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Best Winter Hikes near Seattle

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One of the most fantastic things about living in Seattle is that you can hike all year long! Sure, we have dark, short days and lots of cloudy days and rain, but you can still get outside and enjoy winter hikes near Seattle! There are lots of reasons to get out and enjoy a winter hike, including the mental and physical health benefits so it’s worth the effort to bundle up and learn where to go.

This post focuses on winter hikes near Seattle in the lowlands that are generally free of snow unless there’s a significant Seattle area snowstorm, which can happen once or twice a winter for a few days. Another great thing about living here is being able to get out and play in the snow even though you rarely, if ever, have to shovel the driveway! If you’re interested in trying out snowshoeing for some outdoor winter fun, read more about how to get started snowshoeing here and read about the best beginner snowshoe hikes near Seattle here and my guide to snowshoeing Mt Rainier National Park here.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase I receive a small commission at no cost to you.

When is winter in Seattle?

Winter in the Pacific Northwest starts sometime in November and ends sometime in February or March, depending on exactly where you are. In Seattle, November can be more like fall earlier in the month but is generally winter by the end. I have a post specifically about hiking in November since it’s such a transition month.

By mid February, Seattle is starting to have crocuses come up and other bulb flowers! The camellias bloom throughout February and March, though we can still have big wind and rainstorms at least through mid February. The transition from winter to spring is slow and unpredictable, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll say that winter is late November through February.

Seattle experiences big wind and rain storms periodically and during these times I recommend staying away from trails with big trees, which can fall during windstorms. During those times, I’d recommend taking a walk in a Seattle park instead!

What to Wear for Winter Hikes near Seattle

Read all the details here about exactly what I wear for a day hike in both winter and summer! For winter hikes near Seattle, it’s particularly important to wear:

  • A solid rainjacket: I recommend a waterproof shell without insulation and then having another layer of warmth underneath it. This will help keep you from overheating if you’re hiking uphill in our mild winter temperatures. I recommend either this rainjacket from REI which includes plus sizes or this one from Amazon.
  • Waterproof footwear: I often wear rubber boots like these on winter hikes, they are super comfortable and ideal for mud! Waterproof boots are a good option as well as waterproof hiking shoes.
  • A warm insulating layer: at least one layer warmer than you think you’ll need!

What to Bring for Winter Hikes near Seattle

You can read everything I bring with me on a day hike (winter and summer) here. With our short days and changing weather, it’s extra important to carry the 10 essentials and be prepared. A few pieces of gear that are extra important for winter hikes near Seattle are:

  • Headlamp or flashlight: This is the one I carry. If a hike takes longer than you expected, you might find it getting dark. It’s a good idea to get back before dark but I always carry a headlamp just in case!
  • Microspikes: These are like tire chains for your feet and can be super helpful if it’s icy! This kind you can get at REI work great, although the less expensive Amazon ones are just as good and what I use (they are also often available at Costco during the winter). They are light and easy to carry. You do NOT need these to do most of the hikes listed here, most of the time.
  • Trekking Poles: Poles are not necessary for hiking but I love using them and use them on nearly every hike! They can help with stability and balance and if you’re doing a steep hike they can help your legs out by letting your arms do some of the work. Make sure to get the kind with a flip lock rather than a twist, they last much longer! I recommend these trekking poles at REI and these on Amazon.
  • Extra food: When it’s cold, your body needs more food! Make sure to bring some extra food and maybe even some hot food in a thermos if that sounds like fun.

Road and Trail Conditions on Winter Hikes near Seattle

The Washington Trails Association’s trip reports are a wonderful resource for hiking across Washington state year round and are especially important to read in winter! The trail reports will tell you how accessible the road is as well as what the trail conditions are like.

The Forest service or park service websites can also be helpful in understanding road conditions, although I’ve noticed for road access the Washington Trails Association trip reports and hiking guide are usually most up to date!

Best Winter Hikes within 2 hours of Seattle

The best winter hikes near Seattle include beaches in the city, remote beaches, old growth forest, big mountain and water views and crashing waterfalls. They are listed in order of travel time from downtown Seattle.

Seward Park Loop – South Seattle

Dark green evergreen trees line the shoreline of Lake Washington in Seward Park on a foggy day.
  • Location: South Seattle along Lake Washington
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Seward Park is one of my favorite flat and incredibly scenic walks in Seattle to enjoy year round. It’s much less crowded in winter and still gives view of Lake Washington, Mt Rainier and downtown seattle. The loop lake trail is flat, wide and paved. If you want to explore more or do a longer walk, you can explore the many trails inside the park, including lots of old growth trees on the north end of the park. It’s much less crowded in winter and easier to find parking than the busy summer months.
  • Length: 2.5 miles for the loop (up to 15 with all the side trails)
  • Elevation Gain: None on the loop (up to a couple hundred feet if you do all the side trails)
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Beach Bakery on Rainier Avenue for amazing pastries and coffee, or Flying Lion Brewery or Northwest Peaks Brewing.

