clock menu more-arrow no yes
A Cougar Mountain trail.
Shutterstock

11 transit-accessible hikes in and around Seattle

You don’t need a car to hit the trails

View as Map
A Cougar Mountain trail.
| Shutterstock

To be a hiker or trail runner in Seattle is to know Interstate 90 intimately. I love spending time walking and running our region’s forests and mountains. Cliché though it is, it’s easy to temporarily forget about the stresses of real life when you’re huffing up and down hills which is good for the soul. Time spent driving on I-90 is not.

Luckily, for those who hate driving, and more importantly, those without a car who still want to access the region’s amazing natural areas, it’s possible to go hiking by transit both within the city and nearby. King County Metro’s Trailhead Direct shuttle service from Seattle to trailheads in Issaquah and North Bend is making this exceptionally easy during the late spring and summer when it runs, but there are year-round options for transit hiking as well.

Here are 11 great options in Seattle and along I-90. Google Maps, of course, is a good tool to plot your bus or light rail route to the trailhead. TOTAGO (short for turn off the app and go outside) and Transit and Trails are two more trip planning tools targeted at car-free adventurers.

Finally, remember, when heading into the woods, it’s important to be prepared and self-sufficient. Wear good, sturdy footwear and layers of clothes appropriate for the weather and bring food and water, a map, and all that good stuff. The Washington Trails Association (WTA) has lots of great advice for being a safe and respectful hiker.

Looking for a more overnight experience? Here are nine Seattle-area camping trips that are transit-accessible.

Need more hiking guidance? We have a wide selection of hiking maps for beginners, people with dogs, and more.

Read More

1. Carkeek Park

Copy Link
950 NW Carkeek Park Rd
Seattle, WA 98177
(206) 684-0877
Visit Website

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 2 to 6 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 28, 40, D Line

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~35-45 minutes

Located in far northwest Seattle, Carkeek is another remarkable forested park on the Puget Sound that can easily make you forget you’re in one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The woods are filled with crisscrossing trails that lead down to the beach where one can find bathrooms and water fountains. The Piper Creek Trail begins at 6th Avenue NW and NW 100th Place, behind the QFC on Holman Road. The 28 and the D Line both stop on 100th Place, less than a block from Piper Creek Trail. The 40 stops on Holman Rd.

Piper Creek Trail is a wide, gently graded gravel trail that takes you on a direct, one mile route down to the beach. Cutting left on the S Ridge Trail takes you on a more roundabout route up and down and up and down steep hills enroute to the water. Once at the water, you can make a loop by continuing past the playground and up to the N Bluff Trail and Traverse Trail.  

Carkeek run views are worth stopping for sometimes

A post shared by Stuart Baker (@stuartbbaker) on

2. Discovery Park

Copy Link
3801 Discovery Park Blvd
Seattle, WA 98199
(206) 386-4236
Visit Website

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 0 to 5 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 19, 24, 33

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~35 minutes

Located in the corner of northwest corner of Magnolia, Discovery Park is an urban gem. The former Army Post has forest, meadow, a beach, a lighthouse, and old officer housing. The 33 and 24 drop you off just a block or two, respectively, from the eastern entrance near the main park office where there’s bathrooms and an information desk. There’s a 19 stop on the south end of the park.

The classic choice is the 2.8-mile Loop Trail which takes you through the woods and meadows to the park’s literal and figurative highpoint: a bluff overlooking Puget Sound that offers a great view of the downtown skyline. If you’re looking for more you can drop down to the beach and lighthouse before hiking back up to the Loop Trail.

A post shared by Manny (@manny_saurus) on

3. Schmitz Preserve Park

Copy Link
5551 SW Admiral Way
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 684-4075
Visit Website

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 1 to 3 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 50, 56, 57

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~22-30 minutes

At 53 acres, Schmitz is not a big park, but it more than makes up for it with the quality of its forest. It is one of just a few places in Seattle where you can find old growth trees. The north end of the park is accessed off Admiral Way which has nearby stops for the 50 and 56 bus. The 57 bus stops at 49th Ave SW and Hinds St, less than a block from the east entrance to the park.

There are only a few trails through the park, but it’s fun to loop around exploring the forest and admiring the ancient trees. The Schmitz to Alki trail runs through the center of the park and, as its name implies, will take you northwest to Alki Beach via the Alki Playground Park.

