Outdoor Enthusiast's Guide to Seattle - Seattle's Tall Ship

Seattle, often dubbed the Emerald City, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounded by water, mountains, and lush forests, the city offers a plethora of activities for those who love to explore the great outdoors. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, or water sports, Seattle provides endless opportunities to connect with nature. This guide will take you through some of the best outdoor activities in and around Seattle, ensuring you make the most of your time in this vibrant city.

Hiking in Seattle: Trails for All Levels

Seattle is a haven for hikers, with trails that cater to all skill levels, from easy walks to challenging climbs.

1. Mount Si

Mount Si is one of the most popular hikes near Seattle, located about 40 miles east of the city. This 8-mile round trip hike offers a challenging ascent with an elevation gain of 3,150 feet. The reward at the top is a breathtaking panoramic view of the Snoqualmie Valley, Mount Rainier, and the Cascade Range. It’s a great workout and a perfect way to experience the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

2. Rattlesnake Ledge

For a shorter but equally rewarding hike, Rattlesnake Ledge is a fantastic option. This 4-mile round trip trail is located near North Bend and features a steady climb to a rocky outcrop that offers stunning views of Rattlesnake Lake and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great hike for families and beginners looking for a moderate challenge.

3. Discovery Park

For those who prefer a more leisurely hike within the city limits, Discovery Park is an excellent choice. This 534-acre park in the Magnolia neighborhood offers over 11 miles of trails through forests, meadows, and along the shores of Puget Sound. The Loop Trail is particularly popular, providing a comprehensive tour of the park’s diverse ecosystems and stunning views of the water and mountains.

Biking in Seattle: Trails and Routes

Seattle is a bike-friendly city with a growing network of trails and bike lanes that make it easy to explore on two wheels.

1. Burke-Gilman Trail

The Burke-Gilman Trail is a 27-mile multi-use trail that stretches from Ballard to Bothell. This scenic route follows the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Lake Washington, providing beautiful views and a smooth, paved path perfect for biking. The trail connects several parks, neighborhoods, and attractions, making it a great way to see the city and get some exercise.

2. Alki Trail

For a waterfront biking experience, the Alki Trail in West Seattle is a must-visit. This 5.5-mile trail runs along Alki Beach, offering stunning views of the Seattle skyline, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains. It’s a relatively flat and easy ride, making it ideal for families and casual cyclists. There are plenty of spots to stop for a coffee, ice cream, or a bite to eat along the way.

3. Mountains to Sound Greenway

For more adventurous cyclists, the Mountains to Sound Greenway offers a variety of challenging routes through the Cascade Mountains. This expansive network of trails and roads connects Seattle to Central Washington, providing numerous opportunities for long-distance rides and mountain biking. The Greenway showcases the region’s incredible natural beauty and offers a true wilderness experience just a short drive from the city.

Water Activities in Seattle: Lakes, Bays, and Beyond

Surrounded by water, Seattle is a hub for water sports and activities. Whether you prefer kayaking, paddleboarding, or sailing, there’s something for everyone.

1. Kayaking on Lake Union

Lake Union, located in the heart of Seattle, is a popular spot for kayaking. Rent a kayak from one of the many local outfitters and paddle around the lake, exploring the houseboats, Gas Works Park, and the bustling waterfront. It’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective and enjoy a peaceful day on the water.

2. Paddleboarding on Green Lake

Green Lake, situated in north-central Seattle, is a favorite destination for paddleboarding. The calm waters and scenic surroundings make it an ideal spot for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Rent a paddleboard from the local boathouse and enjoy a leisurely paddle around the lake, taking in the sights and sounds of this urban oasis.

3. Sailing on Puget Sound

For a more adventurous water activity, consider sailing on Puget Sound. The sound offers excellent conditions for sailing, with stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, the Seattle skyline, and the many islands and peninsulas that dot the waters. Several local companies offer sailing lessons and charters, making it easy to get out on the water and experience the thrill of sailing in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.

Exploring Seattle’s Natural Beauty

Seattle’s diverse landscapes and abundant green spaces make it an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Here are a few additional tips for making the most of your outdoor adventures in Seattle:

1. Pack Accordingly

Seattle’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to pack layers and be prepared for changing conditions. A waterproof jacket, comfortable hiking boots, and a hat are essential for any outdoor activity in the Pacific Northwest.

2. Respect Wildlife

Seattle’s parks and natural areas are home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and even the occasional bear or cougar. Always respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance, not feeding animals, and following Leave No Trace principles.

3. Plan Ahead

Popular trails and parks can get crowded, especially on weekends and during the summer months. Plan your visits during off-peak times if possible, and always check trail conditions and weather forecasts before heading out.

4. Use Local Resources

There are many local organizations and resources available to help you plan your outdoor adventures in Seattle. Websites like the Washington Trails Association (WTA) and Seattle Parks and Recreation offer detailed information on trails, parks, and outdoor activities.

Seattle is a city that embraces the outdoors, offering a wealth of activities for hiking, biking, and water sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re scaling the heights of Mount Si, cycling along the Burke-Gilman Trail, or paddling on Lake Union, there’s no shortage of ways to experience the natural beauty of the Emerald City. With its diverse landscapes, abundant green spaces, and a commitment to preserving its natural heritage, Seattle truly is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. So grab your gear, head outside, and discover all that this incredible city has to offer.


  1. Washington Trails Association. “Find a Hike.” WTA
  2. Seattle Parks and Recreation. “Parks and Gardens.” Seattle.gov
  3. Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “Greenway Adventures.” MTSGreenway
  4. Visit Seattle. “Outdoor Activities.” VisitSeattle

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