Don’t Hike Mt Si! Do these hikes instead

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1200px-Miners_climb_Chilkoot
Not actually the Mt Si trail: this is the 1898 Gold rush trail on Chilkoot pass in Alaska. However, except for the snow, Mt Si looks similar.

Summer hiking season is just around the corner (still quite a bit of snow in the high country for another month or so). As Washington’s most popular trail, Mt Si seems an obvious choice. I need to offer the following disclaimer: I have hiked Mt Si many times, with lots of great people, and a day out on trails, even if it’s a trail I’m not thrilled about, is a lot better than a day indoors! I’m sure I will hike it again.

That said, I don’t like Mt Si. There, I said it. It’s hard, boring, crowded and sports the worst outhouse in Washington, possibly in the entire United States, very possibly in the world. Due to the crowds, the alternative to most terrible outhouses (just using the bushes) is not very practical. Here you’ll find a step by step rebuttal to the main reasons people give for wanting to hike Mt St.

But it’s such a great workout!

Yes, it is. However, there are lots of places to get a great workout or prepare for that future tough climb, such as Seattle’s stairways and if you want to get out of town, there are lots of hikes of similar challenge in the same area but less of the other drawbacks like McClellan Butte (much less crowded) and Bandera Mountain (better views).

Rocks in the foreground and a large mountain in the background against a blue sky
Spectacular view from Bandera Mountain

But it’s close to town!

True, but not as close as Poo Poo Point and Squak Mountain, both in Issaquah! If those don’t gain enough elevation for you, McClellan Butte and Bandera Mountain (above) have similar elevation gain and are about the same distance.

a view overlooking a valley with a lake and a town
View of Issaquah and Lake Sammamish from Poo Poo point. In the foreground is the parasailing launch pad (it was smoky this day so the distant view is hidden)

But it has a great view!

True, but not until you’re at the very top. Bandera Mountain (above) has even better views, and you can see some great views before the top, same for  Rattlesnake Ledge (easier) and Granite Mountain (harder). 

sunrise sky with mountains, a valley and trees in the foreground
Sunrise view from Rattlesnake Ledge

But you can see downtown!

You can BARELY see downtown from Mt Si. If you want a really great view of downtown, try Poo Poo Point (above), Kerry Park, Alki Beach, the Washington State Ferries and the Smith Tower!

water and a city skyline against a cloudy sky
Downtown Seattle viewed from the Washington State Ferry

But it’s free! You don’t need a trailhead pass!

Not anymore. Now it requires a Washington State Park Discover Pass

But it’s THE hike to do near Seattle!

That’s not a reason to do anything!

Wherever you get out hiking this summer, Ordinary Adventures hopes you make the most of it, even if it is on the Mt Si Trail. We’ll be offering trip reports and suggestions throughout the summer for new hiking options, so stay tuned!

rocks in the foreground, hills in the background and a very large mountain against a blue sky
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Jennie Flaming
Jennie Thwing Flaming, Chief Adventure Officer: Jennie's life has been a continual quest for adventure (of the non-adrenalin inducing kind) from birth till now. Professionally, she pursues adventures in teaching, counseling and working to obliterate institutional racism for students in our region's public schools and also works as a tour and hiking guide. Previous professional adventures include working in schools in Seattle and Alaska, leading tours and managing tour guides and presenting traveling science shows and lessons with Pacific Science Center. She believes in sharing her beloved Pacific Northwest home with visitors. She likes to be outdoors and spend time with the people she loves. Jennie is born and raised in Seattle and has also lived in Alaska and the Netherlands.