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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 , some extra warm clothes and everything you need for a day hike and make sure you’re keeping track of time on these shorter days and get ready for the best scenery of the year! If you’re looking specifically for larch hikes, read here for the best larch hikes in Washington. Not sure you want to hike in the fall? Check out these gorgeous fall drives in Washington instead.

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!

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

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

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.

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!

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.
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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