With warm Northwestern weather finally here, there is one predicament most Seattleites find themselves in: What am I doing this weekend?
While most extended weekend trips seem to be put on halt, there are still ample opportunities for quick day-trips just outside of Seattle. Hiking should be at the top of your list, especially if you haven’t done many of the hikes along the I-90 corridor.
Here are three hikes you should try to knock off your list before the end of summer.
*Important to note that most of these require a Discover pass to park at the trailhead, unless you’re willing to shill out $10 every time you decide to hike. Do yourself a favor and pick one up before you go. These can be purchased at most grocery stores, and even easier online.
The first hike is far and away the most popular near Seattle. It has almost become a right of passage for newcomers to the city as their initiation into hiking. Because this trail is maintained by the city, it is actually the only trail on this list that WON’T require a Discover Pass to park near! The trail is extremely accessible for people of all ages and abilities, rounding out at 4 miles roundtrip with just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
With this being the case, the weekends generally garner swarms of people, leading to a crowded hike. Along the trail, gentle switchbacks will finally lead hikers to a signed fork in the trail, with Rattlesnake Ledge being unmarked but only 100 yards to the right. The ledge is indeed a cliff face with sheer drops on either side, so caution is advised while walking out. Hikers are awarded with views of Rattlesnake Lake directly below, Mount Washington, and even another mountain that happened to make this list…
The closest and second most popular trail to Seattle proper on this list, Mount Si is a special hike. It is challenging enough to have mountaineers practice with heavy sacks, but not challenging enough to keep trail runners and the less experienced hikers away. The trail primarily consists of gradual switchbacks that are secluded from the direct sunlight. As you approach the summit, the hike completely opens up into a small boulder field. This is the most common lunch spot, and a variety of small wildlife are keenly aware of that fact. The trail doesn’t end here as stone steps have been cut along the western stretch to take hikers into a deeper secluded section of the hike. Finally, for those seeking a challenge, a scramble up the “Haystack” primitive trail will set you atop Mount Si’s true summit. Overall, the hike clocks in at 8 miles round-trip with just over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. There are multiple trail options along this hike to either shorten or extend the overall experience, so the crowd varies drastically.
The mama jama of all hikes, Mailbox Peak is the stuff of legend. There are two sanctioned routes that lead to the top: the old, perilous primitive trail or the newly formed, less aggressive trail. The primitive trail is the premier training ground for mountaineers as the 2-mile hike quickly climbs to nearly 3,200 feet of elevation, while the newer trail does the same over a gradual set of switchbacks spanning 3.5 miles. Either way, both will end in a boulder field that indicates a final push of a mile and 1,000 feet of climbing. At its peak, this hike nets a total of over 4,000 feet climbed and 6-8 miles round trip depending on the routes taken. Where does the name come from? The mailbox situated on top, which hikers have left everything from protein bars to love notes and action figures in. Make sure to bring something to leave your mark and say you conquered Mailbox Peak if you’re brave enough to try this intense hike.