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In front of a large, flat, smooth stone, a creek runs through a forest of evergreen trees.
Denny Creek.
George Cole Photo/Shutterstock

8 beginner hikes in and around Seattle

An introductory—or refresher—course for Pacific Northwest trails

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Denny Creek.
| George Cole Photo/Shutterstock

There are thousands of miles of trails in the Seattle area just waiting for you to explore them all. These paths lead to mountaintops and fire lookouts, past waterfalls and wild river valleys—and they’re all destinations worth a visit.

Some of us are waiting on being a little more comfortable in wilderness before taking those adventures, though. For many, the desire to stick close to Seattle is important, as many of the classic hikes in the Evergreen State are hours from town.

Luckily, Seattleites are blessed with incredible scenic local parks and lands that will bring even the pickiest hikers joy on the trails. While some other popular hikes in the area require steep treks to reach grandiose views, these easy-to-access parks and trails in and around Seattle are full of fun adventures and great scenery. Whether you are a beginning hiker or an experienced one looking for something close and quick, these trails could be a perfect fit.

From incredible views of mountains from beaches to lush forests full of ferns and flowers, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite, beginner-friendly treks to get you on your way to amazing hikes all around the Pacific Northwest.

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1. Carkeek Park

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950 NW Carkeek Park Rd
Seattle, WA 98177
(206) 684-0877
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Forests, a creek and beach access await you on this classic hiking and walking destination in Northwest Seattle. Found just off of 105th Street, Carkeek Park has 3.5 miles of trails along Piper’s Creek, leading down to the shores of the Puget Sound. With seasonal salmon runs, as well as views of the Olympic Mountains to the west, this often-overlooked park is the perfect urban hiking destination.

A wooden bridge zigzags through evergreen trees. Lee Hadan/Shutterstock

2. Discovery Park

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3801 Discovery Park Blvd
Seattle, WA 98199
(206) 386-4236
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While Discovery Park isn’t quite a secret, its hiking trails that feel like out-of-town treks are a kind of hidden gem. Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest public park, holding nearly a dozen miles of trails to explore. Your best bet on a scenic day is to take the Loop Trail, which is more than three miles long. Along this trail, you’ll have a mile of beach walking with a chance to walk to the West Point Lighthouse. Discovery Park is also Seattle’s best park to see wildlife, with more than 270 species of birds along with seals, sea lions, and even orcas.

A grassy hill dense with daisies above a large body of water, with a trail running at the top and evergreens in the background. Roman Khomlyak/Shutterstock

3. Washington Park Arboretum

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2300 Arboretum Dr E
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 543-8800
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Across the Montlake Cut from the University of Washington, the Washington Park Arboretum is another great place to hike right in town, highlighting the beauty of the region with the grandeur of a botanical garden. The arboretum has more than five miles of trails to explore, which are mostly flat and very easy to follow. Each month, the park offers different displays of plants blooming and flowering, making it a year-round favorite. While the area is surrounded by houses, the trails feel far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

A paved path runs forward through a green lawn, with cherry trees and evergreen trees lining it on either side. Shutterstock

4. Redmond Watershed Preserve

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21760 NE Novelty Hill Rd
Redmond, WA 98053
(425) 556-2900
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20 miles outside Seattle, the Redmond Watershed Preserve is a great place to get away and have enjoyable hikes through preserved lands. More than four miles of trails greet those who travel over to Redmond, with trails weaving through second-growth forests of Douglas firs, cedars, cottonwoods, and maples. This trail is a small taste of the wilds that you’ll find farther east as you go toward the Cascade mountains. Keep in mind that this is not a dog-friendly trail.

