Washington State has some of the best hikes in the country, so it’s easy to see why so many people who live here consider hiking one of their favorite pastimes. While summer hikes are beautiful, there are also plenty of Washington winter hikes you can do throughout Seattle in the winter.
I’ve been hiking around the state for years and have started exploring winter hikes in Washington over the past few years. There are plenty of places to go this time of year ranging from the peninsula to the mountains.
Based on my experience, I’ve put together this list of the best winter hikes in Washington. Whether you’re looking for winter hikes near Seattle with snow or Washington winter hikes without snowshoes, you’ll find something for you in this post.
How to Prepare for Washington Winter Hikes
Here are a few tips to help you get ready for your Seattle winter hikes.
What to Know for Winter Hikes Near Seattle
Before you head out, make sure you do the following:
- Check your hike’s trail conditions on the All Trails app. I use this so much that I bought the paid version, as you can read recent reviews, see pictures of the area, and even download maps to use. When I read reviews, I always check to see what people are saying about the trail’s current condition and even if the drive up there is a bit sketchy in places.
- Check the weather. You’ll want to check the weather for the area your hike is in the night before as well as the morning of. You never know when the weather can turn, so you’ll want to be prepared. Certain parts of the state will have their main highways closed, such as trying to go hiking in North Cascades National Park, which closes winter and spring.
- Calculate how long it’ll take you. You’ll want to take into consideration the driving time there, how long you think it’ll take you to do the hike, and the driving time back. You may just want to book a nearby Airbnb cabin in Washington to cut down on how long your day is.
- Check the WTA website for alerts. The WTA has frequently updated alerts for Washington winter hikes so you’ll know if the trail is suddenly closed or there’s something else to be aware of.
- Bring your 10 essentials. While I’ll list extra items to bring below, make sure you have the 10 essentials for hiking.
What to Pack for Winter Hikes in Washington
You’ll want to wear the following clothing as the bare minimum, particularly if you’re going in snow for your winter hiking in Washington. These are a combination of clothes that are moisture-wicking and quick-drying as well as waterproof pants and boots that will keep your lower half dry. I have a complete list of winter hiking clothes that you’ll want to have for your next hike.
You can also check out my outdoor lover gift guide for more ideas of what to bring.
|Icebreaker 200 Oasis Crew Top||Outdoor Research Prologue Storm Pants||KEEN Revel IV Mid Polar Boots||Sweet Turns Lexington Hat|
I also recommend bringing along the following and at least putting them in your car in case you need it:
Where to Stay for Washington Winter Hikes
While you can easily do many of these hikes in one day, sometimes it’s best to get a place overnight. That way you can either stay the night before your winter hike in Washington and start first thing in the morning, or you’ll have somewhere warm and cozy to come back to. Here are some cabins I recommend staying in.
- This Leavenworth cabin is close to various hikes and has beautiful views of the area. (rates start at $147 per night)
- What’s better than hiking at Mount Rainier in the winter only to come back to this creekfront cabin? (rates start at $168 per night)
13 Best Winter Hikes in Washington
1. Scenic Hot Springs
Location: Stevens Pass
Length: 4.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Scenic Hot Springs is my favorite winter hike in Washington, which is why it’s at the top of this list. You’ll hike up a moderately steep hill and end up at hot springs – nothing feels better than soaking your muscles in warm water! You do need to make a reservation in advance, as only 10 people can come here per day on this Stevens Pass winter hike.
I put moderate to hard because it really depends on how much snow the area got the night before your Washington winter hike. The first time I attempted this without snowshoes, I had to go back because I kept sinking.
I was much better prepared the second time with snowshoes and poles, and made it to the top just fine. This is a pretty steep hike, as you gain a good amount of elevation in only two miles.
2. Lime Kiln Trail
Location: Granite Falls
Length: 7.0 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 625 feet
Lime Kiln Trail is one of the best winter hikes near Seattle, as it’s easy to do almost any time during the year. You’ll walk along a river in a mossy forest that’s a fairly easy hike. The trail does get pretty muddy here when it’s recently rained, so make sure to have a change of shoes in your car.
There are plenty of scenic places to take pictures here, including ferns and bridges. You’ll also love the historical aspect of this park, as you’ll find tons of artifacts the deeper you get into the trail.