Discovery Park Loop – Northwest Seattle

A hillside in front of blue water with islands in the background on a sunny day.
Views of the Salish Sea from the Discovery Park Loop
  • Location: Magnolia neighborhood in Northwest Seattle
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: This is one of Seattle’s best trails and gives you epic views, forest and even a lighthouse in a short distance. This is a great place to catch a winter sunset!
  • Length: 3 mile loop (many more miles of other trails)
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Take this awesome self guided brewery tour of nearby Ballard!

Coal Creek Falls – Bellevue (30 minutes from Seattle)

Coal Creek Falls is a beautiful winter hike near Seattle. The waterfall has more water in winter and comes down a rock face in an evergreen forest.
  • Location: Cougar Mountain Wildland Park, Bellevue
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Coal Creek Falls is a spectacular waterfall that dries up in mid summer so it’s perfect for winter! You’ll feel a world away from the city even though you’re nearly in the middle of Bellevue! The rest of the hike is a lovely forest walk with opportunities for longer hikes with more loops.
  • Length: 2.5 miles round trip to the falls (options to make this hike as long as you like within the Cougar Mountain trail system)
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash

Rattlesnake Ledge – North Bend (45 minutes from Seattle)

The sun is just about to rise behind a mountain from Rattlesnake ledge, a winter hike near seattle. The trees and fog in the valley is just starting to become visible and the hillsides are sillouetted.
January sunrise from Rattlesnake Ledge
  • Location: Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area, North Bend
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Rattlesnake Ledge is a mountain view hike that is snow free a lot of the winter. It does get a bit more snow than Seattle so it’s good to check the trip reports and see if there’s any snow when you go. This is a wonderful place to watch sunrise, and winter sunrises are late enough to make it bearable! An unbearably crowded hike in summer, in winter there are far fewer people (though still more than you might think!).
  • Length: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1200 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash (be careful at the ledge!)
  • Best place to stop after: Riverbend Cafe on your way back to the freeway, Pioneer Coffee in North Bend, Volition Brewing in North Bend

Cedar Butte – North Bend (45 minutes from Seattle)

A partially clouded view from Cedar Butte,  with a distant hillside and a valley below. it is framed by two evergreen trees.
View from Cedar Butte
  • Location: Across the road from Rattlesnake Ledge parking lot
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Cedar Butte is literally across the street from Rattlesnake Ledge and much less busy! It starts on the Iron Horse trail and then goes up a forested hillside to a view of North Bend.
  • Length: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Passes Needed: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Riverbend Cafe on your way back to the freeway, Pioneer Coffee in North Bend, Volition Brewing in North Bend

Iron Horse Trail – North Bend (45 minutes from Seattle)

A converted trail bridge to a trail over a steep ravine covered with trees, ferns and moss.
Bridge over a creek along the Iron Horse trail in North Bend
  • Location: The whole Iron Horse trail goes across the state! An excellent winter hike is the section through North Bend. The trailhead is either the same as Cedar Butte, or you can start at the Homstead Valley Trailhead in Olallie State Park.
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: This hike feels flat even though it isn’t completely. It’s wide and graveled and a good option for biking as well as hiking. You’ll go through beautiful forest and past a couple of waterfalls, including a side trail to Twin Falls.
  • Length: 5 miles one way
  • Elevation Gain: minimal
  • Passes Needed: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Riverbend Cafe on your way back to the freeway, Pioneer Coffee in North Bend, Volition Brewing in North Bend

Twin Falls – North Bend (45 minutes from Seattle)

A wide and high waterfall cascades over a vertical rock face. There are trees and green shrubs around it on one of the best winter hikes near seattle, twin falls

Cherry Creek Falls – Duvall (45 minutes from Seattle)

A beautiful winter hike near Seattle is Cherry Creek Falls. It has two sides that plunge over a rock into a pool below. The waterfall is surrounded by evergreen trees and ferns.
  • Location: East of Duvall, northeast of Seattle
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Cherry Creek Falls is another forest hike to a gorgeous waterfall, this is a great winter hike when the falls are really rushing! Watch out for a creek crossing near the waterfall (rubber boots and poles are super helpful here).
  • Length: 5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: The charming town of Duvall boasts the Grateful Bread Cafe for coffee and pastries, and Valley House Brewing for beer and sandwiches.

