Paths to unknown adventures await you just minutes from the Seattle suburbs. Get away from the busy city and discover hundreds of miles of trails starting on or near the Mountains to Sound Greenway. The trails range in length and difficulty, so whether you're looking for a quick trip or a secluded journey into the backcountry, you'll find dramatic forests and alpine scenery to refresh your mind, body, and soul.
The backbone trail in this recreation network is the John Wayne Pioneer Trail just south of North Bend (38 miles from Seattle). This converted rail/trail crosses the mountains on a wide and gentle slope and includes a 2.3-mile tunnel under the Snoqualmie Summit. This trail is especially popular with bicyclists and equestrians. At the Snoqualmie Summit is access to the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. Take the trail northward to enter the marvelous Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and spectacular high alpine country. Pause in your journey and eat lunch by one of hundreds of small lakes, or just sit quietly surrounded by the profuse displays of wildflowers. There's a feeling of complete seclusion in this fantastic landscape, only an hour from Seattle.
Get back to nature and wildlife in many of the hiking areas near the byway. The Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is the largest wild park in an urban area in America (3115 acres). Wind through wetlands and forests, and pass 19th century coal mining shafts and concrete foundations on one of the park's many trails. Another park, the Squak Mountain State Park, offers excellent hiking because its 1,500 wooded acres are a first-rate wildlife habitat. The Tiger Mountain State Forest has the state's most heavily used trails, which wind through 13,000 acres of working forest and conservation area. The two access points are just 20 and 40 minutes from Seattle.
At 4,167 feet, Mt. Si towers over the town of North Bend and is a favorite hiking destination with its strenuous and exhilarating eight-mile round-trip trail to the summit or its five-mile round-trip trail to Little Si. Across the valley from Mt Si, the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail climbs easily for 2-miles (1,175 feet in 1 mile) from Rattlesnake Lake through classic western Washington forests to rock outcrops where you will find sweeping views of the Central Cascades and Snoqualmie Valley.
If you are a backcountry hiker searching for peace and solitude, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley, on the edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, has a variety of trails that wind through more than 100,000 acres of both ancient and recently harvested forests. The valley is minutes from North Bend, but is lightly visited. Cross the unpaved, 12-mile road and footbridge to find access to miles of backcountry trails. Backcountry hikers will fall in love with the Washington Outback. Overnight camping is available in a Forest Service campground at the end of the road.
Fantastic adventures are at your fingertips on the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Countless paths lead to little known destinations high above the fast-paced life and stress of the cities and towns along the byway.
- Copyright © 2008 Christopher Lewis.
- Copyright © 2010 Sean Munson.