The trail is the site of an old logging spur railroad, so you’ll find old bricks, part of a cast iron stove, saw blades, and part of a steel rail.
3. Meadowdale Beach Park
Length: 2.5 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 425 feet
One of the easiest winter hikes in Seattle is Meadowdale Beach Park. I love going to this park whenever I want to walk through a forest without driving far. You’ll walk a little over a mile down the trail and go down a giant staircase, which is helpful when you’re coming back up.
At the bottom of the staircase, you’ll see the creek flowing to your left. At the bottom of the trail, you can go left to a field with a picnic area or right to the beach. When the tide goes out, you can walk pretty far to explore the beach.
The parking lot is pretty small, so I recommend going earlier in the day (although winter isn’t as busy as hiking in the summer). If it fills up, just drive back up the hill and park in one of the neighborhoods nearby in a spot.
4. Franklin Falls
Location: Snoqualmie Pass
Length: 2.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
This is one of the easiest winter waterfall hikes near Seattle to get to, as it’s a fairly short drive. You’ll have a short trail to walk on through the forest and then end up at a waterfall. Depending on how cold it is outside, part of the waterfall might be frozen.
One note I do want to make is while the trail is officially 2.0 miles roundtrip, the road to the parking lot might be closed depending on how much snow the area gets.
When I went, I had to park outside of the gates, which added several miles to the hike. However, it’s mainly flat so it’s still fairly easy. While you don’t need anything besides waterproof hiking boots, the end part of it can be a bit tricky as you walk down a hill to get to the waterfall. I’d recommend bringing poles or going slow at this point on your Seattle winter hike.
5. Discovery Park Loop Trail
Length: 2.8 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 140 feet
Discovery Park is one of the best Washington winter hikes without snowshoes when you feel like getting outside. There are a variety of trails you can do at the park, but the loop trail lets you see a good portion of the park. The trail is also family-friendly and one of the best easy hikes near Seattle during winter.
I love this trail because it has a variety of terrain. You’ll walk through the forest, explore a meadow, and end up at the beach. My favorite part of this park is the lighthouse at the end of the beach.
Discovery Park is one of the more popular Seattle winter hikes, so parking can be tight. However, there are different parking lots here, so if one is full just head to the next one to look for a spot.
Location: Mount Rainier
Elevation Gain: Varies
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
One of the most scenic winter hikes in Washington is the Paradise area at Mount Rainier. Paradise gets an average of 643 inches of snow per year, so it’s guaranteed you can find snow up here during a Mount Rainier day trip any time during the winter.
You can come up here in your regular winter hiking boots early in the season, but I recommend visiting here for snowshoe hikes near Seattle for most of the winter season. Walking around with snowshoes is much easier with how deep the snow gets and you’ll be able to explore more of the area.
I recommend checking in with a ranger if they’re available to see what the snow conditions are before you begin. They can let you know a good area to go if you’re a beginner or areas to avoid with avalanche danger.
You’ll need to pay an entrance fee of $30 per car or buy the America the Beautiful pass so you can access any national park in the United States as much as you want. I also recommend buying chains for your car just in case you need them on the drive up for your snow hikes near Seattle.
7. Cape Disappointment State Park
Elevation Gain: Varies
There are various Washington winter hikes to go on at Cape Disappointment, so you can choose to do one or go on multiple ones in a day. One of the most popular ones is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Trail, which is only about one-mile roundtrip and leads to a beautiful lighthouse.
If you’re looking for long winter hikes in Washington, check out the North Head Trail. This 6.3-mile trail goes through the forest and ends up with views of a fort and lighthouse. There’s a moderate elevation gain at 1,190 feet.
After your hike, head north to check out all the things to do in Long Beach. There are restaurants, breweries, and shops to fill the rest of your afternoon.
8. Lord Hill Regional Park
Length: 10.0 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
I like coming to Lord Hill because it’s one of the best winter hikes in Seattle if you feel like making up your own trail. There is a huge network of trails here so you can add on multiple ones to make your hike longer if you want.
That’s why I put the difficulty rating of easy to moderate – you can do a few short trails if you want, or you can go up some of the steeper ones for a harder workout. This is also one of the good winter hikes near Seattle because the trail has a decent amount of coverage from the rain with the trees.