Wallace Falls State Park – Cascade Foothills (1 hour from Seattle)

A high narrow waterfall comes down multiple cascades through an evergreen forest in wallace falls state park
  • Location: Along Highway 2 in the town of Gold Bar on the way to Stevens Pass
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Another forest and waterfall winner! This hike is absurdly busy in summer and while you won’t find solitude even in winter, it’s much more manageable for crowds.
  • Length: 5.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1300 feet
  • Passes Needed: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash

Grand Forest – Bainbridge Island (about 1 hour from Seattle, depending on the ferry schedule)

  • Location: Bainbridge Island, about 15 minutes from the ferry terminal and also accessible by transit.
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Grand Forest is a beautiful forest hike where you can wander a short distance or add on loops for a longer adventure. Close to Seattle but feels like you’re far away! This is one of several wonderful hikes on Bainbridge Island.
  • Length: Up to 6.5 miles in several loops
  • Elevation Gain: Up to 350 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
  • Best Place to Stop after: Try one of Bainbridge’s wonderful wineries, or the Blackbird Bakery, Sweet Dahlia Bakery or Westside pizza.

Oyster Dome – Bellingham (1 hour, 30 minutes from Seattle)

A view from a high place over water and distance islands on a sunny day
View from Oyster Dome
  • Location: Oyster Dome is located just south of Bellingham in the Chuckanut Mountains. There are a few ways to do this hike, read all about your options for Oyster Dome here.
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: It’s hard to find a big view hike that’s snow free in winter but this is a perfect one! In addition to a gorgeous
  • Length: 5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
  • Passes Needed: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash

Vashon Island – Up to 1 hour 30 minutes from Seattle depending on ferry schedule

part of a ferry boat and the shoreline on a sunny day
The short ferry ride to Vashon is part of the fun!
  • Location: There are multiple trails on Vashon Island, read more about your Vashon hiking options here!
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Island hikes are always a winner for winter hikes, since there are generally no crowds and lots of forest, beaches and views! Vashon is a getaway that doesn’t take long to get to and is an excellent day trip. Something that feels like a getaway but is close to home is a bonus on our short winter days.
  • Length: Up to 9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: minimal
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Vashon Brewing Community Pub or Camp Colvos for beer, Vashon Island Baking Company for locally roasted coffee and pastries

Deception Pass State Park – Whidbey Island (1 hour, 30 minutes from Seattle)

A view from a high bridge on a sunny day. There is churning water below and forested hillsides on both sides as well as islands in the distance
View west from the Deception Pass bridge
  • Location: Deception Pass State Park spans both sides of Deception Pass which separates the north end of Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island and Anacortes.
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Another extremely busy summer destination, Deception Pass has far fewer people in the winter. There are multiple hiking trails in the park on both sides of Deception Pass. Read all about your hiking options in the park and other things to do here.
  • Length: 30 miles of trails in the park!
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal to a couple hundred feet, depending on the trail
  • Passes Needed: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: If you’re driving south and taking the ferry, don’t miss Whidbey Pies at Greenbank Farm. If you’re driving north and towards Anacortes and Mt Vernon, try the Brown Lantern Alehouse or Calico Cupboard in Anacortes. In either direction, make a stop at Whidbey Coffee!

Boulder River Trail and Falls – Mountain Loop Highway (1 hour 45 minutes from Seattle)

Two sides of a high waterfall coming over a moss and fern covered cliff through the forest into the Boulder River
  • Location: Between Arlington and Darrington just east of the town of Oso.
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Amazing forest, multiple gorgeous waterfalls and solitude are what you’ll find on this mellow trail. Perfect for rainy days and sunny days all year round.
  • Length: Up to 9 miles (Boulder River Falls pictured above is a 3 mile round trip hike)
  • Elevation Gain: Up to 600 feet
  • Passes Needed: None
  • Dogs Allowed: yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: Try the Chaotic Bakery in Arlington or Hanky Pies in Granite Falls, featuring hand pies as well as other baked goods, coffee, breakfast and lunch. For the nearest brewery, check out Skookum Brewery in Arlington or the Lake Stevens Brewing Company

Ebey’s Landing – Whidbey Island (Up to 2 hours from Seattle depending on ferry schedule)

A bluff with forest and a spit of rocky beach below next to blue water with whitecaps on a sunny day
Incredible year round views at Ebey’s Landing
  • Location: West side of Whidbey Island, near the town of Coupeville.
  • Why it’s one of the best winter hikes near Seattle: Ebey’s Landing is one of my absolute all time favorite hikes ever! I especially like it in the winter when there are less people and I feel like I need to get out of town. You’ll feel a world away on this island escape with a beach walk, water and mountain views and a historic farm.
  • Length: 5.5 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet
  • Passes Needed: Washington State Discover Pass (for lower parking lot by beach)
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
  • Best place to stop after: In addition to a mandatory stop at Whidbey pies, Front Street Grill is a great place to get local and famous Penn Cove mussels and has a beautiful view. Whidbey Coffee has multiple locations on the island and has delicious coffee, food and pastries. Whidbey has multiple wineries and breweries, including Double Bluff Brewing or Penn Cove Brewing and Spoiled Dog winery.