A calm lake surrounded by evergreen trees that reflect in the water. Two logs are floating in the lake, and the sky is mostly clear and blue with a couple of light clouds. Shutterstock

5. Ebey's Landing

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Ebey's Landing Rd
Coupeville, WA 98239
(360) 678-6084
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An hour north of Seattle, past Everett and overlooking the Salish Sea, Ebey’s Landing is a classic hiking destination that’s perfect for beginners. With 5.6 miles of trails and just 260 feet of elevation gain, this National Historic Reserve has amazing views, great birding opportunities, and even chances to see seals and whales. With Mount Baker and the Olympic mountains visible right along the sandy shores, this is a well-deserved destination for those in need of visual splendor.

A path down a shallow, grassy hill leads to a sandy beach. Shutterstock

6. Denny Creek Trail

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FS 5830
North Bend, WA 98045
(425) 888-1421
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Denny Creek is a popular summer and fall hike 49 minutes from downtown Seattle. Found along the I-90 corridor, this trail may be difficult for some—it’ll have you gaining over a thousand feet of elevation while putting in roughly six miles round trip—but those who do have the time and energy will love the trip. What makes this trail great for beginners is that it’s well-maintained and easy to follow, making it a perfect introduction to more serious hiking in the Cascades. The trail gets you into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, where you’ll have incredible views of the creek, mountains, and even waterfalls!.

A small waterfall drops in two tiers down a large, rocky cliffside, surrounded by evergreen trees. Shutterstock

7. Soaring Eagle Regional Park

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26015 E Main Dr
Sammamish, WA 98074
(206) 477-4527
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Found just 22 miles from Seattle, Soaring Eagle Regional Park is a fantastic, mostly overlooked introduction to the “Issy Alps” found near Issaquah. With 12 miles of trails to explore, the network of paths in the region are a great place to go when you need an escape from the concrete but don’t want to head all the way to Snoqualmie. Here, you’ll find a mix of forests and wetlands, which are home to deer, bears, and a variety of birds.

8. Cougar Mountain

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18201 SE Cougar Mountain Dr
Renton, WA 98059
(425) 643-5306
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We end with Cougar Mountain, as it makes for a great launching pad to exploring the longer, steeper trails found further from the city. Just 15 miles from Seattle, Cougar Mountain has more than 30 miles of trails to explore, each offering something unique and awesome. A favorite in the area is the Whittaker Wilderness Peak Loop. With boardwalks and forests alongside switchbacks and mossy rocks, the four-mile, round-trip trail gains more than 1,000 feet, giving you a great way to get into true summer hiking shape. There aren’t any sweeping views at the summit of this hike, but the experience is sure to whet your appetite and have you looking for more hikes in the Cascades.

A clear, dirt path heads straight forward through a forest with a floor full of ferns. Tree trunks frame the trail on either side. Shutterstock

1. Carkeek Park

950 NW Carkeek Park Rd, Seattle, WA 98177
A wooden bridge zigzags through evergreen trees. Lee Hadan/Shutterstock

Forests, a creek and beach access await you on this classic hiking and walking destination in Northwest Seattle. Found just off of 105th Street, Carkeek Park has 3.5 miles of trails along Piper’s Creek, leading down to the shores of the Puget Sound. With seasonal salmon runs, as well as views of the Olympic Mountains to the west, this often-overlooked park is the perfect urban hiking destination.

950 NW Carkeek Park Rd
Seattle, WA 98177

2. Discovery Park

3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199
A grassy hill dense with daisies above a large body of water, with a trail running at the top and evergreens in the background. Roman Khomlyak/Shutterstock

While Discovery Park isn’t quite a secret, its hiking trails that feel like out-of-town treks are a kind of hidden gem. Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest public park, holding nearly a dozen miles of trails to explore. Your best bet on a scenic day is to take the Loop Trail, which is more than three miles long. Along this trail, you’ll have a mile of beach walking with a chance to walk to the West Point Lighthouse. Discovery Park is also Seattle’s best park to see wildlife, with more than 270 species of birds along with seals, sea lions, and even orcas.