There are benches throughout the park, which is nice if you need a break. You’ll also see streams and ponds along the trail as well as old-growth trees. If you follow the trail south, you’ll end up at the Snohomish River, which makes a scenic place to eat your snack during one of the closer winter hikes in Seattle.
When you’re done, there are many breweries in Snohomish to check out, so this makes a perfect hike and brewery combination.
9. Ebey’s Landing
Location: Whidbey Island
Length: 5.6 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 260 feet
Some people prefer to go on snow-free hikes near Seattle, which is why I recommend visiting Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island. The area hardly ever gets snow due to its close location on the water, and it’s easy enough for most people to do due to a low elevation gain. One note I will make is you’ll be walking along a bluff by the water for a large portion of it, so make sure your little ones stick close to you.
This is a beautiful Washington winter hike when you want to take a day trip near Seattle that isn’t too far away. You’ll have views of the water and the mountains on a clear day, which always makes me feel relaxed when I do this hike.
Be on the look out for historic artifacts during your winter hiking in Washington, as you’ll see the house that the hike is named after as well as a blockhouse.
10. Olympic National Park
Location: Olympic Peninsula
Elevation Gain: Varies
I love going on winter hikes during a day trip to Olympic National Park, as the forest seems so magical this time of year. There are a variety of trails you can go on whether you want to be in the rainforest or by the coast. I recommend checking the current conditions before you go, as this area can get snow and some roads may close.
There are many Washington state winter hikes to choose from here. Marymere Falls is one of the best Olympic National Park hikes because it’s an easy, flat hike that leads to a waterfall. This makes for beautiful pictures if there’s a dusting of light snow. You can visit the nearby Lake Crescent afterward for more photos.
Another good one is Cape Flattery, which is 1.5 miles roundtrip and a Washington hike that’s safe in winter (you won’t run into any snow). You’ll walk on a boardwalk to be greeted with stunning views of the ocean at the end.
11. Twin Falls
Location: North Bend
Length: 2.6 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Twin Falls is at the top of the list for winter hikes near Seattle, as you won’t need to drive far. That means it can get crowded here, so I recommend coming earlier in the day.
You’ll want sturdy shoes for this winter hiking in Seattle, as the hill can get a little slick when it’s wet out. There are multiple places to see views of the river, so take your time to enjoy them and take pictures.
This is one of the short Snoqualmie winter hikes, so you may want a little something more. If you want to extend your snow adventure, you can book a snowshoeing tour in the area to explore even more on your Washington winter hikes.
12. Ozette Triangle Loop Trail
Location: Olympic Peninsula
Length: 9.4 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
The Ozette Triangle is one of the best winter hikes in Washington state if you want to be near the coast. While you can do this hike in one day, it’s also a great destination if you want to try winter backpacking in Washington. If you do want to camp overnight, you’ll need to get a permit and a bear canister. I did see a bear and her cubs on the beach halfway through my hike, so it’s good to be aware they’re in the area.
While the coast rarely gets snow, you will want to prepare for rain and potential wind during this time of year. Two-thirds of the walk is through the forest, while the other third of the walk is on the beach. The beach hike takes the most time, as you’ll be navigating slippery rocks and seaweed for three miles.
During one of the most scenic Washington winter hikes, make sure to check out Tskawahyah Island and Wedding Rocks while you’re on the beach. You’ll love looking at all the old petroglyphs in this area that were left from the Makah Tribe.
If you want to make a trip out of visiting the Olympic Peninsula, you can drive down a few hours south for a weekend in Ocean Shores.
13. Wallace Falls
Location: Gold Bar
Length: 5.6 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
Wallace Falls is one of the more popular winter hikes in Washington, as it’s easy to access anytime throughout the year. While most of the trail is fairly easy, there are a series of switchbacks that may cause beginner hikers to slow down.
There are numerous falls to admire here, and you can stop at the Lower or Middle Falls if you don’t feel like going all the way. However, if you’re up for a challenge, I recommend continuing on to the Upper Falls for amazing views during one of the best winter hikes near Seattle.
This is another good option for Washington winter hikes without snowshoes, as it’s far enough away from Stevens Pass that it likely won’t have snow. As always, check the weather conditions before you go.
By now, you should have plenty of ideas for Washington winter hikes to go on! Whether you go on winter hikes near Seattle or venture out further to the coast, there are plenty of places you can still hike during the winter season.