Hikes Available Year-Round

With the right gear, determination, and knowledge, almost any hike can be done year-round. But snow can be dangerous and tough, so I like to always have some ideas for snow-free trails year-round.

Do your research

While I’m going to link to quite a few trails in the area, this is only a smattering of what’s out there. Arming yourself with books, especially ones on urban hiking like Urban Hikes Washington and Urban Trails Seattle, can give you even more ideas of what’s available. But, if you’re wanting something less urban, research can still be your friend. Hiking groups on Facebook and Reddit can be filled with “Is XYZ trail snow-free?” posts, so keeping an eye on trip reports can help, but I have a trick that works well for those hikes just high enough to be doable at times. Northwest Avalanche Center, as well as forecasting mountain weather and avalanche danger, also posts predicted snow level on their website. This means the height that one could possibly find snow. They do this by general area, not trail, but if the snow level of, say, the West North region was 2,500 feet, and I have in mind a trail that starts at 1,400 feet elevation and gains 1,000 feet, I’d chance it and bring my spikes along, as long as there was no avalanche danger. This isn’t exact, and might require you to make a judgement call, but it can certainly help narrow down the field a bit.

When the mountains aren’t calling…stay in the city

Extra layers are always helpful if hiking off-season!

Obviously, if there’s a foot of snow outside your house, there’ll likely be similar snow all around you. But typically, city hikes are going to be flatter and have less risk than the mountains even if there is a dusting of snow–and in Seattle, there’s typically only going to be snow on the ground 5-10 days a year. I’ve been doing a lot of hikes recently in the Issaquah Alps region, some of which can be good for some early-season conditioning. Other areas close to Seattle-Everett but a bit more wild, while still reliably snow-free, include the Anacortes Community Forest Lands, Index trails, Vashon Island’s trail networks at Dockton Forest and Shinglemill Preserve, and even lower hikes along I-90.

I try to tag good hikes in the greater urban Seattle area with ‘Urban Hiking‘ for more ideas, and I also have small posts on good urban trail + brewery combos in both Seattle/North King County and Snohomish County.

An (untropical) island getaway

A lake in the middle of an island in the middle of a sound in the middle of…and so on.

While a beach or island getaway in the PNW might not quite slap the same as going to Hawaii in the dead of winter, the coast and San Juans typically don’t get much snow, either, so are great for visiting year-round. Orcas Island has the best hiking of the San Juans, but even closer are some hikes on Whidbey Island as well. There’s far fewer crowds to contend with on a gloomy day, but the trails are the same excitement and opportunity for wildlife.

Not quite the islands, but close, include stunners like Oyster Dome and others in the Chuckanut area of Bellingham, and Padilla Bay‘s paved trail.

Next time you find yourself itching to hit the trails, just pull out this post, and you’ll have tons of ideas to hold you over until the mountains are snow-free for us all. What are some of your favorite trails available year-round? 

2 Replies to “Hikes Available Year-Round”

  1. Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop!

    You’re never more than a few feet from beer at all times.

    1. That is very true, even with Odin Brewing moving away 🙁

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