by Patrick W. Zimerman/Moment Open )

Blue Glacier

  • Length: 37 miles
  • Distance from Seattle: 4 hours 9 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 3,700 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Hard

Follow the Hoh River Valley all the way up to the icy slopes of Mt. Olympus on this classic trail. There are several campsites scattered between 10 and 17 miles in, nestled among the mossy rainforest. On day 2, head for the mountain; most of this trail’s elevation gain is in the last few miles, clambering up to a view of the Blue Glacier’s impressive expanse from the summit of Mt. Olympus all the way to the terminal moraine.

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