5 Outdoor Activities to Try Near Seattle

Daniel DawsonJuly 30, 2019

Few major United States metropoles match the ideal location and stunning scenery of Seattle.

The largest city in Washington state, as well as the Pacific Northwest, is situated in between the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula and snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Range. It is the perfect starting point for all types of adventures, all year long.

From hiking within the city limits at Discovery Park, where bears and cougars have been sighted, to climbing Mt Rainier (4,392 meters), the highest peak in the state, plenty of outdoor adventures are easily accessed from the Emerald City.

Whether you are visiting Seattle for a well-deserved holiday or spending a few days in the city on business, there is no excuse to not get out and explore a little. The mighty peaks of the Cascade Range are only a couple of hours to the east and Olympic National Park awaits on the opposite end of the Puget Sound.

Since you could spend a lifetime living in Seattle and still not experience all of the incredible adventures awaiting, we’ve taken the liberty of listing five great outdoor activities to try out on your next visit.



Regardless of whether you are a long-time outdoor enthusiast or just looking to try something new, the perfect activity awaits!


1. Learn mountaineering skills


With some of the best mountain climbing opportunities in the country located just a few hours away, it is no wonder Washington has become a popular destination for novice and first-time mountaineers.

Boasting diverse terrains, gorgeous approaches, and incredible views, the Cascade Range has nearly endless climbing and learning opportunities. In fact, many high-altitude climbers, including people headed to Denali, the Andes and Himalayas, come to Washington state to train.


From the approach to the summit, Washington is a great place to learn all the necessary mountaineering skills. Photo courtesy of Mick Pearson.

Numerous glaciated peaks offer plenty of chances to learn about glacier travel, ice climbing, and various rescue techniques. While loose scree slopes and high rocky ridges present great opportunities for learning various rope travel and rock climbing techniques.

Among the most popular peaks for novice mountaineers to climb is Ruth Mountain, which takes two days and provides lots of learning examples along the way. However, there are numerous options all over the Cascades. Consulting with a mountain guide is the best way to find the perfect one for you.

In brief:

  • How to get there: This depends on the destination, but generally heading east on I-90 or north on I-5.
  • Difficulty level: Easy to advanced}
  • Best time to visit: July to September, but many guides offer year-round climbing options too.

Don’t wait any longer! Head to Seattle and improve your mountaineering skills ASAP!

2. Go backpacking in Olympic National Park


For those who want to get out of the city for a while and escape into the heart of nature, then a multi-day backpacking trip usually fits the bill quite well. And there is no better place to get out and hike than in Olympic National Park, just two hours west of Seattle.

Boasting old-growth forests, incredible mountain views, waterfalls, and a stunning coastline, Olympic National Park has it all. Spending four days in this exquisite place is a great way to hike through some of the various different terrains and see the incredible scenery.


Beaches, forests, and mountains all await hikers and backpackers in Olympic National Park.

Most multi-day treks will also include hiking up at least one or two easy peaks. Among the most popular is Bogachiel Peak, which provides excellent vistas out over Mount Olympus. The Hoh rainforest is another popular destination within the park as are the Olympic Hot Springs.

Adventurers with only a single day to spend exploring the park are also in for a treat. While not many mountain peaks are available to climb in such a short time, various coastal walks provide plenty of unique and incredible scenery. There is no shortage of wonderment anywhere in the park.

Whether it is for just a single day or an entire week, there is plenty to see on foot in the national park. No matter how much time you have, you won’t regret heading here for a hiking adventure.

In brief:

  • How to get there: By car, head south on I-5 before turning off and merging onto US-101 North. This will take you to the park entrance. Many guides will opt to meet in Seattle before heading to the start of the trip.
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Best time to visit: June to October

Don’t hesitate! Book your next hiking trip to Olympic National Park right now!

3. Get an introduction to rock climbing


The Cascade Range has long been a veritable paradise for rock climbers of every level. This is especially true for those who want to try out the sport for the first time.

