There is nothing quite like going hiking for a reason you have never hiked before.You get up early when most people prefer to sleep and decide to go out in the nature to get the crisp air and melt away your stress while getting in some solid exercise.It requires lot of perseverance to explore the region by hiking and once you are into it, it’s an addiction to challenge your physical ability.Pacific Northwest is an amazing region full of natural beauty with perfect weather for hiking and Seattle is hiker’s stop with mountains in almost every direction.
We did quite few hikes around the region in last 1.5 years and wanted to share few local favorite one day hikes within 2 hour drive from Seattle to keep your weekends engaged.So, if you are bored off playing board games,chatting with friends and waiting long hours at city restaurant, pick up a hike and get some adrenaline rush.
Before going on a hike, I would recommend you to look into http://www.wta.org for all the details.
1) RattleSnake Ridge – 4 miles round trip, 1160 ft elevation gain, Difficulty Level – Easy to Moderate
If you are new to Seattle, this is the hike almost every local will recommend.A very busy trail through the forest with the views of Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake and Chester Morse Lake.This hike gives you small glimpse of Pacific Northwest region and when you are done with it you would like to explore more of the hidden gems.
2) Poo Poo Point – 7.2 miles round trip, 1858 ft elevation gain, Difficulty Level – Moderate
This is the second favorite hike among the locals.The trail takes you through lush green forest,number of small creeks and end at the great spot from where you can enjoy the panoramic views of Issaquah,Bellevue downtown,Sammamish and Cougar mountain.The large area at the top is also used as launching pad for para gliders.So, if you are too tired to hike down, you can glide down to the bottom of the summit:-)
3) Gothic Basin – 9.2 miles round trip, 2840 ft elevation gain, Difficulty level – Strenuous
Climbing nearly 3000 ft in 3 miles, your thighs will burn out and cry for help.Hike is very steep with rocky landscapes and big boulders to climb but the views at the top are unmatched.You will be thrown in a scene of granite landscapes and small lakes which will make you think you were in Lord Of the Rings walking with Gandalf on one of his excursions.
4) Bandera Mountains – 8 miles round trip, 3400 ft elevation gain, Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
Initially the trail is mild and enjoyable with switchbacks through fir , wild blackberry and red berry trees but as it gets higher, the trail becomes steeper and rockier with partial view of Mount Rainier from the gaps.After about 3 miles of hiking, the trail splits and actual climbing starts.Thankfully the climb is short and out open on big boulders through colorful wild flowers and beautiful view of Mount Rainier,Mount Defiance and Mason Lake.
5) Little Si – 4.7 miles round trip, 1300 ft elevation gain, Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
If you don’t want to climb the big brother Mount Si, there is a much easier option with rewarding views nearby – Little Si.The hike is not a walk in the park but it is mostly enjoyable.At the top, you will be rewarded with the beautiful view of Snoqualmie valley.
6) Granite Mountain – 8.6 miles round trip, 3800 ft elevation gain, Difficulty level – Strenuous
Considered as ideal training hike for larger peaks such as Mt Baker or Mt Rainier, the trail is not very scenic.The moment you start the trail, it’s a merciless uphill climb as far as you can imagine.Your shoulders and thighs will burn out and the moment you think to give up, you will see daunting Granite peak on your face with another 1.5 miles of climbing to do.You will be completely worn out by the time you reach at the top of the summit.Don’t attempt this hike unless you are fit enough to climb it.Take lots and lots of water with you.Most of the hike is above tree line which makes it even difficult on a hot sunny day.
7) Kendall Katwalk to Ridge and Gravel lake – 15 miles round trip, 2600 ft elevation gain, Difficulty level – Moderate
This is the most colorful hike I have done so far in Washington.The trail is well maintained and half of the trail is above tree line which gives you unobstructed view of Red Mountain and Mount Rainier.The mid section of the trail called Kendall Gardens is full of dazzling and colorful wild flowers and berries.The lakes are another 1.5 miles from Kendall mountain and camping is allowed near the shores of the lake.
8) Mailbox Peak – 9.4 miles round trip, 4000 ft elevation gain, Difficulty level – Strenuous
Oh my God ! what a hike.It is definitely not for the faint – hearted. There are 2 trails – Old and New trail.The old trail is much steeper than the new one but old trail is sometimes closed due to safety issues.New trail is less steep but steep enough to burn you out.Gaining almost 1000 ft every mile, the trail passes through many seasonal streams, bridges and uncountable switchbacks.The last 0.75 mile is no joke as hikers need to gain 1000 ft before reaching at the top of the peak.At the top, hikers are rewarded with beautiful views of Bandera mountain, Middle Fork Valley, various lakes and downtown Seattle on a sunny day.There is a mailbox at the top and you will find weird things inside it.If you think climbing down is easier than you are mistaken.Climbing down is equally hard as climbing up.Your thighs and calves will burn out and pain will linger on for days to come.