The Best Hikes Near Seattle: 7 Great Options For 2021

Picture this: You are hiking through the desolate wilderness. There is no one else around for miles. All you can hear is the sound of your own steps as your boots shuffle through damp earth and pine needles. As you take in the evergreen forest filled with giant trees against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the smell of petrichor fills the air.

You’re not thinking about your emails or politics of the office. Instead, you are met with a feeling of awe and wonderment at the beauty of nature. A still calmness washes over your body as you realize, once again, that you are small next to the grandness of the natural world. And if you are small, your office spats seem even more so in comparison.

If you live in Seattle you don’t have to use your imagination to create this scene. You’ve been there. You’ve seen these forests. You’ve smelled the air. You know the feeling. That’s because Seattle is blessed with a lifetime of hiking right in its backyard. There are so many great hikes within the city or just an hour away.

The Best Hikes Near Seattle: Our Picks

This article lists the 7 best hikes near Seattle that you can take to get away from the bustling city and reconnect with nature.

Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

  • Address: Mt Index River Rd Gold Bar, WA 98251
  • Region: Gold Bar
  • Distance: 8.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation: 2,000 feet
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Website: WTA.org

This hike is one of the best hikes near Seattle because it has not one but two spectacular features Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls both competing for your attention. Bridal Veil Falls is a towering waterfall and Lake Serene is a gorgeous alpine lake. Either of the two would make a great hike but when they are both combined into one trip you have a dream hike.

A Northwest Forest Pass is required n the parking lot. The trail follows an old road surrounded by deciduous trees and salmonberry bushes. The berries are ripe from early to mid-June and are a deliciously sweet snack. 

Hike for 2.5 miles and then the trail turns into a stair-climbing exercise to take you to Bridal Veil Falls. The 1,328-foot waterfall cascades down into four sections. Keep low and to the left, if you wish to get the big view of the falls. Climb the stairs along the waterside to get a more up-close view and fell the fresh spritzed of the falls. 

Continue on from the falls to the midpoint at Lake Serene. Sit on a large rock and take n the beauty of Mt. Index across the water. The cliffs rise 3,000 feet and snow can be found around the base if there were a lot of avalanches the previous winter. 

The Lake Serene Trail is pretty popular with locals and tourists alike so you better start early if you want to view the lake in solitude.

Wallace Falls

  • Address: Woody Trail Gold Bar, WA 98251
  • Region: Gold Bar
  • Distance: 5.6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation: 1,300 feet
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass
  • Website: WTA.org 

Wallace Falls is one of Washinton’s most popular attractions and one of the best hikes near Seattle. Get an early start on this hike and you will be rewarded with beautiful vistas and a grand summit view. 

This is a relatively easy hike along with the beautiful Wallace River with three different stops for waterfall views: Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls views. If you find the trail too difficult to make it all the way to the top take comfort knowing that there are some beautiful views of the falls at the Lower and Middle Falls stops. 

The Lower Falls viewpoint can be reached after 2 miles of hiking. With an additional half-mile, you’ll soon reach Middle Falls. From Middle Falls to Upper Falls te trail becomes a bit more rugged but these harder sections are brief.

Dogs are allowed at Wallace Falls but required to be on a leash the entire time. Wallace Falls State Park is also a beautiful park for mountain biking, fishing, swimming, and rock climbing. If you are looking to participate in these other types of activities contact to park and inquire about seasonal availability. 

The Ira Spring Trail to Mason Lake

  • Address: Ira Spring Memorial Trail North Bend, WA 98045
  • Region: Snoqualmie Pass
  • Distance: 6.5 miles round trip 
  • Elevation: 2,420 feet 
  • Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Website: WTA.org 

Named in tribute to lifelong nature photographer and conservationist Ira Spring, this popular summertime hiking trail is characterized by steep pitches, open meadows, and crystal clear alpine waters.

This trail is a quick 45-minute drive outside Seattle but once you arrive you will feel hundreds of miles away. The trail meanders through a dense forest, past a waterfall, over a rocky mountain ledge, and ends at an alpine lake.

Take a dip in Mason lake, a small but deep pool as plump trout leap out of the water. Be aware that in the Spring the lake tends to flood. Hikers can enjoy it at its best from late spring to fall. A sturdy footbridge was built so hikers can cross the lake at all seasons. 

While you may not find solitude at this popular hiking location we’ve listed it as one of the best hikes near Seattle because of its beautiful natural landscapes and picturesque picnic location.

Twin Falls 

  • Address: SE 159th St North Bend, WA 98045
  • Region: North Bend
  • Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 500 feet
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass
  • Website: WTA.org

This is one of the best hikes near Seattle for beginners or families with children. There isn’t much climbing and the waterfalls are a great reward for your effort. Three separate waterfalls are collectively known as the “Twin Falls” and there are multiple overlooks for different views of the falls. 

Most of this trail is at the bottom of a valley and the trees block long views. Hikers can focus on up-close nature such as the maidenhair ferns and wildflowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. If you get lucky you may even see on the tall light-colored elk that lives in the area. 