With plenty of different climbing options from single-pitch sport to multi-pitch trad as well as alpine climbing, there is no shortage of excellent routes to check out.


Plentiful rock climbing opportunities about within two hours driving distance of Seattle. Photo courtesy of Mountain Madness.

There is nothing better than learning the basics of this incredible sport with unbeatable views in every direction. Many introductory climbs will require a short hiking approach through incredible scenery. This just whets your appetite for what’s to come.

After going over how to properly use the gear as well as a few necessary techniques, you are ready to begin climbing on a beginner rock face. There are few better ways to see Washington state than from above and rock climbing is the best way to get you up above the trees.

Numerous spots offer plenty of appropriate routes for first-time climbers as well, so you can spend an entire day making five to six ascents.

By the time you finish, you’ll likely be ready to book a more advanced trip farther up into the Cascades!

In brief:

  • How to get there: By car, head east on I-90 until you reach the predetermined location. Generally, however, guides will opt to meet you in Seattle and provide transport to the start of the trip.
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Best time to visit: May to October

So what are you waiting for? Book your introductory rock climbing adventure today!

4. Try out snowshoeing


Even when the summer ends and after the leaves have fallen off of the trees, there are plentiful outdoor adventures awaiting just outside Seattle.

Among the wintertime favorites here is snowshoeing. By the time December rolls around, plenty of high-quality powder has fallen in the Cascade Range. While this makes hiking difficult, the views are as good as ever and snowshoeing is a great way to get them.


When the snow gets too deep for hiking, snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors and take in Washington’s marvelous winter scenery. Photo credit: Brian Glanz

Whether it is your first time strapping on snowshoes or your hundredth, plenty of great routes await. The best option for all types of snowshoers is heading out into the foothills around Snoqualmie.

These paths provide some great experience for climbing in snowshoes and the views back down as well as over the rest of the Cascades are simply stunning.

More advanced snowshoers may opt to head farther into the mountains where the trails are a bit steeper, but the views are even more impressive. After a single snowshoeing experience here, you’ll be hooked and yearning to come back for more.

In brief:

  • How to get there: By car, you will drive east on I-90 until you reach the predetermined starting point. However, many guides will opt to meet you in Seattle before heading to the start of the trip.
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Best time to visit: December to March

Don’t hesitate! Book your next snowshoeing experience outside of Seattle now!

5. Climb Mount Baker!


Situated in the heart of the northern Cascade Range and rising to 3,286 meters above sea level, Mount Baker is the perfect mountaineering experience for climbers visiting Seattle who only have a few days to spare.

The three-day trip takes you through alpine meadows, evergreen forests and over active glaciers. The views from the top are even better, with incredible vistas out over the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, it is even possible to see the San Juan Islands, to the west, and Mount Rainier, to the south.


Climbing Mount Baker, a great option for a first mountaineering experience. Photo courtesy of Mountain Madness.

The mountain is an incredibly popular location for both beginner and intermediate mountaineers, as a result of all of the terrain and beautiful scenery. In fact, it is widely considered to be one of the best mountains to climb in the entire country!

Ascending the peak by the Easton Glacier is among the most popular routes. This allows inexperienced mountaineers to get plenty of climbing experience, especially on the glacier.

Taking three days allows for plenty of time to make it up to the peak without having to rush back down. It also adds an extra day in case inclement weather prevents a summit attempt on the second day.

In brief:

  • How to get there: By car, head up I-5 until you reach State Route 502. Turn off there and follow the route until you reach the trailhead.
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate
  • Best time to visit: June to September

Don’t wait a second longer! Book your next mountaineering experience to the slopes of Mount Baker today!


Seattle is definitely one of the top outdoor adventure hubs in the United States. The combination of proximity to diverse terrain and incredible views endow the area with nearly unparalleled natural capital.

Check out all the incredible outdoor adventures in the U.S and pick the best activities for your next holiday!


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