3801 Discovery Park Blvd
Seattle, WA 98199

3. Washington Park Arboretum

2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle, WA 98112
A paved path runs forward through a green lawn, with cherry trees and evergreen trees lining it on either side. Shutterstock

Across the Montlake Cut from the University of Washington, the Washington Park Arboretum is another great place to hike right in town, highlighting the beauty of the region with the grandeur of a botanical garden. The arboretum has more than five miles of trails to explore, which are mostly flat and very easy to follow. Each month, the park offers different displays of plants blooming and flowering, making it a year-round favorite. While the area is surrounded by houses, the trails feel far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

2300 Arboretum Dr E
Seattle, WA 98112

4. Redmond Watershed Preserve

21760 NE Novelty Hill Rd, Redmond, WA 98053
A calm lake surrounded by evergreen trees that reflect in the water. Two logs are floating in the lake, and the sky is mostly clear and blue with a couple of light clouds. Shutterstock

20 miles outside Seattle, the Redmond Watershed Preserve is a great place to get away and have enjoyable hikes through preserved lands. More than four miles of trails greet those who travel over to Redmond, with trails weaving through second-growth forests of Douglas firs, cedars, cottonwoods, and maples. This trail is a small taste of the wilds that you’ll find farther east as you go toward the Cascade mountains. Keep in mind that this is not a dog-friendly trail.

21760 NE Novelty Hill Rd
Redmond, WA 98053

5. Ebey's Landing

Ebey's Landing Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
A path down a shallow, grassy hill leads to a sandy beach. Shutterstock

An hour north of Seattle, past Everett and overlooking the Salish Sea, Ebey’s Landing is a classic hiking destination that’s perfect for beginners. With 5.6 miles of trails and just 260 feet of elevation gain, this National Historic Reserve has amazing views, great birding opportunities, and even chances to see seals and whales. With Mount Baker and the Olympic mountains visible right along the sandy shores, this is a well-deserved destination for those in need of visual splendor.

Ebey's Landing Rd
Coupeville, WA 98239

6. Denny Creek Trail

FS 5830, North Bend, WA 98045
A small waterfall drops in two tiers down a large, rocky cliffside, surrounded by evergreen trees. Shutterstock

Denny Creek is a popular summer and fall hike 49 minutes from downtown Seattle. Found along the I-90 corridor, this trail may be difficult for some—it’ll have you gaining over a thousand feet of elevation while putting in roughly six miles round trip—but those who do have the time and energy will love the trip. What makes this trail great for beginners is that it’s well-maintained and easy to follow, making it a perfect introduction to more serious hiking in the Cascades. The trail gets you into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, where you’ll have incredible views of the creek, mountains, and even waterfalls!.

FS 5830
North Bend, WA 98045

7. Soaring Eagle Regional Park

26015 E Main Dr, Sammamish, WA 98074

Found just 22 miles from Seattle, Soaring Eagle Regional Park is a fantastic, mostly overlooked introduction to the “Issy Alps” found near Issaquah. With 12 miles of trails to explore, the network of paths in the region are a great place to go when you need an escape from the concrete but don’t want to head all the way to Snoqualmie. Here, you’ll find a mix of forests and wetlands, which are home to deer, bears, and a variety of birds.

26015 E Main Dr
Sammamish, WA 98074

8. Cougar Mountain

18201 SE Cougar Mountain Dr, Renton, WA 98059
A clear, dirt path heads straight forward through a forest with a floor full of ferns. Tree trunks frame the trail on either side. Shutterstock

We end with Cougar Mountain, as it makes for a great launching pad to exploring the longer, steeper trails found further from the city. Just 15 miles from Seattle, Cougar Mountain has more than 30 miles of trails to explore, each offering something unique and awesome. A favorite in the area is the Whittaker Wilderness Peak Loop. With boardwalks and forests alongside switchbacks and mossy rocks, the four-mile, round-trip trail gains more than 1,000 feet, giving you a great way to get into true summer hiking shape. There aren’t any sweeping views at the summit of this hike, but the experience is sure to whet your appetite and have you looking for more hikes in the Cascades.

18201 SE Cougar Mountain Dr
Renton, WA 98059