I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the best hike for THIS day, THIS weather, THIS season. Sometimes it’s nice to just have some ideas that will be good for literally any weather or season: rain, sun, hot, cold, fall, winter, spring, summer. As you’re planning to get out all winter, here are 5 Western Washington hikes for any weather or season! Some of these photos were taking on sunny days, but all of them were taken in November, December or January.
1. Discovery Park, Seattle (3 mile loop, 200 feet of elevation gain)
The Discovery Park Loop trail is hikeable in literally any weather, any day of the year (on the rare days it’s icy or snowy some parts might be a little slick but you could avoid the hills if that was the case) and it’s close to home so you’re not far from warm, dry clothes and a hot shower! Since it’s Seattle, you’re never far from hot drinks either. This loop goes through the forest but also has some great views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains if the weather is clear enough. There are lots of additional trails so you could make a longer trip if you wanted and explore the beach or more of the trails. You could even walk to the Ballard Locks as well if you wanted a longer outing. You don’t need a pass to park here either! And, you can take Metro route 24 from downtown to get there on the bus.
2. Ebey’s Landing, Whidbey Island (6 miles, 250 feet of elevation gain)
The Ebey’s Landing Loop Trail is another fabulous loop (loop hikes for the win!) about two hours away from Seattle (waiting for the ferry can add more time) and has a spectacular view in good weather, but on rainy days you can still enjoy beautiful scenery and the beach as well as watching boats in Admiralty Inlet below. The trail starts from the parking lot and crosses some historic farmland before going along the bluff. At the far end of the bluff, the trail leads down to the beach for the return (if you prefer the high road, you can return along the bluff; alternatively you could walk out and back on the beach). I’ve previously talked about this hike and probably will again in the future. That’s how much I love it!
3. Middle Fork Snoqualmie River (up to 12 miles out and back, up to 200 feet of elevation gain)
The Middle Fork Snoqualmie is a beautiful and mostly flat hike that can be up to 12 miles, but you can also go any distance up to that as it’s an out and back hike. You’ll be in the forest and alongside a river. The trail starts on a bridge over the river and then you go to the right (the trail to the left is closed). You can enjoy this hike in a mossy forest along the river even if it’s a rainy day! There is rarely snow here as the elevation is only about 1000 feet above sea level. The long road to the trailhead has been recently repaved and is much less of a chore to drive than it was a couple years ago! It’s a bit over an hour from Seattle.
4. Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, Olympia (up to 5 miles, no elevation gain)
The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is another year round crowd pleaser! It’s extra awesome in the winter when there are no bugs or crowds and lots of birds to see. It’s completely flat and much of it is on boardwalks which makes wet walking a lot less muddy! There are a variety of trails that can be up to 5 miles. The refuge is about an hour from Seattle (double it during peak commute times)
5. Second Beach, Olympic National Park (4 miles, 300 feet of elevation gain)
I’ve talked other times about the wonders of the Olympic Coast beaches here and here and they are truly fantastic pretty much any day of the year. Year round make sure to wear waterproof (I say rubber!) boots because the mud is EPIC. Also, with rubber boots you can enjoy exploring tidepools during low tide. Second beach is probably my favorite, although it’s further away (4-5 hours!) than some of the others (others like Kalaloch are 3-4 hours away). All the Olympic beaches are worthy of a visit any time of year.
There you have it! 5 fantastic hikes that you can truly enjoy any day of the year!