Hikes sorted base on location, with a few additional categories in case you’re looking for cloudy day hikes or specific activities. Some better than others, no promises!
Snoqualmie Pass (I-90): Usually closest to Seattle, some as close as 45 minutes away. Which means they aren’t as remote and you often have to listen to the highway, but good if you’re crunched for time and still pretty scenic if you turn your back to the road. As for the big snow capped peaks, usually Rainier is the only one in view, but if you get high enough with clear skies, it can be a four-volcano day.
The Teanaways: Just east of Snoqualmie Pass, this is the secret sunny side of the Cascades. 70% chance of rain? Snow level downto 2500ft? No worries, drive through it and pop out into sunny heaven on the other side. Great views of the Stuart range.
Stevens Pass (Rt. 2): Slightly farther north than i90, with hikes anywhere from an hour away to three hours away. More remote, with potential views of Glacier Peak and a few other smaller summits. Home to the vastly underrated Wild Sky Wilderness.
Enchantments/Leavenworth Area: An endless playground of rock climbing and skiing. Tends to be accessible before the west side of the Cascades, so I spent a lot of spring here. Stuart is the king.
Mountain Loop Highway: Similar to Rt 2, these are slightly more remote, but still usually within an hour or two of Seattle. Views of Glacier, Sloan, the Monte Cristos, Baker, Shuksan, and many, many others.
North Cascades Highway: Winds just south of Mt. Baker and Shuksan, with hikes 2 to 4 hours away. Aptly named, it leads to North Cascades National Park. Apparently it was quite the fiasco putting a road through a national park. There are too many highlights here to name. Just go hike something and let your break be taken away.
North Cascades National Park: Not everything in the park is off the North Cascades Highway, and not everything on the highway is in the park, so it gets its own category. It’s like the mini Swiss Alps. Don’t tell anyone in the lower 48 that it exists. Entrance is free and the secrets are well kept. You need to work for your rewards here.
Mt. Baker Highway: Very far north, hikes from 2 hours away to 4 hours away. Remote, amazing views of Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, and even the Canadian Rockies on a good day. A commitment, but some of the most beautiful hikes in the state.
Olympics: Anywhere from 1:30 (southeast corner) to 5 hours (coast) away. If you’re in Seattle, check out the ferries, or get a tent! The western side is rainforest, east side isn’t as lush but still gorgeous. Many hikes are doable year round, but the peaks towards the center are very difficult to access in winter.
Cloudy Day Hikes: Pretty self explanatory. Cloudy or raining and want a hike that doesn’t depend on views? Check it out.
Eastern Washington: Also self explanatory. One time I ventured past Leavenworth/Cle Elum. I assume it will happen again.
Trail Runs: Coming from Illinois/Boston, I assumed all trail were runnable. Turns out, as a newbie to real mountains, some are more difficult than others. These are the more straightforward ones, where I didn’t end up having to hike most of the trail.
Backcountry Skiing: Honestly, right now (spring 2016) if I can ski it you can probably do it in boots or on snowshoes. I’m less than stellar. But these trips are definitely faster and more enjoyable on skis, so check ’em out! Some involve glaciers, some are just plain old snowy fun, some I can skin up and can’t ski down. You’ll have better luck.
Rock Climbing: Yeah, if you told me two years ago I’d like rock climbing I’d have laughed at you. But it turns out I kind of like rock climbing, and a lot of the alpine involves rock climbing. Everything from 5.fun to 5.i’mdestroyed (currently ~5.9).
Mountaineering: If we roped up for any reason, it’ll be in here. didn’t even know this was a thing that people did until I moved here and got towed up Rainier in August 2014. Since then, I’ve been working to break into the world of climbing, and I’m making progress, one step at a time. If you’re looking to get into the world’s most uncomfortable sport, have your ass constantly handed to you on a frozen icy platter, crap in blue bags, and see the most beautiful places you didn’t even know existed, come take a look. Let me grace you with a limerick I wrote on the way to Orizaba in Mexico.
And shitting in bags is the best!