Day hikes not to miss around Seattle

Day hikes not to miss around Seattle

Pacific NorthWest during the summer time is a treasure trove of alpine lakes, wildflower-filled meadows, gleaming glacial basins, thundering waterfalls and more. Over the past few years of living in the Seattle area, I have been fortunate to go on some amazing hikes. In general, I prefer day hikes and keep photography as my main objective, with swimming being a close second. Here is a list of jaw dropping trails, all accessible within 3 hours drive from Seattle and of moderate difficulty. I have linked to the WTA entries for the hikes, so you can read the fine print, and read the recent trip reports before you head out!

1. Maple pass loopThis is one of my favorite hikes for the kind of variety it offers. First of all, it’s a loop – so you don’t have to drag your feet on your way out! And the kind of variety that this hike offers is unbeatable: from ridge-walks to the beautiful lake Anne, and splendid views of high sierra. The favorite part is being able to pick huckleberries!

Lake Anne sitting pretty during the Maple pass loop hike
Lake Anne sitting pretty during the Maple pass loop hike

2. Colchuck lakeAn easy access to the Alpine Lake Wilderness on a day hike. Yes, you heard me right! A dream like landscape, be forewarned that you wouldn’t want to leave this place at all. The famed Asgard pass and the Dragon-tail peak loom high over the lake. This may be my favorite lake in the region – it gets warm enough for a quick dip in the summer!

Hardest part about a day hike - leaving scenes like these: Colchuk lake
Hardest part about a day hike – leaving scenes like these: Colchuk lake

3. Sahale Arm and Cascade passEven if you drove back from the trailhead, you would not be disappointed. The final 45 minutes of drive is on a forest gravel road, but the scenery is sublime. You will stop counting the waterfalls plummeting down the sheer rock cliffs.

Hikers making their way back from the Cascade pass
Hikers making their way back from the Cascade pass

4. Ingalls lakeAnother gem of a lake in the Alpine Wilderness, and accessible on a day hike. However, the terrain that you would traverse on this hike is so different from the Colchuck lake hike! Passing multiple eco-systems, the approach to the lake is as varied as it can be. The lake itself sits on a high-basin, with rocky cliffs of Mt. Stuart providing stark contrast. Many climbers come to conquer the Ingalls peak as well. Pro tip- hike-up the boulders on the left bank and you will gift yourself with killer views looking down at the lake.

Climbers descending down from the Ingalls peak
Climbers descending down from the Ingalls peak

5. Lake BlancaThis may be the most striking of all the lakes on this list. The glacial deposit makes the lake come alive with a  a turquoise blue color, and you just can’t stop looking at this beauty. This may also be the most brutal hike for your knees. With close to 4k of effective elevation gain, this is surely about the destination more than the journey.

Lake Blanca is one of the most unique lakes
Lake Blanca is one of the most unique lakes

6. Blue lake: my fall favorite. This one is pure larch delight all the way. Especially on a quiet autumn evening, the larches reflect perfectly in the calm waters of the blue lake.

Blue lake, better known as Larch lake, is an Autumn favorite
Blue lake, better known as Larch lake, is an Autumn favorite

7. Park ButteThis one is a slight departure from rest of the hikes on the list. No major lake on this hike, but the unobstructed and close-up views of Mt. Baker more than makes up for it!

Mt. Baker playing hide and seek
Mt. Baker playing hide and seek

8. Lake SereneThe easiest access from Seattle and the busiest trail, but Mt. Index is the biggest draw on this hike. Bridal veil falls on the way adds a great rest stop.

Mt. Index looming large over lake Serene
Mt. Index looming large over lake Serene

9. Eunice lake and Tolmie fire lookoutOn a clear day, this hike would reward you with some amazing views of Mt. Rainier. The fire lookout makes for an interesting objective and provides sweeping views in all directions. One of my favorite Rainier hikes!

Wildflowers on the slopes overlooking Eunice lake
Wildflowers on the slopes overlooking Eunice lake

About Praveen Maloo

Praveen is currently based out of Seattle, United States. He loves coffee, conversations, micro-brews, and intimate jazz music scenes. When its not raining in Seattle, he can be seen enjoying the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific North-West.


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