Guide to Seattle-Area Hikes for People Who Don’t Like Hiking
One of the draws to Seattle is that you can go out an hour in any direction and be enveloped by mountains, coastline, or small-town charm. (Read: Just. Plain. Green. And fresh air.) Many Seattleites spend their extra hours in search of a hiking trail to escape the day-to-day city gray, but not all of us are amped on daypacks, hammocks, and VW Vagabond camping.
The compromise? Day hiking options for the non-hiker. From the downtown city center, Seattle’s surrounding landscapes host mild hikes that have the scenery of a more serious trek, with no custom hiking boots or poles required. Grab your closest pack of friends, call an Uber, and split the fare. You’ll avoid typical trailhead parking wars, and these four options have a payoff to please even the grouchiest of hiking companions. Head out—the Evergreens are calling you.
The spot: Washington Park Arboretum | 2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle, WA 98112
The draw: With 20,000 plants packed in 230 acres, you’ll quickly feel like you’re centered in the middle of an old-growth national park when you’ve only marched 100 yards from the parking lot. The one-mile Lookout Loop takes you through rhododendrons, birches, maples, and magnolias, all designed to give you that lost-in-the-woods feeling, and a stroll through Japanese Garden is the definition of serenity.
The add-on: The vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood borders the park, and it’s dotted with Seattle’s most Instagrammable coffee spots. Be sure to fuel up. Try Volunteer Park Cafe & Marketplace for a belly full of Pacific Northwest goodness.
The spot: Discovery Park | 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199
The draw: Trails upon trails, which lead to other trails, then trail into the sea (or Puget Sound to be more accurate). The main 2.8-mile Discovery Park Loop is mild enough for all skill levels, but also branches off to scenic viewpoints, beach access, and an unobstructed coastline view. Hello, driftwood, ferry boats, and water-bound puppies.
The add-on: Have your Uber partner take your group the long way via the Magnolia Bluff. If you’re hungry, hop out, find a picnic table, and have UberEATS deliver lunch. You’ll dine with a backdrop of quintessential Seattle homes and a skyline view of downtown Seattle.
The spot: Rattlesnake Ledge | North Bend, WA 98045
The draw: Non-hikers may think you’ve seen one trail, you’ve seen them all—heavily wooded, tiny plank bridges, rock hopping—but with this hike a 2-mile moderate ascent leads to your photo op of the year. From the first ledge (there are three), here’s the equation to capturing the aqua-blue lake and summit vista: find your footing, tie flannel around waist, look out pensively, and post some inspiring quote about how vast the world is. Start early (and on a weekday) to fight crowds and engagement-photo parties.
The add-on: Lunch with a view. Since this is the longest hike on the list (about two hours round trip) pack a picnic to enjoy at the top. Seattle’s UberEATS restaurant partner list is growing, and you’ll find dozens of entrees to peak your interest.
The spot: Snoqualmie Falls | 6501 Railroad Ave, Snoqualmie, WA 98065
The draw: Not many hikes start off with the grand finale. Have your Uber partner drop you off at the Salish Lodge & Spa for direct access to the viewing deck. You can view all 268 majestic feet of the falls from top to bottom by hiking down a 3/4-mile trail to the river. The raging beauty gives a different show with the changing seasons, accompanied by mist, cool fog, and roar.
The add-on: Just before the falls, you’ll come across Historic Snoqualmie. One part railroad enthusiasm, and one part old-town vibes, you’ll feel transported in the mile-long stretch of knick-knack shops, local art, and outdoor eateries along Railroad Avenue.
Photo credit: Andrew E. Larsen