From climbing an active volcano to kayaking Lake Washington, some outdoor adventures are quintessential to Seattle. Tucked between the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, the Emerald City offers an incredible array of opportunities for recreation enthusiasts – some advanced and some accessible to all skill levels.
Below are a few of our favorite adventures curated by the team at The Woodmark:
Forested and flecked with mossy boulders, the 4-mile out-and-back trail on Rattlesnake Ridge highlights the lush scenery for which the Pacific Northwest is renowned. Near the top of the mountain, the exposed rock face of Rattlesnake Ledge offers stunning vistas of the Cedar Ridge Watershed, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake, and Chester Morse Lake and provides as the perfect place for a picnic. But should you wish to continue another half-mile up the trail, Upper Ledge is generally less crowded and offers equally incredible views.
Set between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, Seattle is a world-class destination for watersports like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Discover tranquil preserves ideal for wildlife viewing, such as Yarrow Bay Wetlands, a 73-acre preserve accessible only by non-motorized watercraft and home to the great blue heron, as well as ospreys, bald eagles, turtles, and beavers. Juanita Bay Wetlands (5 miles north of The Woodmark) and Mercer Slough (7 miles south) are also wonderful destinations for experienced paddlers.
At The Woodmark’s recreation booth, Waterfront Adventures, our iconic yellow and blue kayaks are complimentary for hotel guests for up to four hours. You can also rent kayaks for extended periods, along with paddleboards, jet skis, and boats.
Some of the most incredible rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest can be found at Little Si, a popular hiking destination on the edge of the Cascade Mountains – commonly referred to by climbers as Exit 32. With the highest concentration of 5.13s and 5.14s in the state, the area’s volcanic rock attracts both experienced climbers and those wishing to further hone their skills. The long, overhanging routes can be found 30 minutes from the Little Si Trailhead in two major climbing areas: World Wall I and World Wall II.
Between the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Mountains, the opportunities for skiing and snowboarding near Seattle are virtually endless. There are six ski resorts within three hours of Seattle, as well as two small ski hills with rope tows. The Summit at Snoqualmie, about 50 miles from the city, offers nearly 2,000 acres of skiable terrain including two terrain parks – one with a superpipe. Seattleites also enjoy Stevens Pass to the northeast, Mt. Baker near the Canadian border, and Crystal Mountain within Mount Rainier National Park.
Photo: The Summit at Snoqualmie
Spanning 120 acres of rolling, wooded terrain, Duthie Hill is a wonderful, year-round mountain biking destination for beginners and experts alike. It was built entirely by volunteers over the course of more than 20,000 hours and features both cross-country trails and technical routes with tables, step-ups, drops, log rides, ladders, and gaps. A practice area allows you to perfect your moves before hitting some of the tougher routes, and the Flowpark offers more features than any other public riding area in the state.
Photo: Hannah Wahl Photography
In the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Cascade Mountains, the Enchantments welcome you into one of the most stunning, mountainous landscapes in the world. Discover high peaks flecked with greenery, glistening crystal blue lakes, and granite bowls carved by glaciers. Your journey to the Upper Enchantments will require at least a 7-mile hike with a 4,400-foot elevation gain, however there are longer, more scenic routes that you should take if you are traveling at your leisure.
Permits to hike and camp in the Enchantments can be difficult to obtain, with a lottery held each February and a small number of permits handed out at the Leavenworth Ranger Station for day-of access.
Photo: Jeffrey Pang
More than 120 miles of world-class skiing trails and mountain scenery await in Methow Valley, home to the largest network of cross-country trails in the country. The trail system is divided into four areas all connected by the Methow Community Trail, which features a suspension bridge crossing the Methow River. Enjoy peaceful, freshly groomed conditions in the setting of your choice, from flat farmland to aspen and pine woodlands to rolling mountains.
Towering over Seattle’s skyline at 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier offers a sensational mountaineering experience for even the experienced climber. The active volcano, which is also the highest mountain in Washington and the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, challenges climbers with a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet.
Novices can reach the summit with a guide and return in as little as three days, but they need to be in good physical condition and be properly prepared. (Alpine Ascents International, International Mountain Guides, and RMI Expeditions offer guided trips, which the front desk team at The Woodmark can arrange for you.) Those climbing without a guide will require a party permit and should make reservations for camping areas in advance when possible.
Once you arrive at the summit, spectacular views of the surrounding mountain range and Seattle await.
Prior to your stay or upon arrival at The Woodmark, contact our front desk team for additional information or for assistance reserving an excursion. You can reach us at 425.822.3700.
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