Day hike recommendations near Seattle?

I’m spending five days in Seattle this week, and I’ve never been before. It’s also my first vacation in three years, so I’m very excited.

Anyway, I was hoping to spend a day hiking Olympic or Mt. Rainier, but then I looked at them on the map and those parks are both scary ginormous and very far away from the city. There are also 43,285 trails and I don’t know which one to do.

So…can anyone recommend a good hike I can drive to and from and complete in one day? I’m staying downtown and I can rent a car. I would like it to have spectacular views to make my friends jealous, but would also prefer something that’s not going to be packed with people (I’ll be going on a weekday, which should help). I have zero mountaineering ability of any kind, but I am very fit, so I should be able to do, I guess, 5-10 miles with no problem?

Also, any other recommendations for unique things to do would be appreciated as well!

It’s a 2.5 hour out to Rainier, but you can go there, hike, and come back in a day.

This one was a great hike:

I’ve heard that Lake 22 is quite good, but only an hour and a bit out of the city:

I mostly do the hikes that are further out from the city. If you want something easy that still has some good scenery, doing a loop in Discovery Park and going out to see the lighthouse is quite nice.

That won’t take you the full day, just a couple hours.

There are a ton of trails that can be day hiked.
I’ll recommend the WTA website, which you can use to search for hikes (Puget Sound & islands, Issaquah alps, and Snoqualmie region) are probably your best bets. (They also have an app which will tell you what hikes are close to you at the moment)

Thanks, both! I’ll look at those recs. It’s just hard narrowing them down because there are so many. I don’t want to be with a bunch of 80-year-olds walking up a 5-degree road, but I also don’t want something that’s so remote that if I accidentally go off the trail a helicopter has to come find me.

I can’t speak for hiking, but there’s plenty of unique things to be done in Seattle. The Underground Tour is a must, and Ride the Ducks is a fun way to see the main sights of downtown/SLU. Pike Place Market is an interesting place to walk around and window-shop in even if you don’t buy anything. MoPOP (formerly EMP), next door to the Space Needle, has all kinds of great music and sci-fi memorabilia, and they’re running some really cool exhibitons on Star Trek and David Bowie right now. If you want to drive about half an hour east to North Bend, you can visit the diner from the original Twin Peaks (damn fine cherry pie there.) To the southeast, in Renton, you can pay your respects at Jimi Hendrix’s grave. North of downtown you can see the famous Fremont Troll, and a little further north in Wallingford you can hit Archie McPhee, the greatest novelty shop in the world.

When it comes to food - try Dick’s at least once, preferably around midnight. Then head up to Greenwood, find parking near Beth’s Café (if you can), and have a twelve-egg chili cheese omelette, served on a pizza tray on top of a pile of hash browns. And then, if you survive, make your way back downtown to the International District, in the heart of old Chinatown, and stop into Samurai Noodle for the best bowl of ramen you’ve ever tasted.

I remember Mount Si being a rather popular hike when I lived out there; haven’t done it myself, though.

Olympic and Mt. Rainier are great hiking, but I wouldn’t go there to hike. Do the day hikes and scenic heights, but if you want to hike you probably want to go elsewhere.

I’ll recommend a couple off of the I90 corridor:
Snow Lake + Gem Lake (introduction to the Alpine Lakes)
Talapus and Olallie (and Pratt) - these can also lead to Mason lake to do a loop. You should be able to hitch between trailheads with a little persistance
Lake Annette (This one is very similar to Lake 22 mentioned above- but much closer; but the real reason to go here is a 1 mile nature trail loop at the trailhead- Asahel Curtis- which is untouched old growth forest with some monster trees and mushrooms)
Granite Peak is also very cool with an outlook over the area
If you want to see the national parks and have the hike of a lifetime, then I suggest Goat Rocks/ Snowgrass Flats. And you want to do the last mile to the ridge overlooking the lake. It is located between the three most famous WA volcanoes. It is a 4 hour drive from Seattle but could be done as a crazy long day. The other things that I recommend for a two day adventure are: Paradise in Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks, and then Windy Ridge and Ape Cave in Mt. St. Helens.

It’s a good one. I think it is the “canonical” I-90 corridor easy-to-get-to-from-Seattle hike. The trail is very crowded on a nice weekend but will be fine on a week day. I’ve also really enjoyed Blanca Lake off US-2, although it seems to be indefinitely closed due to road washout.

That said, a visit to the WTA website and picking a suitable distance and travel time sounds like a good bet. If you’re looking for a good solid day hike I’d recommend not driving all the way to Rainier or the other far away parks, you can get a lot more hiking and less driving with something on the I-90 corridor, and many of those options are still really spectacular. You’ve got a lot of good advice in this thread already :slight_smile:

I love Rattlesnake Lake. It’s maybe an hour from Seattle and easily found from I-90. It can either be four miles or longer depending on what you want. Incredible views. There’s also a small museum and rain drums

My friend just got back from Seattle, and he had a great time at Snoqualmie falls.

That is a neat place but probably not what the OP is looking for. It’s about 20 minutes round trip to waterfall :slight_smile:

A fun day out for kids though. There is great river access at the bottom for rock scrambling and the like. My six year old loves it.

Wow, this is great! Thanks everyone! I have a lot of research to do.

Also, dumb question – does the monorail only have two stops? It doesn’t stop anywhere in between?

Yes, there are only two stops. No, there is nothing in between. Yes, you can walk from one stop to the other in about 25 minutes (if you walk at a moderate pace). It is one of the things left over from the World’s fair. At various times, there have been attempts to expand the monorail, but none of them went anywhere so it’s a mile long ride that goes pretty much nowhere.
But still kind of fun.

Exactly. It is a holdover tourist attraction. Fun for kids, but it doesn’t serve a commuter purpose. You should check out King County Metro (and the related Sound Transit, although I think the King County site shows all of these routes too) for your Seattle transit needs. Personally I find transit options in and to / from Seattle to be excellent, although I think I benefit from one of the most reliable routes (across the lake into Bellevue / Eastgate).