Begin your hike from the Homestead Valley trailhead and then hike along Iron Horse Trail for about a third of a mile. You will then reach the junction with Twin Falls Trail. Hike through the lush greenery until you finally arrive at the beautiful falls and the Big Bridge. The bridge is a very nice outlook post and the perfect spot to take a photo to commemorate your hike. 

Rattlesnake Ledge

  • Directions: There isn’t an address but here are some directions. Drive East on 1-90 to exit 32 for 436th Avenue SE. Turn right onto 436th Avenue SE. Proceed for miles and you will happen upon the Rattlesnake Lake parking lot on the right. 
  • Region: North Bend 
  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 1,200
  • Pass Required: None
  • Website: WTA.org

Rattlesnake Ledge is a beautiful hike with views of the Ceder River, Mount Si, Mount, Washington, Rattlesnake Lake, and Chester Morse Lake. The trail can be a little steep in some areas but we would classify this as a relatively easy hike. 

From the parking lot, you will have a view of Rattlesnake Ledge’s rock face across Rattlesnake Lake. In just a short while you will be up on that very ledge. A trail map will reveal a few routes you can take to reach the destination without as much effort. A new trail was added recently that made it a little bit longer but also a little bit less steep. 

When you arrive at the ledge be careful if you are hiking with children or a dog. The ledge is very exposed so approach it carefully. The lower ledge is always crowded here. If you want a lookout with fewer hikers continue up to the middle or upper ledge. There are better views and fewer people. We listed this trail as one of the best hikes near Seattle because of its convenience and the fact that it doesn’t require a pass. 

Mailbox Peak

  • Address: Mailbox Peak Trail North Bend, WA 98045
  • Region: North Bend
  • Distance: 9.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 4,000 feet
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass
  • Website: WTA.org

If you are an avid Seattle hiker you’ve probably heard of mailbox peak. The original trail was often mentioned in hiker’s stories that featured a bad storm or accident. This trail gained its fearsome reputations because it included 4,000 feet of climbing in a 3-mile span!

The newer and more gentle trail takes twice as long to reach the summit and is still quite challenging, however, it is less steep. Named for the mailbox that sits at the top of the peak, Mailbox Peak is more difficult than its neighbor Mount Si. Once you reach the top you are rewarded with 360-degree views of the north and the central Cascades.  

If you are a masochist, or just wanting to test your skill, you can still take the old trail. The brutal ascent to the summit starts with the gated road. There is a sign with warnings about the difficulty of the trail as you turn into the woods. It’s not exaggerating. 

The first fifth of a mile is a pleasant walk but then the trail gets steeper and steeper with every step. It doesn’t let up until you reach the top. Sometimes the angle pitches straight upward. In some areas, it may feel more like rock climbing than hiking. There are few landmarks to mark your progress because much of the hike is through dense forest.  

A deep snow blanket the hill in late winter so come prepared. Some areas present avalanche risk and the area has been known to slide. The greatest reward of this hike is reaching the top with the knowledge that you could have taken an easier route but you didn’t. Sign your name on the mailbox and take a quick photo for the scrapbook. Mailbox Peak is one of the best hikes near Seattle if you are up for the challenge.  

Mount Si

  • Address: Mount Si Trail North Bend, WA 98045
  • Region: North Bend
  • Distance: 8 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 3,150 feet
  • Pass Required: Discover Pass
  • Website: WTA.org

Mount Si is the classic hike in the Seattle area. That’s why we’ve saved it for last on our best hikes near Seattle list. Mount Si rocky peak featured in the opening credits of “Twin Peaks”. This popular trail has no doubt been hiked by that guy at your office. 

Each year more than 100,000 people hike Mount Si. It’s close proximity to Seattle and beauty make this hike a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The trail gains 3,100 feet in just under 4 miles. It provides bragging rights for people who finish but it’s not quite tough enough to scare people off from trying.

Don’t be surprised to find hikers in early spring hiking with weighted packs as they train to conquer Rainer, Washington’s highest peak. Many believe that if they can finish this trail in under two hours with a weighted pack they are ready to take on Ranier. 

Instead of rushing through the trail to clock a fast time take time to appreciate the height and age of the trees. Remarkably, they are still standing. Before 1977, this area was used for mining and logging. State legislator Francis North is responsible for the conservation of this area. There is a tribute to him at the beginning of the trail. 

Our Final Thoughts on the Best Hikes Near Seattle

You don’t have to travel far outside Seattle to find a beautiful trail to hike. Seattle has so many great trails in its backyard. Pack up the kids and bring the dog along for a hiking adventure. You may just find a new favorite trail and you’ll be teaching your children about the importance of slowing down in our fast-paced world, nature, and conservation. 

If you are already familiar with these trails and want to venture further outside of Seattle read our article on the Top Ten Best Hikes in Washington. Have fun on your next hiking adventure! Remember not only does it take special shoes to hike, but it takes a bit of a special soul as well. We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best hikes near Seattle.