Share story

One advantage of living in the Seattle area is you have the Snoqualmie region as a playground.

And even better, says outdoors writer Dan Nelson, “It doesn’t take a whole lot of money. A good pair of boots and a basic day pack will serve you for a good five years.”

Nelson recently released a second edition of his book “Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Region,” with photos by Alan L. Bauer (Mountaineers Books, $18.95).

Nelson’s book covers trails off Interstate 90, State Route 18, the west end of State Route 410 and U.S. Highway 97 from Blewett Pass southward.

There are deep, forested valleys, high, craggy peaks, dry pine basins, broad alpine meadows and high-desert steppes, “a huge range of terrains to explore,” said Nelson.

We asked him to name five favorite hikes from his guidebook. Comments below are his.

• Granite Lakes, North Bend. 12 miles round trip, beginner to intermediate, 2,100- foot elevation gain. Best time to go: May-November.

Nelson: It’s close to Seattle. It makes for a great day hike and open most of the year. And it’s a newly rebuilt trail, so it’s really in good condition. There are views across the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River valley to Bessemer Mountain and the Green Mountains.

• Kendall Katwalk, Snoqualmie Pass area. 11 miles round trip, intermediate to advanced, 2,700-foot gain. Best time to go: July-October.

Nelson: It’s an incredible part of the Pacific Crest Trail. The forest thins as the trail gains elevation. Red Mountain fills the skyline ahead while the wildflowers color the ground. The wildflower field is known as “Kendall Gardens.” At 5.5 miles, the gardens narrow to a mere path and the path disappears onto a broad shelf on the east face of the ridge. This is the Katwalk.

• Rattlesnake Dance Ridge Trail, Ellensburg basin. 2.2 miles round trip, intermediate, 1,200-foot gain. Best time to go: April-July.

Nelson: This is a good example of an Eastern Washington route. The trail climbs from step one and doesn’t let up until it reaches the top of the ridge. You’re hiking on a sagebrush-and-desert-grass ridge. There are great views downstream into the Yakima Canyon. You may even run into bighorn sheep.

• Thorpe Mountain, Snoqualmie Pass corridor (east). 9 miles round trip, intermediate to advanced, 1,000-foot gain. Best time to go: June-October.

Nelson: It’s a gorgeous view with a bit of history. It goes up to an old fire lookout station. You go through some great wildflower meadows and pine forest. There are stunning views in all directions — down upon Kachess Lake to the south and southwest, Mount Daniel and Mount Hinman to the north, the Stuart Range to the far northeast, and Mount Rainier to the southwest. Take your time here. It’s a special place.

• Cooper River, Snoqualmie Pass corridor (east). 6 miles round trip, intermediate, 500-foot gain. Best time to go: May-October.

Nelson: It’s a great, early-season spring hike. It’s lower elevation so it melts out before other Cascade trails. Start from the Salmon la Sac Campground and follow Cooper River up to Cooper Lake. There’s good trout fishing in the river and the lake up above.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or On Twitter @tanvinhseattle