Seattle Fall Hiking Trails: A Walk To Remember
The Seattle area is known for high mountains and tall trees. It takes a lot of rain to grow the fir, red cedar, spruce, maples and other trees that make Western Washington green. The leaves on the maple and other deciduous trees turn every color from pale yellow to bright red during the fall season; a pleasant time of year for a day hike.
There are many hiking trails in the area including the paved, urban Burke-Gilman Trail that winds 19.8 miles through the city from Puget Sound along the lakes to Kenmore on the north shore of Lake Washington. This trail joins the paved Sammamish River Trail that winds past the wineries in Woodinville and Redmond.
Experienced hikers and people in the Greater Seattle Area who want a leisurely hike through the forest travel east along Interstate-90 to several Forest Service hiking trails that offer a few hours away from the urban environment. The Snoqualmie region near North Bend offers several parks and trails within an hour’s drive of Seattle or Bellevue.
Rain gear is necessary even on a beautiful fall day that begins with sunshine.
The key to a good hike is finding the best trails. There are over 3,500 hikes in Washington, so even I haven’t done every one. However, I’ve done a few, and here are some of my favorites.
Mount St. Helens
Volcanic parks are some of my favorite hiking destinations, and I think I know why. For me, hiking is a mental space where I return to nature from a place of genuine understanding. Because nature is a place where beauty and danger meet, volcanic trails represent its incredible and destructive potential.
This is probably why Mount St. Helens is one of Washington’s most popular trails. While climbers have long challenged themselves to climb the now-dormant beast, the volcano is also filled with beautiful trails for hikers of varying levels of experience.
However, the trail is most popular during the summer. If you visit during the Fall, you’ll find yourself with the advantage of a relatively quiet trail where you can experience incredible fall foliage, stunning geography, and breathtaking views.
Hurricane Hill is a pretty easy hike. But if you’re a nature enthusiast, you can’t afford to skip it.
Whether you go in the early morning or the middle of the day, this hike feels like walking on air. When you’re on the trail, you can see the Olympic peaks, Mount Baker, and other incredible Washington sights.
The most amazing part of this trail is that it provides this without requiring extensive or strenuous climbing. Instead, anyone with the right gear can experience these engrossing views on a gradual walk. The ease of the trail, combined with the fact that you’ll be surrounded by beautiful foliage and wildlife, makes it the perfect place for anyone looking to get lost in nature.
Skyline Divide is a bit more difficult than Hurricane Hill. However, this stunning trail is still accessible to beginners, and one of my favorite destinations in Washington.
The trail will take you over 6,000 feet high and includes incredible views of the Koma Kulshan, Mount Baker Baker, and Shuksan mountains. The views themselves are enough to make the hike worth it, and they aren’t the only incredible part of this trail.
The Divide is also well-known for its incredible floral views. If you’re a flower enthusiast, you’ll find the trail beautiful. Even if you’re not, the Skyline Divide experience is colorful and breathtaking each step of the way.
Wonderful plant life is a huge part of what makes this trail such a great Fall destination. Seeing such a wide variety of species interact with the changing seasons is something you rarely get to see. But when you do see it, it can change your life. So put on your hiking pants and get going!
This popular summer hiking trail to falls in Olallie State Park is less traveled in the autumn. The 2.6-mile round trip leads to the riverbank and ascends to 1000 feet for hikers who want the view of the falls from The Benches hillside. The trail can be windy and misty, but it is worth the view. From this point, the path leads down towards the river and the Big Tree area.
This is a new trail past a rockslide. The trail then climbs up to the second hill where the Forest Service has cut in a set of descending steps to the river and Ben Bridge. The view includes the cascading falls. The park has six miles of well-marked hiking trails that also connect to the mountain bike trails.
Olallie and Talapus Lakes
This trail begins on a forest road east of the State Park off of I-90. It is part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area that extends along the Cascade Mountains with connections to the Pacific Coast Trail. The hike to Talapus and Olallie lakes is an easy 5.8 miles along a trail with raised bridges and boardwalks over a swampy area. A short climb and marked walkways lead to Talapus Creek and a waterfall at the 1.3-mile point before reaching the lake. Another trail leads about three miles to Olallie Lake and other cutoff trails.
This hike is recommended for early fall while the weather is still mild. The Alpine Lakes region receives snow during the winter.
The is another lake near the Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 less than an hour from the Seattle area. The four-mile roundtrip trail has a gentle climb of about 1.5 miles from Rattlesnake Lake that rises about 1000 feet to the ledge offering a great view of the Southern Cascades. Mt. Rainier is visible in the distance on a clear day.
There are several other trails in this area and hikers are advised to consult the U.S. Forest Service office for trail conditions and to check weather information.
Discovery Park in the Magnolia section of Seattle allows hikers to discover the beauty of Puget Sound with a 2.8-mile loop trail that wanders across meadows and forest. The peak offers the stunning view of the Sound, Bainbridge Island, and the Kitsap Peninsula in the distance. The Olympic Peninsula with its 8000-foot peaks looms to the west while the city skyline is visible to the south and east.
This park also offers a walk along the shoreline of Salmon Bay. This is an urban environment, and a conducted tour gives hikers an insight into the conservation efforts to preserve this area.
Be prepared for rain!
Seattle is famous for a couple of more things – our food, coffee, and culture. Hopefully, you’ve also gotten a feel for our amazing hiking destinations. Unfortunately, we’re also famous for rain.
When you go for Fall hikes in Seattle, come prepared, so your trip doesn’t get cut short. You can do this by owning a pair of KÜHL waterproof jackets such as JETSTREAM™ or AIRSTORM™. They also have stylish women’s outerwear: I recommend having a look at AIRSTORM™ rain jacket, JETSTREAM™ trench, or JETSTREAM™ jacket.
KÜHL rain jackets are made with waterproof materials for high-tech protection against rain and UV rays. However, they also feature incredibly breathable fabrics and lining for all nature enthusiasts. That means you can protect yourself from both heat and rain.
On top of that, they offer other clothes made from waterproof materials. Everything they have is comfortable, fashionable, and perfect for any challenge nature throws your way. So check out their shop before you hit the trails!
Featured Image by John Westrock.