Our Evergreen State has the most beautiful hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest, and some of them are easily accessible off the I-90. Whether you're an experienced hiker or just starting out, there is a perfect trail for you right next to I-90. Here is the list of my favorite trails. Keep in mind all these trails get lots of traffic and parking is challenging during the weekends. If you are looking for some solitude, either avoid weekends or start very early to beat the crowds.
1. Poo Poo Point - exit 18
Poo Poo Point is a small knoll on a shoulder of West Tiger Mountain. The name comes from the steam engines' whistle sounds in the early days of logging. Chirico Trail is a popular, short and well-maintained option to reach Poo Poo point. The hike is moderate, with some steep sections. It is a popular spot for paragliding.
2. Rattlesnake Ledge - exit 32
This short trail is one of the most popular ones in the area. The trail is just under 4 miles round trip and offers breathtaking views of the Snoqualmie Valley and surrounding mountains. Once you reach the top, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the Snoqualmie Valley. The Rattlesnake Ledge The trail is moderate and well-maintained, well suited for hikers of all levels.
If you have time, explore the other two ledges as well.
3. Mount Si - exit 32
The Mount Si Trail is one of my special trails that I hike on new year and on my birthday. It is a challenging hiking trail that offers incredible views of the Snoqualmie Valley and Mount Rainier. The trail is steep and can be strenuous, but the reward at the top is worth it. If you prefer your trail short and steep, try the Old Mount Si trail, which starts from Little Si Trailhead.
Its summit is a class 3 scramble and called "the Haystack".
4. Mailbox Peak - exit 34
This is “The” trail! Anyone living in the Seattle area must hike it at least once. This is a challenging hike, and the views from the top outweigh all the effort. The trail is just over 5 miles round trip and gains over 4,000 feet of elevation. On a clear day, the views extend all the way to Glacier Peak Wilderness and Mount Baker, of course Mount Rainier will give you company as you push through the last half mile. Up for a challenge - try the old route, steep, short and relatively well-marked.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” ― Edward Abbey
5. Bandera Mountain - exit 45
This hike is about 8 miles round trip and gains over 3,000 feet of elevation. False summit aka Little Bandera has beautiful views and some flatter spots to relax. True summit is about 100 feet higher via an unmaintained and rocky trail.
6. Ira Spring - Mason Lake - exit 45
This trail is a perfect tribute to nature photographer and conservationist Ira Spring. About 6.5 miles long with 2400 feet elevation gain, this trail wanders and climbs through thick forests, rocky terrain and meadow finally reaching to sparkling blue alpine lake. If you have time, extend your hike to Little Bandera or Mount Defiance.
7. Annette Lake - exit 47
This hike is just under 8 miles round trip and takes you to the serene Annette Lake. The trail is relatively easy and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
8. Granite Mountain - exit 47
This hike is about 9 miles round trip and gains over 3,800 feet of elevation. The trail offers stunning views of the Kaleetan Peak, Mount Rainier, and access to the fire lookout. Granite Mountain fire lookout was first constructed in 1924 and was then rebuilt 31 years later. In autumn juicy blueberries are bonus!
9. Snow Lake - exit 52
It is just over 6 miles round trip and takes you to the picturesque Snow Lake. This trail is heavily crowded during summer months for its clear inviting water to cool down. I will highly recommend adding Gem Lake and perhaps make it a beautiful backpacking trip. Sunrise at Gem Lake is amazing.
10. Kendall Katwalk - exit 52
Kendall Katwalk is a 150 yard long narrow pathway blasted out of a steeply sloped granite rock face on the north ridge of Kendall Peak in 1979. This challenging hike has stunning views of Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The trail is just over 12 miles round trip with only 2600 feet elevation gain. My favorite time to hike it is in spring and autumn.
Whether you're looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll through beautiful alpine meadows, there's something for everyone in this beautiful corner of the Pacific Northwest. So put on your hiking boots and hit the trail while following Leave No Trace principles.