Best Winter Hikes near Seattle -Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula has some of the most wonderful winter hikes near Seattle! It’s a wonderful park to visit year round and many hiking trails are located in the lowland forest areas or along the beach. Olympic National Park is a 3-5 hour drive from Seattle, depending on exactly where you go.

The Olympic Peninsula is a wonderful winter weekend getaway, either checking out the beaches and forest around Kalaloch and Lake Quinalt or on the north side of the park around Port Angeles. Since it’s such a long drive, consider making a weekend out of it and fitting in multiple winter hikes.

Olympic National Park is much wetter than Seattle and being prepared for rain and mud is crucial. Make sure to read the road status report for the park, especially in winter. Frequent heavy rain and windstorms can bring down trees which can temporarily close roads that are normally open in winter.

Outside of Port Angeles, the food options are extremely limited near Olympic National Park in winter. I highly recommend bringing food with you so you don’t have to drive around for hours trying to find something!

Olympic National Park has a $30 entrance fee per vehicle (good for 7 days).

Here are my favorite winter hikes in Olympic National Park!

Marymere Falls

A waterfall coming over a mossy cliff. The waterfall is narrow at the top and wider at the bottom as it drops into a pool filled with logs
  • Location: The Marymere Falls Trail starts at the Storm King Ranger station along Lake Crescent, just west of Port Angeles.
  • Why it’s a great winter hike: This gorgeous forest hike takes you along a river and through ancient old growth trees that rival the Hoh Rainforest. At the end, you’ll come to a lovely waterfall. This is a great hiking trail for rainy days and sunny days and is relatively flat. There is a short, steep climb at the end to the waterfall viewpoint with handrails along the side of the trail. The heavy rain and snow in the mountains during the winter months makes the waterfall impressive.
  • Length: 2 miles round trip (you can make it up to three miles by looping around the Moments in Time trail to Lake Crescent).
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Dogs Allowed: No

Quinalt Rainforest Trails

A large deep blue lake with shrubs and forest around it on a sunny day
Part of the Quinalt Rainforest Trails go next to Lake Quinalt
  • Location: Between Olympia and the Olympic Coast, along Highway 101
  • Why it’s a great winter hike: There are many hikes in the Quinalt area that connect to each other and display some impressive ancient trees! The trail passes along the lake as well. These are also great trails on rainy days.
  • Length: Up to 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash. This is a great area to explore with your dog since these trails are on Forest Service land instead of National park and therefore are more dog friendly. This is an excellent alternative to the rainforest on the Marymere Falls trail or the Hoh Rainforest if you have your dog with you.

Kalaloch Beach

tree roots hanging below a tree against a cliff
Tree of Life at Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park
  • Location: Olympic Coast, between Lake Quinalt and Forks
  • Why it’s a great winter hike: The only beach in Olympic National Park that welcomes dogs along several miles of beach is also wonderful for humans! The remote and lonely winter beach is enjoyable in all weather, especially if you have good rain gear. You can also see the tree root cave!
  • Length: Up to 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash. This is a fantastic beach to explore with your dog!

Second Beach

A foggy day on a sandy beach at the ocean. There are rocks in the foreground and forested and rocky islands in the water
The foggy sea stacks and rocks of Second Beach
  • Location: Olympic Coast, near La Push
  • Why it’s a great winter hike: Like other beach hikes in Olympic National Park, second beach has towering ancient trees and a beach less than a mile from the parking area. There is a short and steep downhill at the end of the trail
  • Length: 1.5 miles round trip, plus any additional beach walking
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet down to the beach at the end of the trail, and back up
  • Dogs Allowed: No

Rialto Beach

A large hole in a rock on the beach in Olympic National Park. Tidepools are under the arch and distant islands can be seen in the ocean in the distance
Hole-in-the-Wall is a fun destination at Rialto Beach
  • Location: Olympic Coast, near La Push
  • Why it’s a great winter hike: Rialto Beach is a wonderful beach walk and therefore enjoyable all year and in any weather. You can walk as far as Hole in the Wall, a unique rock feature covered in tidepools at low tide.
  • Length: Up to 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: None
  • Dogs Allowed: No

Hoh Rainforest

The sun tries to penetrate a deeply wooded and mossy forest carpeted in ferns
You don’t have to go far in the Hoh Rainforest to get a feeling of being deep in a magical forest
  • Location: Near Forks in Olympic National Park
  • Why it’s a great winter hike: The Hoh Rainforest is one of the most epic and famous hikes in Washington and for good reason. Ancient old growth trees covered in moss and surrounded by ferns make this green upon green landscape truly unique. You can do any length of hike along this trail and turn around whenever you’re ready.
  • Length: Up to 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Up to 300 feet
  • Dogs Allowed: No

Now you’ve got everything you need to plan some perfect winter 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!