The Great Outdoors: Northwest Trails

Snow Lake. Photo: Flickr/brewbooks

Our local expert recommends some challenging (and rewarding) hiking spots.

Summertime is a great time to improve your health and get in shape. In Seattle, it also means that, occasionally, the rain quits long enough for us to step outside and enjoy the natural world. So, for the first installment of this four-part column, we will look at some hiking trails around the Northwest that should get your feet moving.

Sunrise Lake. Photo: Timothy Lusk

Sunrise Lake — Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

This short hike is ideal for kids and parents alike. It isn’t too rigorous, and ends up at a beautiful lake with a gorgeous view of the hills around it. Trail crews have worked on the trail, so the terrain is smooth enough for little legs to navigate with ease. Bring a picnic lunch and some swim trunks and make an afternoon of it. The return hike should be just enough to tire the kids out for the ride home.

Roundtrip: 1.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 425 ft.

Highest Point: 6,150 ft.

Additional Info: No dogs allowed; permit or pass required at trailhead.

Driving Directions: From Enumclaw, drive east 43 miles on State Route 410 to the Mount Rainier National Park White River Entrance. Veer right onto the Sunrise Road and follow it 12 miles west to the parking lot inside the hairpin turn at Sunrise Point. Note: Sunrise Road usually doesn’t open until early July. 0.5 miles into the hike, follow the left fork. View a map here.


Snow Lake — Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Snow Lake is Washington’s most heavily used trail within a designated wilderness area, which means it will be very crowded on the weekends. However, it should be fairly deserted if you visit during the middle of the week. With breathtaking views and the relative ease of the hike, it’s no wonder this trail is so popular!

Roundtrip: 8 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft.

Highest Point: 4,400 ft.

Additional Info: Dogs allowed on leash; pass or permit required at trailhead.

Driving Directions: From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 52 (signed for Snoqualmie Pass west). Turn left (north), crossing under the freeway, and continue to the end of the road at the Alpental Ski Area parking lot. View a map here.

Paddy-Go-Easy Pass. Photo: Altasnob

Paddy-Go-Easy Pass — Cle Elum, WA

Don’t let the name fool you, this hike is far from easy — but don’t let that turn you off to this trail; getting a good workout is the point of hiking, anyway. While it is fairly strenuous, PGE is a beautiful hike with great views and gorgeous Sprite Lake at the top. This hike will probably take you all day, so plan for that. Near the top, the trail forks, but both trails will take you to the summit. If you go during the right time of year, the trail up by the lake is surrounded with wild blueberries that you can pick and eat.

Roundtrip: 7 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,700 ft.

Highest Point: 6,100 ft.

Additional Info: Dogs allowed; permit or pass required at trailhead.

Driving Directions: From Seattle drive east on I-90 to take exit 80 (signed “Roslyn/Salmon la Sac”). Head north on Salmon la Sac Road (State Route 903) about 15 miles, passing through Roslyn and past Cle Elum Lake to Salmon la Sac. Go right and continue on Cle Elum Valley Road (FS 4330) approximately 10 miles through beautiful meadows to the trailhead on the right. View a map here.


NOTE: These trails are unsupervised; HIKE AT YOUR OWN RISK! Be sure to wear proper clothing and footwear, pack plenty of water and sunscreen, and never hike alone. Contact local ranger stations for further information.