10 Best Fall Hikes near Seattle

Fall is the BEST time of year for hiking near Seattle! It’s cooler, less crowded and generally no bugs! In the Pacific Northwest we have an abundance of gorgeous fall color and hiking trails to enjoy them. So pack a hot drink, some soup in a thermos , some extra warm clothes and get ready to enjoy the most beautiful time of the year!

If you’re looking specifically for golden larch hikes, there are several on this list, but head over to my post that is all about the best larch hikes in Washington. A must read for larch lovers like me! By the way, my favorite winter hikes near Seattle are also excellent choices for fall.

Not sure you want to hike in the fall? Check out these gorgeous fall drives in Washington instead.

These fall hikes near Seattle are listed in order of closest to Seattle to furthest away.

Washington Park Arboretum – Seattle

orange and red japanese maples near a creek surrounded by green brush and fallen red and orange leaves
Fall color in the Japanese Gardens at the Washington Park Arboretum
  • Location: Seattle, just south of the University of Washington Campus on Lake Washington Boulevard. This is the land of the Duwamish and Stillaguamish people.
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: This is perfect for those who want to stay in the city and those who appreciate gorgeous urban green spaces! Make sure to stop in the Japanese gardens for even more beauty.
  • Length: up to 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: minimal
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash in most of the arboretum, but not in the Japanese Garden

Cedar River Trail – Renton, 30 minutes from Seattle

A bright golden maple trail along the Cedar River Trail, one of the best fall hikes near Seattle
Maple trees turn yellow and orange along the Cedar River trail in mid October
  • Location: Renton to Maple Valley (multiple places to start and end). This is the land of the Duwamish and Stillaguamish people.
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: If the weather isn’t great or you just don’t want to drive far, give the Cedar River Trail a try! If you want to cover more ground on this long trail, this also makes for an excellent bike ride.
  • Length: 17 miles (but you can turn around at any point)
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Common Ground for cupcakes or the Berliner Pub for an Oktoberfest, brat and pretzels!

Gold Creek Pond – Snoqualmie Pass, 1 hour from Seattle

A wonderful fall hike from Seattle (and all year!) Gold Creek winds through evergreen trees and near high snow covered mountains.
Gold Creek is a beautiful places to explore all year
  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass, just east of the summit. This is the land of the Duwamish and Wenatchi people.
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: This flat trail around the pond (you can go much farther if you like up the valley) features gorgeous mountain scenery as well as the stunning and vibrant vine maples in red, orange and yellow.
  • Length: 1 mile around the pond, but can go up to 4 miles into the valley
  • Elevation Gain: None, unless you go many miles up the valley!
  • Passes Needed: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Dru Bru for beer, Pie for the people for pizza, Bob’s espresso for hand dipped corndogs!

Lime Kiln Trail – Granite Falls, 1.25 hours from Seattle

The lime kiln next to the lime kiln trail. It's a stone structure with moss and ferns on it and an open hole where the fire was built. it is in a forest and has fall leaves on the forest floor
  • Location: Granite Falls, near the south end of the Mountain Loop Highway. This is the land of the Stillaguamish and Snohomish People.
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: Lime Kiln is a mellow hike without too much climbing that you can do in any weather (within reason) that’s not too long of a drive? What’s not to love!
  • Length: 5 miles round trip to the Kiln, 7 miles round trip for the whole trail
  • Elevation Gain: Up to 700 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Hanky Pies for coffee and breakfast and lunch sandwiches (and pie!) in Granite Falls

Lake Valhalla – Stevens Pass, 1.5 hours from Seattle

Calm, alpine Lake Valhalla with a rocky mountain on the opposite side of the lake. There are evergreen trees, gray rocks and bright orange and red berry bushes in fall color around the mountain across the lake
  • Location: Stevens Pass, along the Pacific Crest Trail. This is the land of the Snohomish and Wenatchi People.
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: A moderate day hike to beautiful Lake Valhalla, this has some of the most beautiful berry bush, mountain ash and vine maple orange and red colors around! There are huckleberries here too.
  • Length: 7 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Sultan Bakery, one of the breweries in Monroe, one of the wineries in Woodinville, or the Munchen Haus in Leavenworth

