Pupper ready to dust off the ol’ Fitbit and hit the trail? We sniffed out some active adventures of varying degrees of difficulty fur you and your pal. Here are some of our fave dog-friendly hikes near Seattle that’ll give both you and your tiny forest nymph a good workout and amazing views.
1. Ira Spring Trail – Mason Lake
Region: Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest
Length: 6.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 2,420 feet gain / 4,320 feet highest point
Wildflowers. Ridges. Meadows. Waterfalls. Lakes. Mountain views. Puppy views. Bathroom at the trailhead (for hoomans, of course—a dog’s bathroom is everywhere). Need we say more about Ira Spring Trail at Mason Lake?! No, but we will. The 6.5-mile trail is named after Ira Spring, a lifelong conservationist and nature photographer, and fittingly is a photographer’s dream. Once you put your pup in front of it…game over. The trail starts gradually, and you can cool off in Mason Creek before the serious climbing begins around 2 miles in. Enjoy the gorgeous views of Mason Lake and Bandera Mountain before heading back down. Or heck, bring gear and stay in one of the designated camping areas overnight!
Note: The road to the trailhead will be closed periodically for a restoration project in summer 2022. The closure, when in place, is between Sunday night and Fridays at noon.
2. Navaho Pass
Region: Snoqualmie Region
Length: 11 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 3,000 feet gain / 6,000 feet highest point
Ok. Deep breath. We know you’re nervous about the number 11. This is definitely not a hike for the timid or the first-timer. While we know your could-chase-balls-for-hours Retriever likely could do this in his sleep, we are—well, human after all. But for those of you PNWers who hike all the time, we highly encourage you to try out Navaho Pass.
The hike is difficult from the start, running sharply upwards alongside the babbling Stafford Creek. A more moderate climb sets in around the third mile, where you and pup can wind through wildflower-strewn meadows and majestic ridges and passes. A good halfway point is a popular camping area where views of Earl Peak against an iron-rich, bright red landscape would make for an incredible #DogsOfInstagram post.
3. Anderson and Watson Lakes
Region: North Cascades Mount Baker Area
Length: 6 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 1,100 feet gain / 4,099 feet highest point
Anderson and Watson Lakes is the perfect “choose-your-own-adventure” trail with multiple options for families, hiking beginners, and pups of all proportions. Just one mile in, you’ll reach a gorgeous, wildflower-laden meadow where you can continue right to Watson Lake or take a detour to the left towards Anderson Lake. The detour is a steep 1.5-mile climb, but the crazy views of Mounts Shuksan and Baker will make it worth it.
4. Mount Erie Loop Trail
Region: Puget Sound and Islands – Whidbey Island
Length: 5 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 1,000 gain / 1,300 highest point
The perfect day trip: take an early morning ferry to Whidbey Island, hike Mount Erie, and still make the last ferry back! You can visit in conjunction with Whistle Lake or Sugarloaf (nearby popular locations), or just stick to Erie on its own. A large part of the winding trail is through open forest, then you’ll climb and climb! When it feels like your legs are dead, you’ll finally reach…the parking lot. Yes, we’re serious—but don’t fret! Those views you’re looking for? Just across the lot!
Luckily, Buddy slept for the 45-min drive to North Bend, so he’s ready to hit the trail. Cedar Butte Trail has the elevation gain to kick that butt into gear. Less than a mile into the hike, bound over Boxley Creek and toward the unmarked fork in the trail. Your lil’ explorer can choose either trail, they both lead to the butte (not butt, furry sniffer—butte). The converted railroad path rises to the summit of Cedar Butte, where buddy can see Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, Great Mountain, Russian Butte, and Mailbox Peak. We know we said no butts, but there is a log seat at the summit with “Cedar Butt” carved into it for those who appreciate a giggle.
If your athletic fluff is drooling for more, not to worry. Cedar Butte shares a parking lot with the Rattlesnake Ledge trailhead where switchbacks lead the ulti-mutt hiker around Rattlesnake Lake. Consider taking a dip before continuing past the lake to the top of Rattlesnake Ledge. Snap pics of the view (your woofers cute face, duh) and the scenery, and be sure to keep your trail pawtner close because the ledge does have a steep drop-off. This trail also gets a lot of foot traffic, so make sure you and pup follow good dog hiking etiquette.
7. Coal Creek Trail
Region: Issaquah Alps – Cougar Mountain
Length: 6 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 550 gain / 600 highest point
Just a 20-minute drive east of Seattle awaits Coal Creek Trail, an easy hike rich with history. Leash up and let your history ruff lead you into the past. To your right see what’s left of 1800’s mining activity, and to your left a coal shoot that descends 500 feet below sea level (a pawfect time to test the “awoo” echo). In the summer, fresh blackberry bushes line the trail, which are obviously a grrreat hike motivator. The pupfessor plans to end his tour at Sandstone Falls with a lecture on the importance of post-hike treatos—don’t be late. For those lookin’ for more knowledge and less hikin’, there is a 0.1-mile interpretive trail.
What are your fave dog-friendly hikes near Seattle? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to tag @SidewalkDog in all your hiking snaps!