As sunny, smoky, summerlike weather stretched into September and October, it was hard to imagine our expected Pacific Northwest fall rains would ever fall.
There are many amazing hikes in and around Seattle to take with the whole family, rain or shine, making Western Washington a year-round hiking paradise.
Do as the Nordic do: Embrace the idea of friluftsliv and get outdoors this fall and winter! These five hikes will delight no matter how hard it’s raining outside.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd., Seattle
Boasting 534 acres and a robust trail system, Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle. There are 2 miles of protected tidal beaches, lots of tree cover, bluffs overlooking Puget Sound and stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier. One magical part of this beloved Seattle park: the number of trails to uncover, from paved paths to muddy trails and tiny pathways interwoven throughout the forests, waiting to be discovered by those who know the park intimately. Be sure to check out Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center on your next visit.
Bluff Trail at Ebey’s Landing
475 Ebey’s Landing Road, Coupeville
The Bluff Trail at Ebey’s Landing has it all. With epic views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains, and the option to hike a beach teeming with sea life, this hike is a perfect escape from the city, even in the rain. The loop hike is 3.5 miles, starting and ending at the parking area at the end of Ebey’s Landing Road on Whidbey Island. Taking the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry to get here adds an extra layer of fun on a rainy day. The trail skirts the edge of the bluffs looking out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then drops down via several switchbacks that take you to the shore. Connect to the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail to amble along the beach, where you may find sea glass, the occasional seal or an orca fin surfacing offshore. A family-favorite activity at the historical fort within the park is walking the World War II-era gun battery.
Cougar Mountain Wilderness Peak Loop
18201 S.E. Cougar Mountain Drive, Renton
The Wilderness Peak Loop is a gem in this massive protected park west of Issaquah. Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park covers roughly 3,000 acres and, combined with the 1,500 acres of adjacent Squak Mountain State Park, offers a huge swath of protected land just outside Seattle. Cougar Mountain has countless worthwhile hikes for visitors of various experience levels. Wilderness Peak Loop is just 4 miles long, but with 1,200 feet of elevation gain, it has its challenges. Featuring a bench at the top of the “summit,” plus boardwalks and bridges, this trail is engaging for hikers of all ages. The highlight of this trek: ascending toward the light as the hike uphill takes you from dense woods to trees that thin out the higher up you get, revealing classic Cascade views.
715 Holgerson Road, Sequim
The incredible Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Peninsula is the longest natural sand spit in North America. The spit is 5.5 miles long with a lighthouse at the end, a beacon on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A $3 entry fee for a group of four is a small price to pay to access the spit, which is accessible no matter the tide, but easier to hike at low tide. One of the draws of this area is the diverse bird life, as the spit draws more than 250 species of avian life to its shores each year. The New Dungeness Lighthouse, at the end of the hike, has operated since 1857. You can even stay in the lighthouse through its “Keeper Program,” in which volunteers help keep the lighthouse shipshape for visitors to enjoy. The spit is accessed via the Dungeness Recreation Area, just outside the city of Sequim. There are 67 campsites within this park, meaning the Dungeness Spit can become an overnight trip if you want to avoid a long day trip from Seattle.
Forest Road 2010, Arlington; near Hazel off the Mountain Loop Highway in the Darrington Ranger District
This trail is perfect for a long, easy walk on a rainy day. The entire trail is 8.6 miles out and back, with only 700 feet of elevation gain, and plenty of opportunities to admire the Boulder River running beside the trail. At the 1.2-mile mark, a waterfall comes into view; this is a great place to turn around if you have young, tired kids. Nearby, in Darrington, the former logging town, there are plenty of dining options for after your hike, like the Burger Barn, a fan favorite with milkshakes to die for. The Boulder River Trail is a great opportunity to hike among old-growth trees that haven’t been logged, to embrace the beauty of wet dripping moss hanging off branches and to wander through giant ferns that conjure images of prehistoric times.