Five Early Season Hikes near Seattle

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Spring shoulder season is my least favourite time of the year. A long cold Canadian winter spent with restless hiking legs and gear collecting dust in basements and storage units finally coming to a close but not soon enough. With a tough avalanche season and lingering snow showers in the Canadian Rockies I decided to take a trip to Washington State for some early season costal hiking. It took a few days but eventually muscle memory kicked in and I found myself standing atop mountains, reminding myself why we all continue to do this thing we love. And so I am sharing five shoulder season hikes in Washington State.

1. Mount Storm king


With bad weather in nearly every corner of Washington a trip to the peninsula seemed like the best way to start my spring trip in the Pacific Northwest. We hiked up Mount Storm King for sunset and, although it was overcast, the views from the lookout point were spectacular. This trail is rated a difficult hike and does include a few rope sections with minimal hands on scrambling required. The top of this hike is not the summit of the mountain but rather a lookout point over the lake below.

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation gain: 2065 ft.

A US National Park Pass is required to access this hike.

2. Hurricane Ridge and Sunrise Point

Photo by M.Matti

Photo by M.Matti

After camping at the Heart O’ the Hills campground located along the Hurricane Ridge Road we work up early and, in all honesty, I was feeling really lazy. With a slight inversion east of the lookout it was decided that we would pop up to the Sunrise Lookout point (which ended up being a great call) as it was less than one mile roundtrip and had minimal elevation gain. I highly recommend this trail if you are looking for something short and sweet with beautiful views. Hurricane Ridge is a longer trail and at the time that I hiked this the road to its parking lot was closed adding on additional hiking time/distance.

Location: Olympic Peninsula

Distance: 3.2 miles, roundtrip / 0.7 miles, roundtrip

Elevation gain: 650 ft. / 161 ft.

Note: A US National Park Pass is required to access this hike.

3. Lake 22

Photo/ Kyle Kotajarvi

Photo/ Kyle Kotajarvi

A series of switchbacks on a well maintained trail through the forest will bring you to this pristine alpine lake. There is a wooden boardwalk around the majority of this lake which makes it a really accessible hike for larger groups and families. With the increased traffic it is important to be extra diligent in remembering to pack out everything you bring with you.

Location: North Cascades - Mountain Loop Highway

Distance: 5.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation gain: 1350 ft.

4. Rattlesnake Ledge

Perhaps one of the most popular hikes in the Seattle area - located under an hour drive from the City Center this hike had been on my list for a handful of years but always took the back burner due to its popularity. With the majority of the trail being switchbacks through the forest it seemed like a good time to attempt this trial without the crowds. We had the lookout to ourselves for nearly an hour before the rain came in and we retreated back to the car. A definite early season grind with 1160ft of gain in 2 miles of well emanated switchbacks. Note that the parking lot for this trail closes promptly at 6pm so if you are thinking of going up for sunset there is a parking lot outside of the gates that will require an extra approximately one minute of hiking.

Location: Snoqualmie Region - North Bend Area

Distance: 4.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation gain: 1160 ft.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee: none

5. Franklin Falls

A perfect rainy spring day activity. The well marked and beaten path to this iconic waterfall is a short one mile each way with minimal elevation gain. We saw a lot of families with smaller children as well as, my favourite, dogs (on leash) along the trail. At the end of the trail lies the actual Franklin Falls.

Location: Snoqualmie Region - Snoqualmie Pass

Distance: 2.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation gain: 400 ft.

spring hiking gear guide


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