Here in the Pacific Northwest, hiking is one of our favorite activities! Hiking is a fun, family-friendly weekend-activity, and a great way to exercise while breathing in some fresh air. Seattle is located near tons of breathtaking hiking spots, many of which are clustered around the Issaquah and Snoqualmie regions. Below, I’ve picked a few of my personal favorites to share.
Explore more hiking trails at https://wta.org
Poo Poo Point (6 miles roundtrip/1800 ft. elevation gain)
A beginner-friendly trail that is also a local classic. The Poo Poo Point summit is also a common spot for paragliders. The trailhead is located south of Issaquah, and is next to a small parking lot. There is an overflow parking lot nearby, with a $5 fee to park.
Poo Poo Point is one of the most popular trails in the region, and as a result, It can get crowded on sunny days. In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we recommend hikers to arrive early and avoid the crowds, and to practice appropriate distancing measures when possible.
The trail itself is approximately 5.5 miles roundtrip. The majority of the hike is forested, and the trail takes a gradual ascent. At around the 2.5 mile mark, there is a false summit with a flat clearing. On a clear day, you can get a good view of Issaquah and I-90 winding between the mountains. After approximately another half mile, you will reach the true summit of Poo Poo Point. Many paragliders choose to launch from here, and you can usually see many paragliders getting ready to fly during the summer months.
This trail is a great option for beginners who are just getting into hiking. The trail is moderate length, and trail conditions are usually good.
Rattlesnake Ledge (4 miles roundtrip/1100 ft. elevation gain)
Rattlesnake Ledge is a well-maintained, popular, beginner-friendly trail that is unfortunately closed at the time of this article’s release due to COVID-19. However, we anticipate this trail opening sometime in the future.
The trailhead is situated next to Rattlesnake Lake, in the North Bend area. The hike is mostly forested, leading to a clearing around 2 miles up from the trailhead. The clearing is very rocky, and slopes downwards revealing the beautiful Rattlesnake Lake below. Usually, it is a very popular spot for hikers to eat lunch while enjoying the view of the lake. Because the ledge is very exposed, use caution when hiking with young children or pets.
Dirty Harry’s Balcony (4 miles roundtrip/1300 ft. elevation gain)
The Dirty Harry’s Balcony trail is located in the Snoqualmie region. It is not as popular as the previous two hikes mentioned, but the views are no less breathtaking. The trail is a bit confusing leading out the trailhead, as there is a break in the trail where you will be walking on the main road. Head left towards the bridge, and you will soon spot where you can reemerge into the forested trail.
From the summit, you will be able to see Mount Kent, McClellan Butte, and Mount Washington. You will also get a view of the I-90 highway winding through the mountains.
Little Si (4 miles/1300 ft. elevation gain) and Mount Si (8 miles/3100 ft. elevation gain)
Little Si is a more beginner-friendly version of the Mount Si trail. The trail is fairly short and the elevation gain is very manageable. The trailhead is around 45 minutes out from Bellevue. At the summit of Little Si, you will be pleasantly greeted with views of the valley, Mount Washington, and Mount Si.
Little Si’s big brother is the Big Si trail. Actually, there are two versions of the Mt. Si trail: the old Mt. Si and the new Mt. Si. Both trails eventually join together and lead to the same summit. The Mt. Si trail is steeper and longer than Little Si., and is perfect for slightly more experienced hikers. The hike is steep enough that many backpackers use this trail as practice before summiting Mt. Rainier. After around 3.5 miles up, you will reach the “lunch spot”, which is a rocky clearing where many hikers will sit down for a bit and eat lunch. However, if you keep going past the rocks, you will eventually reach the true summit of Mt. Si. At the very end, there is a rocky scramble leading up the top of the Haystack, which is the highest point on the trail. While no climbing equipment is necessary for this scramble, we do advise you to be cautious heading up the scramble.
Snow Lake (7 miles roundtrip/1800 ft. elevation gain)
The Snow Lake trail is located in the Snoqualmie region. The trail is more suitable for hikers with some experience, and trail conditions can be snowy during the winter/spring months.
Leading up to Snow Lake, this trail has a pleasant surprise waiting for you. The lake is tucked away between several mountain peaks, including the famous Roosevelt Peak. On a good day, the lake is perfectly reflective, mirroring the image of the snowy peaks behind it. Snow Lake is a perfect spot to take breathtaking photos, not to mention the trek up to the lake is a great workout.
Ira Spring Trail (7 miles roundtrip/2400 ft. elevation gain)
Ira Spring Trail is a bit more challenging, topping out at 7 miles roundtrip with 2400 feet of elevation gain. The trailhead is in the Snoqualmie Region, around 50 minutes away from Bellevue. Be careful of road conditions leading up to the trailhead–the road is narrow and there are potholes.
The trail starts off with a very gradual ascent up the mountain. There are trees lining the path, however, you will regularly get glimpses of the surrounding mountains. After around 2 miles, the trail abruptly becomes steeper, although trail conditions are still quite good. The view is spectacular, and on a clear day, you will be able to see Mt. Rainier. At around the 2.5 mile mark, you will come to a fork in the road–turning left brings you to Mason Lake (recommended), while turning right will bring you onto the Bandera Mountain trail (a much longer hike). Do not worry, as this is clearly indicated by a sign at the fork. After the fork, the trail becomes rocky, and winds out into the open. You will get an amazing view of Mt. Rainier among other mountains. The summit is indicated by a cluster of rocks around 3 miles up, however, there is not much room to sit. Past the summit, the trail starts winding downwards into the forest. Mason Lake is half a mile from the summit. There are plenty of places to sit and eat lunch by the lake.
This trail is beautiful, especially on a good day. It’s a bit more of a longer and steeper hike, so I would recommend the trail for slightly more experienced hikers. With that said, this trail is not particularly technically challenging by any means, so it is still very accessible for the average nature-explorer.
Lake Serene: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lake-serene
Mailbox Peak: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mailbox-peak
Skyline Trail: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/skyline-trail-loop
Annette Lake: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/annette-lake
Lake 22: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lake-22-lake-twenty-two
Mount Pilchuck: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-pilchuck
*The one-day thru-hike, starting from the Stuart and Colchuck Lake Trailhead, is recommended for advanced hikers. There are shorter hike options starting from multiple trailheads in the area.
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