Headlight basin/Lake Ingalls -Central Cascades, 2 hours from Seattle

Mt Stuart has a dusting of new snow and is framed by golden larches on the Lake Ingalls Trail, one of the best fall hikes near Seattle
Mt Stuart with it’s first dusting of snow framed by golden larches as seen from Headlight basin on the Lake Ingalls trail in early October.
  • Location: Lake Ingalls is located in the Teanaway area in Central Washington, land of the Yakama people.
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: A spectacular hike with amazing views of Mt Stuart and surrounding peaks and golden larches in Headlight Basin. Watch for goats! This also makes an amazing fall backpacking trip.
  • Length: 9 miles (7.5 miles to Headlight Basin)
  • Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
  • Passes Needed: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: No
  • Best place to stop after: In Cle Elum at Pioneer Coffee, Roslyn Cafe for Northern Exposure nostalgia, and Roslyn Brewing for beer

Naches Peak Loop – Mt Rainier/Chinook Pass, 2 hours from Seattle

Bright red berry bushes and other colors line the Naches Peak loop in fall, but you might also be treated to a gorgeous fresh snowfall!
  • Location: The Naches Peak Loop is located at Chinook Pass on the east side of Mt Rainier National Park on the homeland of the Yakama people
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: this moderate hike has amazing views of Mt Rainier as well as surrounding mountains and lots of bushes and undergrowth changing color. Keep an eye out for possible snow!
  • Length: 4 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
  • Passes Needed: none
  • Dogs Allowed: Dogs are allowed on the first part of the loop only which is on the Pacific Crest Trail. The other part of the loop in Mt Rainier National Park is NOT open to dogs.
  • Best place to stop after: Pie goddess in Enunclaw!

Cowiche Canyon – Yakima, 2.5 hours from Seattle

Hikers enjoying the fall color and captivating geography along the Cowiche Canyon Trail in mid October
  • Location: Cowiche Canyon is near Yakima, the homeland of the Yakama people
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: A gorgeous canyon on the sunny side of the state with beautiful fall colors and a winery you can walk too in the middle of the hike!
  • Length: Up to 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: none
  • Passes Needed: none
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Stop during at the Cowiche canyon winery! And after, head to Los Hernandez for tamales.

Maple Pass – North Cascades, 3 hours from Seattle

Larches beginning to turn golden in late September with North Cascades behind as seen from the Maple Pass Trail
  • Location: North Cascades and Maple Pass are on the homeland of the Nlaka’pamux and Okanagan people.
  • Why it’s one of the best fall hikes near Seattle: This is one of the best hikes in all of Washington! Amazing views of the North Cascades and gorgeous larch trees along the whole middle part of the hike. Add in a good chance of seeing and hearing pikas and lots of other low land fall color and you have the perfect fall hike! The long drive to North Cascades National Park makes it worth spending a weekend and checking out some other amazing fall larch hikes in the area, such as Blue Lake and Cutthroat Lake.
  • Length: 7.5 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 2000 feet
  • Passes Needed: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: In Winthrop (closest services 45 minutes away), check out the Old Schoolhouse Brewery for beer and the Rocking Horse Bakery for coffee, soups and sandwiches! Looking for pizza? Check out East 20 Pizza.
Lake Ann Fall color Maple pass trail north cascades
Multicolored bushes line Lake Ann in late September as seen from the Maple Pass trail

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    Best Rainy Day Fall Hikes near Seattle

    Hoping for a sunny clear day with epic mountain views and alpine fall colors? Woke up to rain? No problem! Here are a few excellent hikes for late fall or any rainy day:

    • Twin Falls: A three mile round trip with 600 feet of elevation gain to a stunning waterfall that is even more beautiful in the rain. Old growth forests too!
    • Cougar Mountain: Multiple loops and options in this large park near Bellevue. This loop is my favorite in the park and perfect for rainy days!
    • Iron Horse Trail in North Bend: A lovely stroll for as far as you want on an almost flat, wide trail.

    Related: Complete Guide to hiking in the rain

    Golden larch trees are seen from below against a blue sky. Text reads: best fall hikes near Seattle
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    Jennie Flaming
    Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
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