My Favorite Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

The Pacific Northwest is without a doubt one of the best and most beautiful places to hike in the United States. But when it comes to selecting the trails you want to conquer, it can be incredibly overwhelming because there are literally thousands to choose from.

Having grown up in the Seattle area, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the area and have narrowed my favorites down to the eight in this post.

If you’re a beginner, I would recommend sticking to the easy and moderate hikes. If you have hiking experience and are in good cardiovascular shape, try out the difficult trails!

Rattlesnake Ledge

Length: 4 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 1,160 ft.

Elevation: 2,078 ft.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Even though Rattlesnake is an incredibly popular and crowded spot, it’s a great first hike to introduce you to the beauty of the PNW. At the top, you’ll reach a large, flat rock that is Rattlesnake Ledge. The views at the top are sweeping. Mountains surround you and Rattlesnake Lake is below you. If you want an even better perspective, I walk down the ledge to the right and snag a photo like the below!

To avoid crowds, I recommend going early and/or on a weekday.

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

 

Spray Park Trail

Length: 8 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft.

Elevation: 6,500 ft.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Located in Mount Rainier National Park, Spray Park Trail is one of the best hikes for exploring incredible alpine meadows. After a few miles of switchbacks through dense woods, you’ll be greeted by views of Mount Rainier and then a beautiful, open area filled with wildflowers, pine trees and towering cliffs.

You can make this a day hike or camp overnight at the trailhead.

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

Tolmie Peak

Length: 7.5 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft.

Elevation: 5,900 ft.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tolmie Peak is one of my favorite hikes in the greater Seattle area because of the wide range of views and environments it offers throughout. The trail starts by meandering through dense woods for a couple of miles, then emerges out into a more open, alpine area that passes alongside the shores of Lake Eunice.

Then, begin the climb up to Tolmie Peak and be sure to look out the whole time – Rainier will get larger and larger in front of you. Once at the top, be sure to climb to the top of the old fire lookout! The view of Mount Rainier, Lake Eunice and the surrounding mountains is incredible.

It’s the perfect day hike.

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

Diablo Lake

Length: 7.6 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft.

Elevation: 1,950 ft.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

This is one of the few places outside of Banff and Jasper National Parks where you can see a lake as blue as the sky. To see Diablo Lake, you can either hike the almost 8 mile trail to the top for stunning views or sit at the lakeside itself by the trailhead. Either way, you’ll be rendered speechless by Diablo’s bright turquoise color and the hillsides that surround it.

This is a great day hike.

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

Lake Colchuck

Length: 8 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 2,280 ft.

Elevation: 5,580 ft.

Difficulty Level: Difficult

It’s hard to put into words how beautiful Lake Colchuck is. It is indescribable. The hike is extremely difficult at times, but boy is it worth it. Lake Colchuck is a bright blue, clear, calm body of water set beneath two of Washington’s highest peaks – Dragontail and Colchuck. For context, a climb over Aasgard Pass (to the left of Dragontail peak) is a “shortcut” to the Enchantments – one of Washington’s most beautiful alpine areas.

Colchuck is the perfect hike to start early in the morning to spend the day swimming and enjoying the lake. Or, make the climb mid-day and spend the night!

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

Silver Peak

Length: 5.6 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 2,100 ft.

Elevation: 5,605 ft.

Difficulty Level: Difficult

Silver Peak is another one of the most difficult hikes in the greater Seattle area.

The trail starts on the Pacific Crest Trail and is easy for about two miles with tons of berries to pick along the way.

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle AreaThe Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

huckleberries, salmonberries, and blueberries – safe to eat!

Then, you reach the entrance to the Silver Peak trail and from there, it starts getting treacherous. You hike for a while in the woods and then reach the first hill of rocks. This one is do-able for simply walking (carefully) up, but soon enough, you’ll come to the final climb to the top. This stretch goes up legitimate piles of boulders and definitely requires scrambling (climbing using your hands). Be sure to bring a backpack that holds all of your things because you’ll need your hands to be free for this!

The scrambling is well worth it, though, because this is the view from the top. It’s an awesome place to watch the sunset too – just be sure to leave about an hour and a half to get back down before it’s pitch black!

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle AreaThe Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

Hidden Lake Lookout

Length: 8 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 3,300 ft.

Elevation: 6,900 ft.

Difficulty Level: Difficult

Hidden Lake Lookout takes quite a bit of endurance to reach, but at the top, you will feel like an ant in the wake of the sheer beauty that surrounds you.

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

Mount Pilchuck

Length: 5.4 miles, round-trip

Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft.

Elevation: 5,327 ft.

Difficulty Level: Difficult

The hike to Mount Pilchuck is difficult (especially the last little bit when you need to scramble over rocks to get to the top), but well worth it. The views you get from the fire lookout are 360 degrees – you can see Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountain Range.

Mount Pilchuck is an incredible day hike, but if you’re up for a bit more adventure, I recommend spending the night in the lookout. There, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset & sunrise, and time to stargaze and swim in the nearby swimming hole. Be sure to bring a camping hammock, food and a flashlight!

The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

photo from WTA.org

Here is a map to better conceptualize where all of these hikes are located:

Which hike would you be most excited about?

xo,


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The Best Hikes in the Greater Seattle Area

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7 Comments

  1. 09.01.2017 / 12:54 pm

    All of the hikes have spectacular views. I especially like the Tolmie Peak. But looks very hard to hike.

    • Christina
      09.06.2017 / 6:09 pm

      Tolmie Peak is absolutely spectacular! Well worth the difficult trek. xx

  2. 09.08.2017 / 10:47 am

    Ahhh! Thank you for sharing your hikes! I loooooved Seattle when I visited last year, but we only hung out in the city – next time I go I want the best of both words.. I will have to keep note of these <3

    • Christina
      09.08.2017 / 1:44 pm

      Oh you definitely need to explore outside of the city!! The wilderness around Seattle is so so gorgeous. Thanks for reading xx

  3. 09.10.2017 / 2:20 pm

    In love with this post! The hikes and photos are all incredible! I can’t wait to return to Seattle so I can see this part of its beauty 🙂

    • Christina
      09.14.2017 / 6:31 pm

      I’m so glad you loved it!! Exploring the mountains is definitely one of the best things to do in the Seattle area 🙂

  4. 11.26.2017 / 3:26 am

    You’ll have to head a bit more north of Seattle next time, and make your way up to Vancouver, Canada! Lots of hikes up here too! 🙂 (That’s where I’m from)

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