Visited by upwards of 100,000 people each year, Mount Si is the most popular hiking destination in Washington. People love this trail for its sweeping views of the Puget Sound Basin and Snoqualmie Valley, and for its convenient location only 30 miles from Seattle. The snow clears early on the well-marked and maintained Mount Si trails, making it accessible earlier than other trials. But the crowds do not mean that the hike is an easy one: be prepared for an 8-mile haul with 3150 ft. of elevation gain. Trekking poles aren't a bad idea, and make sure to bring snacks, lots of water, and well-fitted hiking boots.
What Makes It Great
It is a wonderfully convenient way to get to a place that feels wild – and a good way to get in a burly workout at the same time. There’s even a benefit to the crowds: with so many people on the trail, the hike often takes on a sort of community-minded atmosphere. A perfect way to crack the notorious “Seattle freeze.”
Because it’s a challenging trek, people often use this trail to train for backpacking trips and expeditions. You are also likely to see some rock climbers clambering around on its lower flanks.
But if you're not looking for something so intense, you don't have to go all out at Mt. Si, because there's a good turning around point about a mile in. You can still enjoy a quick 2-mile hike with only 1600 ft. in elevation gain, or do some trail running with your dog. A rocky ridge with a view makes for a nice stopping point, before turning back. If you carry on, you'll pass bubbling creeks and many steep switchbacks.
It's a steady ascent until you reach the summit basin and a wide meadow with ample wildflowers and beautiful views of the Olympics and, on a clear day, the city of Seattle. From there, it's possible to hike on to Haystack rock, the true summit, but it's a pretty gnarly scramble with drop-offs, and creates a falling-rock hazard to hikers below, so please take precaution. Since the views from the meadow are essentially the same, if you feel at all uncomfortable with it, we recommend avoiding this scramble altogether.
Who is Going to Love It
More than just a popular trail, hiking up Mount Si is like a right of passage for many Seattleites. It makes for a delightful introduction to the Cascades, and an ascent to the top authorizes proud bragging rights to novice hikers.
The trail is well loved by more experienced outdoorsman, too. Many locals with their sights set on Mt. Rainier or other big peaks load up heavy packs and run up Mount Si as part of their training program.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Seattle- Take I-90 to exit 32. Turn left onto 436th Ave SE. Turn left when 436th Ave. SE ends at SE North Bend Way. Turn right onto SE Mt. Si Road, and take it 2.4 miles. The trailhead will be on your left.
Mount Si is equipped with an enormous parking lot, but given the hike’s popularity on a nice day it is still almost guaranteed to fill – so you may want to get there early.