4 Easy Hikes Near Seattle for a Rainy Day

When Seattle’s rainy season kicks into gear, it’s tempting to hang up your hiking boots and hibernate. But there’s a lot to love about being outdoors in drizzly weather. Drenched ferns and mosses glow with a kryptonite-green hue, rivers and waterfalls puff up with spectacular power, and the air feels fresh, cool, and invigorating.

view of Rattlesnake Ledge and mountains from the shore of Rattlesnake Lake
Rattlesnake Ledge and a snowcapped Mount Si and Mount Teneriffe from the shore of Rattlesnake Lake. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

There’s a therapeutic benefit, too. According to Dr. Stephen Ilardi, professor of clinical psychology and author of the book The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs, exposure to light boosts our mood and resets our body clock, which aids sleep, even on cloudy days. The catch? When it’s cloudy out, the light intensity is lower than on sunny days. In order to reap the benefits, we must spend 2-3 hours outside on a cloudy day versus 10-30 minutes when it’s sunny.

So what are some good strategies for hiking in the rain? Check weather, road, and trail conditions and be prepared for unexpected showers, ice, snow, downed trees, and washouts. Invest in a waterproof jacket, pants, shoes, and gloves to help stay warm and dry. Gaitors will keep rain out of your shoes and give your legs an extra layer of warmth. Underneath your rain gear, fabrics like merino wool will draw moisture away from your body and help protect against hypothermia. Traction devices, such as microspikes, are also handy on icy trails. Before hitting the trail, line the inside of your backpack with a garbage bag to keep valuables dry.

Remember, it doesn’t rain 24/7! With the right gear and a positive mindset, you can get outside in the rainy season, and give yourself a nature bath while you’re at it.

Here are four easy hikes (and a bonus wintry option) for less-than-ideal weather.

1. Bridle Trails State Park, Kirkland

3.5 mile loop, 450 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, Discover Pass required, map

Bridle Trails State Park is a great option for squeezing in solid trail time in an oasis of greenery. The wide, established, and gently rolling trail system winds through the 482-acre park, showcasing verdant undergrowth, sprawling tree canopies, interpretive signs, and wildlife.

path through trees in Kirkland Washington's Bridle Trails
Bridle Trails in Kirkland. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

2. Licorice Fern Trail, Cougar Mountain

3.8 miles round-trip, 200 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

The Licorice Fern Trail showcases a pleasant, fertile forest. The undulating trail descends through trees dripping with feathery moss before crossing over Far Country Creek on a wooden bridge to continue northwest on the Indian Trail to Far Country Falls.

ferns clinging to a tree trunk on Cougar Mountain Washington
Licorice Fern Trail is named for the ferns that grow on tree trunks and branches. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

3. Rattlesnake Lake Trail—Cedar River Watershed Education Center, North Bend

1.5 miles round-trip, 30 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

Rattlesnake Lake provides a beautiful green getaway with mostly paved, ADA-accessible paths and lakeside views of the Cascade foothills. Make a loop around the Cedar River Watershed Education Center and visit the rain drum garden for a delightful drum symphony.

View of Rattlesnake Lake taken at the top of Rattlesnake Ledge trail, Washington, USA. © Maksym Ukrainets, Dreamstime.

4. Twin Falls, North Bend

2.6 miles round-trip, 500 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, Discover Pass required, map

Twin Falls is especially beautiful when water levels rise in winter and spring. Views of the South Fork Snoqualmie River greet the trail, which leads to a powerful view of a 135-foot waterfall from the lower falls viewpoint. Visit the 80-foot wooden bridge spanning the gorge for a misty view of the upper falls.

Snoqualmie River rapids surrounded by dense forest in North Bend Washington
View of South Fork Snoqualmie River at the start of the Twin Falls Trail in North Bend. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

BONUS: Bullion Basin Snowshoe, Crystal Mountain Resort

4.5 miles roundtrip, 1500 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

When it’s raining in Seattle in the wintertime, it’s snowing in the mountains! Head to Bullion Basin for a quiet, tree-lined snowshoe without the bustle of ski resort crowds. When you’re finished, take a scenic, wintry gondola ride (no dogs allowed in winter) and sip a cup of hot cocoa at the Summit House.

snow covered trees and mountains in Washington
View of the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort from the Bullion Basin Snowshoe trail. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Melissa Ozbek

About the Author

Originally from North Salem, New York, Melissa Ozbek fell in love with hiking in Washington State when she hiked to the summit of Mount St. Helens for the first time. Since then she has hiked hundreds of miles throughout the state, from beachside strolls to alpine lakes to spectacular mountain summits.

In 2015, she became a hiking guide correspondent and contributor to the Washington Trails Association, writing and researching trail descriptions on wta.org. In addition to writing, Melissa loves photographing trailscapes and is always looking to capture a hike’s distinctive personality. In her free time she enjoys finding NPR podcasts and audiobooks to listen to on her drives to hikes, cooking and baking, paddle boarding, playing piano, and going for walks along Lake Washington with her husband, Onur. Check out her work at melissaozbek.com.

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