Ideas for enjoying the real life of Seattle (that often cost little or nothing).

Friday, January 12, 2007

When in Rome…or Seattle: Mt. Si

This is the first in an intermittent series on places and activities favored by Seattle locals when they want to “sightsee” their own backyard. In every city there are activities and landmarks promoted to tourists that locals avoid, because of the crowds, the cost, the “cheesy” factor, and/or having done it every time family visits from out of town. In Seattle, these include the Space Needle, the Underground Tour of Pioneer Square, and riding “The Duck,” among others. Ever wonder how a New Yorker sightsees in Manhattan or a Parisian in Paris? Here is a look at what Seattlites do when they want play tourist.

When Seattlites want to “get outside,” test their meddle, and take in some awe-inspiring scenery without hauling out the backpack, they head to Mt. Si. Located in the beginning of the Cascade foothills, about ½ hour east of Seattle in North Bend, this day hike is a pilgrimage for many locals; some annually, some weekly, some daily. Many hike it in the late spring to test their readiness for other mountain excursions. It offers lovely, forest scenery and stunning views of the Cascades and the city from the top.

An eight mile hike, round trip, you climb 3700 feet to a craggy outcropping with views to the west (Seattle) and south (Mt. Rainier). If you investigate a bit, you will also find some views to the north (Mt Baker).

Left: The view South

While on the trail, you may need to step aside for one of the Mt Si runners. These are folks training for big races and use Mt. Si as their Stairmaster. If you see water bottles tucked next to the trail, leave them. They are left by the runners while heading up to grab and use while coming down.

Left: A close up of Mt. Rainier

You will also likely run into many big, friendly dogs. Dogs are welcome on Mt. Si and, although officially they are supposed to be on leash, most are so friendly and well behaved that their owners let them loose to blaze the trail.


Go when it’s been dry for a few days (yes, that happens). Mt. Si is a steep hike in places, and can be treacherous when muddy.

Above: Looking west toward Seattle

Wear sturdy boots. Although the trail is very well maintained, it is an eight-mile hike with a healthy incline. Also, the last stretch to the top is a rock scramble.

Go early in the morning and/or on a weekday. This is a VERY popular hike. If you start after 8am on a sunny weekend day, you could find yourself in a glory train of fellow hikers. Also, if it is going to be warm, you don’t want to be hiking up in the heat of the day.

Don’t forget food and water! Make sure to bring a knapsack with the basics, including lots of water, a hearty sandwich, and something to snack on, on the way up.

Bring your camera. The views really are breathtaking, and fellow hikers will be happy to take a “victory shot” of you at the top.


From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to Exit 32. Turn left on 468th Avenue and drive to North Bend Way. Turn left and drive to Mount Si Road. Turn right and drive 4 miles to the trailhead on the left.


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