Part 1 of our Summer Series :
Seattle area hikes – curated by Rachael Lang

Getting outside calms my mind and helps me get a bit more centered. I started hiking in the PNW fifteen years ago with a pair of hiking boots that I found in a free box, and have continued my outdoor adventures on the trails ever since.

These days, I like to get out during the weekdays to avoid the crowds and allow more space on the trails. Thankfully, people have been respectful about social distancing and wearing masks when passing on these hikes, but if you can get up at the crack of dawn on the weekend and get on the road, you’ll be rewarded with a much quieter & peaceful experience!

I’ve added a selection of my favorite hikes I’ve done recently that are all under a 2-hour drive from Seattle. I encourage always checking the most recent Trip Reports on Washington Trails Association to get an idea of the current trail and road conditions. WTA is an amazing resource for all things hiking, plus, they do some amazing work promoting the outdoors. If you are new to hiking, check out their 10 essentials article to get an idea of what you’ll need to practice safety in the outdoors.

Easy: Skookum Flats
A relaxing forest bath; this one takes you on a winding trail through shady, old growth forest. The path is soft and offers little peeks of the White River. This is a great starter hike for all abilities with very little elevation gain.

Moderate: Melakwa Lake
I did this one recently and really enjoyed it. This 8.5 mile hike increases in elevation gradually, with two sparkling blue lakes to relax by. The water is an unreal color. It was too cold for me to get in but over the next month, it might warm up enough for one to enjoy a little dip.

Moderate: Summerland
This hike has it all: old growth forest, sub-alpine meadows, a granite otherworldly landscape with a rushing glacier creek, and views of Little Tahoma and to the summit dome of Mount Rainier. I do this hike every year; it’s just such a stunner. The weather can be a little unpredictable in this area so just make sure to check the trail report to avoid snow on the trails.

Hard: Gothic Basin
This hike seems longer than 12.5 miles. Maybe it’s because the scramble up the last rock field to the deep blue lake at the top is a bit of a burner. Once you are up there, enjoy this epic rocky playground with sweeping views. This is a great late-season hike especially after you’ve gotten a few moderate hikes in.

Rachael Lang is a Seattle-based photographer and videographer. She also works at the Frye Art Museum as the Manager/Buyer of the Museum Store. She has always loved the outdoors and spends much of her summer hiking, biking, swimming, wandering, and laying by Lake Washington.