While the Cascades Mountains and the close by National Parks grab a lot of attention for hiking, Seattle boasts a large number of trails within the city itself. Some are situated within large parks, giving a sense of wilderness experience within the confines of a city, while other hikes embrace the city and its amazing views of mountains and water. While the Cascades mountains are usual destinations for a day hike near Seattle, if you are looking for something a little closer, and likely a lot less elevation gain and mileage, take a gander below. Note, all the best hikes in Seattle listed on this page are found in the amazing Seattle Parks system, and none require an entry fee.
What's not to like about a paved waterfront trail that loops around an old-growth forest? The Shore Loop Road circumnavigates the Bailey Peninsula, which juts out into Lake Washington, and provides stunning water views. There are a number of benches as well as shelters along the path, so bring a snack and take in those lake views to see why this is one of the best hikes in Seattle. There are also a number of dirt trails that cut through the park, providing the opportunity to get into the forest if you decide to venture off Shore Loop Road. Seward Park has a couple of different parking lots all situated in the Southeast end of the park and they provide easy access to Shore Loop Road.Seward Park Shore Loop Road
Pipers Creek Trail criss-crosses along its namesake creek with a number of small wooden bridges, and will take you through one of the oldest orchards in Seattle and a wetlands area before terminating at the Western edge of the park, where there is a playground and open space. Plan on taking the pedestrian bridge across the train tracks and onto the beach, where you can see Pipers Creek flowing into the Puget Sound. Then hop back on the trail to retrace your steps back to the car.
Pipers Creek Trail is typically started from the South Access in Carkeek Park off of 6th Avenue. There is limited parking at the trailhead, however there is street parking across the road. There are a couple other parking areas within Carkeek Park, and all provide quick access to Pipers Creek Trail.
As you traverse the raised wooden platforms between Marsh Island and Foster Island, you’ll forget about the every present drone of traffic on the 520 bridge and instead focus on the birds and waterfowl which call Lake Washington home. Throw in views of Husky Stadium and Union Bay, and this certainly ranks up there as one of the best waterfront hikes in Seattle. When not on raised platforms, a significant part of the trail is on a bark path, so expect things to be wet and muddy if going during the rainy season, and on rare occasions the trail can close due to high water levels in Lake Washington. If you are looking for more mileage, consider continuing on Foster Point Trail and head to the Washington Park Arboretum.
There is a small parking area at East Montlake Park. Alternatively, you can park at the Arboretum and access the Waterfront Trail via the Foster Point Trail.
This is a developed trail that circles Green Lake, and the only trail in the park. Don’t expect solitude, with many people out for a walk, roller bladers and bikers whizzing by and folks sitting along the bank enjoying some fishing. However, this loop is great, you can expect to see lots of ducks in the water, and depending on the time of year, Canada Geese. Blue herons are common sights. A number of docks to walk out on and a huge number of benches perched along the trail. A number of different parking options, given it’s a loop, it doesn’t matter where you start.Green Lake Trail
Washington Park Arboretum is a 230 acres park with an amazing assortment of plants and trees, both from the Northwest and around the world. The Loop Trail will take you through the various sections of the Park, while affording the opportunity to venture off on one of the many other paths in the park. In autumn, the Japanese Maples are one of the main attractions, being one of the largest collections in North America. The University of Washington provides seasonal tour maps that show you the highlights for the month.
There are a couple of different parking lots at the Washington Park Arboretum and all provide easy access to the Loop trail. Expect the parking lots to be crowded on busy weekends, and you can often find street parking West of the park.
Discovery Park is situated on 534 acres of land in the Magnolia neighborhood, and the Loop Trail is a great hike through the park, traversing through forest and open fields as well as providing views of the Puget Sound. There are numerous trails throughout Discovery Park, many of which cross the Loop Trail; however there is great signage along the Loop Trail to keep you on track. For more time along the water, consider extending the hike with excursions on either the North Beach Trail or South Beach Trail.
While there are different places you can access the Loop Trail, the East Parking Lot at the Visitor Center is the most common place to begin, and you can hike the trail in either direction.
This small park in the neighborhood of Leschi contains a number of short trails which can be pieced together for a relatively short hike. But don’t let the small size fool you, the trails are situated on the side of a hill and provide ample opportunity for elevation gain, and will take you through a beautiful forest and along a small stream, all the while making you forget you are in a city. Note, there is no signage on the trails, and many criss-cross the park. Consider extending your hike down through Leschi Park and along the water towards Madrona Park.
Parking is limited - there are a couple of small pull outs along Lake Washington Boulevard, as well as street parking in the area. Find a place to park, and start hiking on the nearest trail!
This is a very small park, however the trails were recently completed and it offers solitude from the busy city in a beautiful forest setting. There is a main loop, the Hazelnut, which can be accessed from any of the trails that terminate at the street. There is construction on a trail system on a larger section of Cheasty Greenspace north of South Columbian Way. Once the Southern Loop is complete in the summer of 2022, it will provide for the ability to get a lot more mileage than what is available in the Mt View section alone. There are no defined parking spots at the trailheads, however it is easy to find street parking.Cheasty Greenspace - Mt View