10 Seattle-Area Hikes to Take This Summer

Seattle, Snohomish County, and King County have some of the world’s most beautiful hikes, bar none. The region’s spectacular mountain ranges offer up a veritable bounty of superb trails ranging from easy mossy paths to rocky alpine ascents. Here’s our list of hikes for every mood and skill level, compiled with help from the team at Corcoran Lifestyle Properties.

(Note: Some of the routes are ADA-accessible, and others are only seasonal — check the websites for conditions and permit rules before heading out.)

Maple Valley’s Gnome Trail

Visit our gnome sweet gnome in Maple Valley, where gnomes big and small live and hide.

The Gnome Trail is a very short and cute one, making it a great option to introduce kids (or the hiking adverse of any age) to the joys of hiking in the Pacific Northwest. The trail starts at the parking lot of the Maple Valley Farmers Market (open every Saturday from May through October) and continues for half a mile before looping back, making for an easy one-mile circuit. Dozens of gnomes are hidden throughout the trail, and visitors are encouraged to bring and leave their own to join their friends. Hidden in tree nooks and among the moss and lichen, the gnome community grows and moves regularly, so repeat visitors will find the journey different every time.

Washington Park Arboretum

Travel around the world by visiting country-specific plantings in the Arboretum, including the popular Japanese Garden.

A 230-acre oasis on the shores of Lake Washington, the Washington Park Arboretum is a living museum that’s run jointly by the University of Washington and the City of Seattle. “Between the beautiful greenery, flowers, and sweet little nooks of the park, the Arboretum is a must see,” says Stephanie McCarthy, broker-owner of Corcoran Lifestyle Properties.

Walks range from one to 3.8 miles and are on generally flat surfaces, making this an ideal walk that’s closer to a stroll than a hike. Highlights include Rhododendron Glen, Azalea Way, a Japanese garden, and a Pinetum, with a large collection of conifers. Washington Park Arboretum also has a large collection of cherry trees, making it a favorite spot in the spring, during cherry blossom season.

Lord Hill Park

Find your bliss in the rarely-crowded Lord Hill Park.

Conveniently located in Snohomish just minutes west of downtown Monroe, Lord Hill Park has 1,463 acres of forest, ponds, open meadows, and a wide range of hiking trails, as well as trails for mountain biking and horseback riding. Whether you’re looking for an easy walk or a more challenging hike, there are plenty of trails with stunning views available. It’s also large enough that even if the parking lots are full, hikers will still be able to find mostly empty trails, perfect for appreciating nature in solitude — far from noisy crowds. Part of the Snohomish County Parks & Recreation Department, it’s maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers who continuously build and improve the park’s trails.

St. Edwards Park 

St. Edwards Park, a former Catholic seminary, boasts earthly delights —  such as spa services — alongside its beautiful natural surroundings.

Originally the grounds of a Washington Catholic seminary, St. Edwards Park is a favorite of McCarthy and Lifestyle agent Heidi Braund. “There are multiple great hikes in Saint Edwards Park, with trails with different levels of difficulty that lead you from a big field down to a lakeside beach,” Braund explains. The hike from 400 feet above Lake Washington down to the water brings you to some of the last of the undeveloped shoreline left in the area and is shaded by a leafy tree canopy.

“Kenmore’s hidden gem continues pulling you back with something for every season, including summer concerts in the park with food trucks and a large outdoor playground,” adds McCarthy. The actual seminary building itself has recently been renovated into The Lodge, a hotel with a spa and restaurants — perfect for a staycation.

Discovery Park

Part of historic lands of the Salish Seas People, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park, with beach, forest, and lighthouse views.

“If you’re looking for a serene and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Discovery Park in Seattle is an absolute gem,” says Derenda Sweeney. “As the largest city park in Seattle, it offers a vast expanse of natural beauty to explore, with stunning views of both the Cascade and Olympic Mountain Ranges.”

And large it is, covering 550 acres that offer a few different short hiking loops perfect for a relaxed day on the trails. The most popular one is the 4.4-mile Lighthouse Loop Trail, offering views of the forest, beach, and the lighthouse. The park is part of the historic lands of the Salish Seas People, and in 1971, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation signed a 99-year lease on 20 acres, now home to the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.

 Iron Goat Trail

Trace the route of the old Great Northern Railway grade along the Iron Goat Trail.