4. Cougar Mountain

Copy Link
Cougar Mountain
Bellevue, WA

Region: Issaquah

Hiking Distance: 3 to 15 miles

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle or Sound Transit Express bus 554

Travel Time from International District: ~30 minutes

The westernmost Issaquah Alp, Cougar Mountain is a very popular hiking and trail running destination. Like Squak, it doesn’t offer much in the way of mountain top vistas, but it makes up for it with dozens of miles of trails winding through beautiful forest and past streams and waterfalls. The Sound Transit 554 bus goes from 5th Ave and Jackson St to the Issaquah Transit Center. From the transit center it’s a .7 mile walk west on Newport Way to the Precipice Bottom Trailhead. From there, a hike on Cougar could be as long or short as you want. Popular destinations include Wilderness Peak (the mountain’s 1,600-foot high point), the remnants of the decommissioned Nike Missile Defense installation, and Coal Creek Falls.

5. Seward Park

Copy Link
Seward Park
Seattle, WA 98118

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 1 to 5 miles

Transit options: Link Light Rail to Metro Bus 50

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~40 minutes

Jutting out on a peninsula into Lake Washington, Seward Park is a southeast Seattle classic with thick, lush forest, lots of trails, and lots of good waterfront grass on which to post up and have a picnic. The Metro 50 bus stops at Seward Park Ave and Juneau St, just one block from the park entrance. The 50 runs from West Seattle through Sodo to Columbia City and Seward Park. If you’re coming from the north the best way to catch it is by taking light rail to the Columbia City station. The 50 stops on Alaska St less than a block from the light rail station.

At the entrance, you’ll find the Seward Park Audubon Center, bathrooms, a playground, a water fountain, and even a swimming beach staffed by lifeguards in the summer. There’s a two-mile paved loop around the entire peninsula that’s popular with walkers, runners, and bicyclists. Starting from the upper parking area, the wide, gravel Spine Trail traverses through the forest to the tip of the peninsula. To the west-northwest of the Spine Trail, you’ll find narrower, more primitive dirt trails that roll up and down hills and make for a great hike or run.

This map point originally referred to the Seward Park Audubon Center as Seattle Audubon Center, when the two are separate organizations.

6. Westcrest Park

Copy Link
9000 8th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106
(206) 684-4075
Visit Website

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: .1 to more than 5 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 131 and 60

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~45-60 minutes

Just above the southern city limits in West Seattle, Westcrest Park has a choose-your-own-adventure network of interconnecting trails (see Seattle Trails’s map here) at gentle-to-moderate difficulty, lined with Douglas fir, red cedar, maple, and madrone trees. Westcrest is among Seattle’s largest parks, and offers plenty of opportunities for exploration, although WTA notes that it’s easy to stray off the path if you’re not careful.

Westcrest is especially popular among dog owners, thanks to its massive dog park, and it’s common to see leashed dogs on the trails. But it also has off-leash trails around the perimeter of the dog park: one half-mile loop around the main off-leash area, and an extremely short, .1-mile stroll around the small-dog area.

7. Squak Mountain

Copy Link
Squak Mountain
Issaquah, WA 98027

Region: Issaquah

Hiking Distance: 5.5 to 7 miles

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle

Travel Time from Mt. Baker Transit Center: ~35 minutes

One of the Issaquah Alps that rise up from the Issaquah valley floor, Squak Mountain is a classic hiking destination that doesn’t see quite as much foot traffic as its neighbors Cougar and Tiger Mountains. Squak’s Margaret’s Way Trailhead is the first stop on Metro’s Trailhead Direct shuttle from the Mt. Baker Transit Center across the street from the Mt. Baker light rail station.

From Margaret’s Way, it’s a 2.75-mile hike up fairly steep switchbacks to Debbie’s Viewpoint, one of the best overlooks on the mountain. On a clear day it provides great views of Rainier. Another mile up the mountain on the appropriately named Bullitt Fireplace Trail, you’ll find a giant stone fireplace, the only remaining feature of the Bullitt Family summer home. The summit of Squak, about 3.5 miles from the trailhead, doesn’t provide much in the way of views, but it’s always satisfying to make it to the top.

8. Kubota Garden

Copy Link
9817 55th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 725-5060
Visit Website

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 1 to 2 miles

Transit options: Metro bus 106

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~45 minutes

A trip through Kubota Garden is more akin to a stroll than a hike, but it is one of the best parks in the city and the Metro 106 route stops just across the street from the entrance. Once the private garden of emigrant Fujitaro Kubota, the Japanese garden has amazing plants and trees, ponds and streams, and bridges. The main paths make for a beautiful walk, but exploring the little side paths through the forests and hedges and bridges is the best way to experience the park.

