How is everyone doing? After a long winter, I’m feeling a bit—well—stale. As usual, the wet and frigid weather made it harder to get outside and exercise, and easier to sit inside under piles of blankets and binge Netflix. With more rain on this week’s forecast, it seems we’ve reached that inevitable point in Pacific Northwest winters where energy levels sag and irritability levels rise.
If you’ve been feeling a bit down, restless, or stressed lately, it might be time to get outside. More and more studies reveal how crucial exercise is for mental health; recently, Yale and Oxford researchers discovered that exercise makes people happier than money. Plus, a recent study from the University of Michigan reports that a 20-minute walk in nature can significantly lower your stress levels.
Luckily, rain has never stopped Washingtonians from getting outside and enjoying themselves—all it takes are some waterproof athletic shoes and a good rain jacket. So, to help us all get moving and enjoy the Northwest’s natural beauty, here are some of the best hikes within an hour or less of the Seattle area.
If you’re looking for a quick mid-week or weekend escape, you can find this urban oasis in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. The park offers hikes between 1 and 5 miles. According to Curbed Seattle, visitors love the 2.8-mile Loop Trail, “which takes you through the woods and meadows to the park’s literal and figurative highpoint: a bluff overlooking Puget Sound that offers a great view of the downtown skyline.”
Located in Issaquah, Tiger Mountain’s 7.2-mile trail will give you gorgeous views of Lake Washington and the foothills. For a longer but less steep option in this area, check out High School Trail.
3. Weowna Park
Another quick jaunt, this 3.5-mile trail in Bellevue highlights one of the best parts about living in Washington State—the trail leads you through an old-growth forest, right in the middle of the city. Gentle and well-maintained, keep an eye out for conifers and peeks at Lake Sammamish.
This trail snakes through Bothell and offers over 3 miles of trails and 42 acres of wildlife habitat. The forest is also home to many different birds; while hiking, keep an eye out for woodpeckers and great horned owls.
Because this trail mostly follows old logging roads, Cherry Creek Falls is a gentle, smooth 5.5-mile hike. Seattle hikers rave about this gorgeous walk past waterfalls and along a creek. Hikers say that while the trail does get muddy, this spot is a wonderful hike year-round.
6. Alki Trail
Alki is a paved urban trail along Elliott Bay, perfect for early morning or evening walks and runs. The trail offers views of the Puget Sound, the original, now-burned Luna Park dock just off Duwamish head, and the Seattle Statue of Liberty plaza.
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