The Seattle area and the Northwest in general both provide great opportunities for all kinds of backcountry hiking, camping and backpacking, from walking in a park to small day hikes to long expeditions. This includes families, couples, children and in many cases man's best friend. If you had to add a thing to that list of stuff to do before you die, at least go to Olympic National Park.
Around town Edit
There do exist campgrounds that are accessable with metro transit
- Tolt River campground, Carnation, Getting there
- Salt Water State Park, Getting there
- Dash Point State Park, Getting there
- Reviews of Local Parks and Campgrounds,
The Olympic peninsula Edit
The Olympic National Park has lots of possibilities, from day hikes and car camping to longer backcountry expeditions. There are glaciers, old forests and some rare temperate rain forest. From Seattle you can drive south around Puget Sound to Highway 101, or take a ferry across Puget Sound from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, or from Edmonds to Kingston, and drive from there. Travel time is usually two and a half to three hours from Seattle to Port Angeles, the main park headquarters. Make sure you arrive to the ferry one hour before it leaves to make sure you'll make it, lines can be long.
A good first-time place to go to in the Olympic National Park is Hurricane Ridge, which is at the end of the Hurricane Ridge Road, continuing up from the park entrance off of Highway 101. There is a visitor center at top which has restrooms and some food as well as a picnic area. The views from the top are beautiful and you can see all the major peaks of the park and their glaciers. There are a few short and easy trails around there from where you can see back to the Puget Sound and Port Angeles, and on a clear day onto Victoria, BC and the San Juan Islands. If you'd like to car-camp in the area, the Heart O The Hills campground is close by, just after crosing the park entrance. For $10 a night it offers a multitude of spots, and bathrooms with running water (no showers). Remember to take good insect repellant though since mosquitos may abound.
If you want to see a bit of everything, it's possible to drive around the whole peninsula on route 101 in one whole day. If you start on the south side you can visit the Quinault Rain Forest and see the huge moss-covered spruces, cedars and hemlocks. Continuing west on 101 you get to the ocean coast; here you can see the rugged beaches full of huge logs that have been carried out to the sea and brought back over and over again, and numerous rock formations and cool sea stacks. You can then continue the drive to the north side, where you can get beautiful views of the San Juan de Fuca straight and Canada, Crecent Lake and Hurricane Ridge.
The Olympic National Forest surrounds the national park and has additional camping locations and trails.
If you need to rent gear for the Olympics, REI offers backpacking gear and Olympic Camping Rentals offers complete tent camping packages with larger, more comfortable gear.
The Cascades Edit
The Cascades offer a large variety of hiking, backpacking, and climbing opportunities. There's also good places for a quick day hike that are not far from Seattle. An example are the trails near Snoqualmie pass, about 45 minutes away from Seattle driving East on I-90. The Denny Creek trail (difficult) and the Franklin Falls trail (easy) both start at Denny Creek campground, a short drive from exit 47 on I-90, and have views of beautiful waterfalls. Well worth it for a nice day hike. Note: because of a current road closure on Denny Creek road, access is from exits 52 or 53 on I-90. See external links for updated information.
Mount Rainier Edit
Mount Rainer National Park is about two or two and a half hours from Seattle. Lots of hiking, camping, glacier and rock climbing and cross country skiing opportunities.
- The Mountaineers: "Seattle's premiere outdoor recreation organization"
- thebackpacker.com Washington state trails
- Compassmonkey.com | Washington Hiking Trails
- NwHikers: Northwest Hiking Forums
- WTA: Washington Trails Association