A post shared by Kubota Garden (@kubotagarden) on

9. Mount Si

Copy Link

Region: North Bend

Hiking Distance: 8 miles (with 3,150 feet of climbing)

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle

Travel Time from Capitol Hill: ~50 minutes

Getting to Mount Si from Seattle without a car used to be a three-bus proposition, one of which only ran on weekdays. Beginning on May 19, Trailhead Direct will provide a shuttle from the Capitol Hill light rail station to the Mount Si trailhead.

Si is arguably the classic Seattle-area hike. It’s in the opening credits of the original Twin Peaks. Everyone at your office has probably hiked it at least once. All that notoriety also means it’s one of the most popular hikes in the area. But popular does not mean easy. It gains 3,150 feet in just 4 miles. Your legs will be burning on the way up and back down, but on a clear day the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains make it worth the temporary suffering. See WTA’s hiking guide for detailed instructions.

10. Teneriffe Falls

Copy Link

Region: North Bend

Hiking Distance: 5.4 miles (with 1,585 feet of climbing)

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle

Travel Time from Capitol Hill: ~50 minutes

Mount Teneriffe is Mount Si’s next door neighbor and will be served by the same Trailhead Direct shuttle as Si beginning May 19. The full hike to the peak is a challenging 14 miles round trip with over 3,000 feet of climbing. Which is why many people instead choose to hike to the scenic Teneriffe Falls, making for a 5.4-mile round trip hike with just 1,585 feet of climbing.

You’ll certainly still feel the dozens of switchbacks to the falls and back. But the tall, cascading waterfall is a worthy destination. See WTA’s hiking guide for detailed instructions.

A post shared by Vanessa R (@adventuresoffinder) on

11. Poo Poo Point

Copy Link

Region: Issaquah

Hiking Distance: 3.8 to 7.2 miles

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle or Sound Transit Express bus 554

Travel Time from Mt. Baker Transit Center: ~40 minutes

Poo Poo Point is an open grassy knoll on the west wide of Tiger Mountain. Supposedly it’s named for the sound of train steam whistles that loggers could hear while working on Tiger. Looming above downtown Issaquah, it’s another urban hiking gem. Those that hoof it up the steep slopes are rewarded with great views of Lake Washington and the surrounding foothills. Paragliders use it as a launch point. Kicking back and watching them float through the air makes for a lovely mid-hike break.

The Trailhead Direct shuttle provides two options for getting to Poo Poo. Chirco Trail is the shorter way to the top. It’s only 1.9 miles each way. But covering the same elevation in fewer miles, of course, means it’s the steeper option of the two. High School Trail is the longer, but somewhat less steep option. See the WTA guide for detailed directions. It is possible to get close to the High School Trail trailhead without Trailhead Direct. Sound Transit’s 554 bus goes from the International District to downtown Issaquah. From there it’s about a half mile walk to the start of High School trail.

A post shared by Tran Nguyen (@tmanguyen) on

Loading comments...

1. Carkeek Park

950 NW Carkeek Park Rd, Seattle, WA 98177

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 2 to 6 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 28, 40, D Line

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~35-45 minutes

Located in far northwest Seattle, Carkeek is another remarkable forested park on the Puget Sound that can easily make you forget you’re in one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The woods are filled with crisscrossing trails that lead down to the beach where one can find bathrooms and water fountains. The Piper Creek Trail begins at 6th Avenue NW and NW 100th Place, behind the QFC on Holman Road. The 28 and the D Line both stop on 100th Place, less than a block from Piper Creek Trail. The 40 stops on Holman Rd.

Piper Creek Trail is a wide, gently graded gravel trail that takes you on a direct, one mile route down to the beach. Cutting left on the S Ridge Trail takes you on a more roundabout route up and down and up and down steep hills enroute to the water. Once at the water, you can make a loop by continuing past the playground and up to the N Bluff Trail and Traverse Trail.  

950 NW Carkeek Park Rd
Seattle, WA 98177

2. Discovery Park

3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 0 to 5 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 19, 24, 33

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~35 minutes

Located in the corner of northwest corner of Magnolia, Discovery Park is an urban gem. The former Army Post has forest, meadow, a beach, a lighthouse, and old officer housing. The 33 and 24 drop you off just a block or two, respectively, from the eastern entrance near the main park office where there’s bathrooms and an information desk. There’s a 19 stop on the south end of the park.