This is an easy six-mile loop that’s a fun hike with something for everyone, with the first three miles being ADA-accessible. The trail follows the abandoned upper and lower Great Northern Railway grade and with plenty of signs along the way explaining the trail’s railroad past. The Great Northern Railway, which had to climb the steep Cascades mountains, was nicknamed the “Iron Goat” — a play on the “iron horse” — and adopted the goat as its logo.

“For those who love hiking and history, taking a stroll through the railroad legacy of this area is an unforgettable experience,” says Corcoran Lifestyle Properties Operations Manager Tammy McKee. “The old tunnels, rusting relics, cement snow sheds, and the big red caboose are sure to capture the imagination of kids and adults alike. But there’s much more to this area than just old artifacts. The complex history of the railroad and those who built it, as well as the devastating avalanche that wiped everything away, offer a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.”

Wallace Falls

Bask in the glory of Wallace Falls from three different heights on this hike.

Wallace Falls and the Wallace Lake Loop is one of my tried-and-true favorites as I’m a sucker for waterfalls,” says agent Carrie Gendron. With its gorgeous waterfall views, this is a very popular hike, and it can a bit crowded at times, especially in the summer. However, this is a rare Seattle-area trail that’s hikeable year-round, so consider starting out early in the day or try it during the off-season for a less busy experience. If you just do the waterfall loop, it’s a 5.5-mile roundtrip, or you can extend your hike to Wallace Lake and Jay Lake for a longer hike of about 11 miles roundtrip. Wallace Falls State Park has a campground and five cabins available for rent, so there’s also an option to spend the night in the area if you would like more time to explore.

Mount Si

Fans of intense hikes and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks alike love Mount Si.

Short, but steep, Mount Si is one of Seattle’s most popular hikes. You might recognize Mount Si’s visage from the opening credits of Twin Peaks, where Mount Si stood in for one of the titular mountains, but it’s really the view from the top that lures its many visitors. Corcoran Lifestyle Properties Marketing Manager Natalya Kravchuk says, “If you’re looking for a challenging hike, this is a tough one, but beyond beautiful! Once you get to the top it feels like you’re on top of the world.” Experienced hikers recommend Mount Si as a warm-up before tackling Mount Rainier, as the ascent to the top via steep switchbacks starts almost immediately. More than 100,000 people climb Mount Si each year, so be prepared to huff and puff with the crowds, as you gain 3,100 feet in under four miles.

Paradise at Mount Rainier

It’s literally Paradise.

Mount Rainier has a reputation as being one of the most difficult mountains to tackle, but the truth is there are many ways to approach hiking here. Lori Hughes recommends the Paradise area for its large variety of hikes, and specifically, the Pinnacle Trail, for those ready for a challenge. Hughes says, “The Pinnacle Trail is where my husband Jeff asked me to marry him 25 years ago, and we were married six months later. We still hike it every year.”

And even if you don’t find love on the mountain, you can still find your bliss with whatever Paradise trail you take — Hughes says, “As the name suggests, this place truly feels like a paradise on earth, with stunning views, wildflower meadows, and even a wide variety of winter activities.” The Pinnacle Trail is short and very steep, but the Paradise area offers a large range of easier and longer hikes to cater to almost every kind of hiker. There’s also an excellent visitor center and the Paradise Inn, a historical lodge with a café and restaurant.

The Enchantments

The Enchantments are only available to the most dedicated of hikers, but the reward is stunning.

Truly living up to its name, The Enchantments is a wondrous, strenuous hike that rewards those who undertake it with legendary alpine views. This is arguably the most monumental hike in the Washington State, and Lifestyle agent Katrina Sather says, “A thorough hike of the Enchantments is an epic northwest journey that rivals the rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon.”

Ideally, The Enchantments is best tackled as a multi-day hike, camping along the way, but as this requires winning an almost-impossible annual lottery for an Enchantments Wilderness Permit, most hikers opt for a day-long thru-hike. This is not for the faint of heart — fit, experienced hikers generally take somewhere between ten to fifteen hours of hiking to complete the trail. Since this hike is one-way only, hikers have come up with various two car schemes, shuttle buses, and occasional hitchhiking methods to return to their starting point. For those who complete The Enchantments, it’s an amazing achievement to be savored for years.

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