The classic choice is the 2.8-mile Loop Trail which takes you through the woods and meadows to the park’s literal and figurative highpoint: a bluff overlooking Puget Sound that offers a great view of the downtown skyline. If you’re looking for more you can drop down to the beach and lighthouse before hiking back up to the Loop Trail.

3801 Discovery Park Blvd
Seattle, WA 98199

3. Schmitz Preserve Park

5551 SW Admiral Way, Seattle, WA 98116

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 1 to 3 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 50, 56, 57

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~22-30 minutes

At 53 acres, Schmitz is not a big park, but it more than makes up for it with the quality of its forest. It is one of just a few places in Seattle where you can find old growth trees. The north end of the park is accessed off Admiral Way which has nearby stops for the 50 and 56 bus. The 57 bus stops at 49th Ave SW and Hinds St, less than a block from the east entrance to the park.

There are only a few trails through the park, but it’s fun to loop around exploring the forest and admiring the ancient trees. The Schmitz to Alki trail runs through the center of the park and, as its name implies, will take you northwest to Alki Beach via the Alki Playground Park.

5551 SW Admiral Way
Seattle, WA 98116

4. Cougar Mountain

Cougar Mountain, Bellevue, WA

Region: Issaquah

Hiking Distance: 3 to 15 miles

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle or Sound Transit Express bus 554

Travel Time from International District: ~30 minutes

The westernmost Issaquah Alp, Cougar Mountain is a very popular hiking and trail running destination. Like Squak, it doesn’t offer much in the way of mountain top vistas, but it makes up for it with dozens of miles of trails winding through beautiful forest and past streams and waterfalls. The Sound Transit 554 bus goes from 5th Ave and Jackson St to the Issaquah Transit Center. From the transit center it’s a .7 mile walk west on Newport Way to the Precipice Bottom Trailhead. From there, a hike on Cougar could be as long or short as you want. Popular destinations include Wilderness Peak (the mountain’s 1,600-foot high point), the remnants of the decommissioned Nike Missile Defense installation, and Coal Creek Falls.

Cougar Mountain
Bellevue, WA

5. Seward Park

Seward Park, Seattle, WA 98118

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 1 to 5 miles

Transit options: Link Light Rail to Metro Bus 50

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~40 minutes

Jutting out on a peninsula into Lake Washington, Seward Park is a southeast Seattle classic with thick, lush forest, lots of trails, and lots of good waterfront grass on which to post up and have a picnic. The Metro 50 bus stops at Seward Park Ave and Juneau St, just one block from the park entrance. The 50 runs from West Seattle through Sodo to Columbia City and Seward Park. If you’re coming from the north the best way to catch it is by taking light rail to the Columbia City station. The 50 stops on Alaska St less than a block from the light rail station.

At the entrance, you’ll find the Seward Park Audubon Center, bathrooms, a playground, a water fountain, and even a swimming beach staffed by lifeguards in the summer. There’s a two-mile paved loop around the entire peninsula that’s popular with walkers, runners, and bicyclists. Starting from the upper parking area, the wide, gravel Spine Trail traverses through the forest to the tip of the peninsula. To the west-northwest of the Spine Trail, you’ll find narrower, more primitive dirt trails that roll up and down hills and make for a great hike or run.

This map point originally referred to the Seward Park Audubon Center as Seattle Audubon Center, when the two are separate organizations.

Seward Park
Seattle, WA 98118

6. Westcrest Park

9000 8th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: .1 to more than 5 miles

Transit options: Metro buses 131 and 60

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~45-60 minutes

Just above the southern city limits in West Seattle, Westcrest Park has a choose-your-own-adventure network of interconnecting trails (see Seattle Trails’s map here) at gentle-to-moderate difficulty, lined with Douglas fir, red cedar, maple, and madrone trees. Westcrest is among Seattle’s largest parks, and offers plenty of opportunities for exploration, although WTA notes that it’s easy to stray off the path if you’re not careful.

Westcrest is especially popular among dog owners, thanks to its massive dog park, and it’s common to see leashed dogs on the trails. But it also has off-leash trails around the perimeter of the dog park: one half-mile loop around the main off-leash area, and an extremely short, .1-mile stroll around the small-dog area.

9000 8th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106

7. Squak Mountain

Squak Mountain, Issaquah, WA 98027

Region: Issaquah

Hiking Distance: 5.5 to 7 miles

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle

Travel Time from Mt. Baker Transit Center: ~35 minutes

One of the Issaquah Alps that rise up from the Issaquah valley floor, Squak Mountain is a classic hiking destination that doesn’t see quite as much foot traffic as its neighbors Cougar and Tiger Mountains. Squak’s Margaret’s Way Trailhead is the first stop on Metro’s Trailhead Direct shuttle from the Mt. Baker Transit Center across the street from the Mt. Baker light rail station.

From Margaret’s Way, it’s a 2.75-mile hike up fairly steep switchbacks to Debbie’s Viewpoint, one of the best overlooks on the mountain. On a clear day it provides great views of Rainier. Another mile up the mountain on the appropriately named Bullitt Fireplace Trail, you’ll find a giant stone fireplace, the only remaining feature of the Bullitt Family summer home. The summit of Squak, about 3.5 miles from the trailhead, doesn’t provide much in the way of views, but it’s always satisfying to make it to the top.

Squak Mountain
Issaquah, WA 98027

8. Kubota Garden

9817 55th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

Region: Seattle

Hiking Distance: 1 to 2 miles

Transit options: Metro bus 106

Travel Time from Downtown Seattle: ~45 minutes

A trip through Kubota Garden is more akin to a stroll than a hike, but it is one of the best parks in the city and the Metro 106 route stops just across the street from the entrance. Once the private garden of emigrant Fujitaro Kubota, the Japanese garden has amazing plants and trees, ponds and streams, and bridges. The main paths make for a beautiful walk, but exploring the little side paths through the forests and hedges and bridges is the best way to experience the park.

9817 55th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

9. Mount Si

Mt Si, Washington 98045

Region: North Bend

Hiking Distance: 8 miles (with 3,150 feet of climbing)

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle

Travel Time from Capitol Hill: ~50 minutes

Getting to Mount Si from Seattle without a car used to be a three-bus proposition, one of which only ran on weekdays. Beginning on May 19, Trailhead Direct will provide a shuttle from the Capitol Hill light rail station to the Mount Si trailhead.

Si is arguably the classic Seattle-area hike. It’s in the opening credits of the original Twin Peaks. Everyone at your office has probably hiked it at least once. All that notoriety also means it’s one of the most popular hikes in the area. But popular does not mean easy. It gains 3,150 feet in just 4 miles. Your legs will be burning on the way up and back down, but on a clear day the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains make it worth the temporary suffering. See WTA’s hiking guide for detailed instructions.

10. Teneriffe Falls

Teneriffe Falls, Washington 98045

Region: North Bend

Hiking Distance: 5.4 miles (with 1,585 feet of climbing)

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle

Travel Time from Capitol Hill: ~50 minutes

Mount Teneriffe is Mount Si’s next door neighbor and will be served by the same Trailhead Direct shuttle as Si beginning May 19. The full hike to the peak is a challenging 14 miles round trip with over 3,000 feet of climbing. Which is why many people instead choose to hike to the scenic Teneriffe Falls, making for a 5.4-mile round trip hike with just 1,585 feet of climbing.

You’ll certainly still feel the dozens of switchbacks to the falls and back. But the tall, cascading waterfall is a worthy destination. See WTA’s hiking guide for detailed instructions.

11. Poo Poo Point

Poo Poo Point, Washington 98027

Region: Issaquah

Hiking Distance: 3.8 to 7.2 miles

Transit options: Trailhead Direct Shuttle or Sound Transit Express bus 554

Travel Time from Mt. Baker Transit Center: ~40 minutes

Poo Poo Point is an open grassy knoll on the west wide of Tiger Mountain. Supposedly it’s named for the sound of train steam whistles that loggers could hear while working on Tiger. Looming above downtown Issaquah, it’s another urban hiking gem. Those that hoof it up the steep slopes are rewarded with great views of Lake Washington and the surrounding foothills. Paragliders use it as a launch point. Kicking back and watching them float through the air makes for a lovely mid-hike break.

The Trailhead Direct shuttle provides two options for getting to Poo Poo. Chirco Trail is the shorter way to the top. It’s only 1.9 miles each way. But covering the same elevation in fewer miles, of course, means it’s the steeper option of the two. High School Trail is the longer, but somewhat less steep option. See the WTA guide for detailed directions. It is possible to get close to the High School Trail trailhead without Trailhead Direct. Sound Transit’s 554 bus goes from the International District to downtown Issaquah. From there it’s about a half mile walk to the start of High School trail.