5 Challenging (and Spectacular) Day Hikes for You and Your Dog Around Seattle

P1020535KI want to start making “theme” lists of dog-friendly hikes in the Seattle area. I wrote before about unknown dog-friendly trails around Seattle and I plan to make a list of easy hikes later.

We are nearing the end of the hiking season so I wanted to start off my list series by telling you about some trails that are good for our more seasoned hiking fans – those of you who have been regularly hiking with your dog and consider you and your dog to be in pretty good shape. These hikes offer a big challenge but are doable by most dogs that have been hiking a minimum once a week for at least 5 miles and going for regular walks.

Another reason to list these hikes at the end of the season is that they all have a peak elevation of around 5,000 feet, which can leave them covered in snow until middle or late summer.  Not only can these trails be risky when snow-covered, due to the potential of avalanches or ice bridges, they can be impossible for shorter or smaller dogs to navigate.

Please be aware that I have not hiked most of these trails with Chester and Gretel. One I have, one I have hiked myself so I know they would probably be able to make it, and the others my friend has hiked with his dogs. I have only listed hikes that I think or know a 10-lb Dachshund could do.


  1. Mount Si – Mount Si is in the Central Cascade Mountains along Interstate 90. It is the most popular and heavily used trail in Washington State.  It is so popular because it offers a great workout and amazing views of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley, the Puget Sound basin, and far beyond. It is also one of the most spectacular hikes in the area that becomes snow-free early in the year. Many Northwesterners use this hike as training for climbing Mount Rainier…..so you know it is a hard workout. The trail ends at a rocky summit basin which is, if you can find a spot, a great place to have lunch and soak in the views. I’s pretty much mandatory that you do this trail at least once if you are a hiker from the Seattle area (or a visiting hiker). I have hiked Mount Si with Chester and Gretel three times. The trail distance is 8 miles round trip (RT), with an elevation gain of 3,150 feet and a high point of 3,900 feet. A Discover Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.Flkr CC - Rodrigo Hermann
  2. Mailbox Peak – Mailbox Peak is also is in the Central Cascade Mountains along Interstate 90. The description of this hike on Washington Trails Association websites starts out stating “wimpy hikers, turn the page”. This trail is no joke. You will be scrambling up around 1,500 feet per mile. As a reference, most hikers consider anything over 1000 feet per mile to be steep!. You will be rewarded for your hard work with a view of the entire Issaquah Alps. The peak is named for the battered mailbox jammed into the rocks at the the top. Inside is a tattered notebook where you can leave your signature as proof that you made it to the top. The trail distance is 6 miles RT, with an elevation gain of 4,100 feet and a high point of 4,926 feet. A Discover Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.Gothic BasinB
  3. Gothic Basin – Gothic Basin is in the North Cascade Mountains along the Mountain Loop Highway. This rugged and spectacular trail follows an old miners route to a Granite basin. The basin is amazing but don’t stop there. A half-mile past the end of the trail is beautiful Foggy Lake. This trail is rocky…and I don’t mean baseball-size. When S and I hiked this without the dogs to scout it out, I had to scramble up or butt-slide down some of the bigger boulders. Gothic Basin is on our list to do with the dogs but I will be prepared to do a lot of lifting them up and down off of things (because they are small). The trail is less defined at the top so be sure to pay attention so you can retrace your steps. The trail distance is 9 miles RT, with an elevation gain of 2,840 feet and a high point of 5,200 feet. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.Flkr CC MiguelViera Dcikerman
  4. Mount Dickerman – Moutnt Dickerman is another challenging trail in the North Cascades along the Mountain Loop Highway. I haven’t hiked this trail but my friend has and sent me photos. It is reported as having “jaw-slacking views of a ring of rugged peaks near and far” and I will say I was blown away by his pictures. I can’t wait to hike this trail myself. The trail is a big climb but in September you will have plenty of opportunities to rest and pick blueberries until your fingers are purple. Sheer cliffs drop from the north face, so keep dogs, children, and the vertically phobic nearby. The trail distance is 8.6 miles RT, with an elevation gain of 3,875 feet and a high point of 5,723 feet. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.Flickr CC hojaleaf Hidden Lookout
  5. Hidden Lake Lookout – Hidden Lake is in the North Cascades but you take the North Cascades Highway to get there. It is touted as “one of the finest hikes on the face of the planet” and is described as having “mouth-gaping views of a serrated skyline of snow, ice, and rock”. Dogs are not allowed inside the North Cascades National park but my friend said dogs are allowed to the lookout (not inside it though) because it is right on the National Park boundary. I hear you need to bring bug spray for the reported biting flies. My friend said “it might be tough to get all the way to the lookout with little dogs, but the view from the saddle below is almost as good.”. Might be hard with little dogs….pfft….sounds like a challenge to us 🙂 The trail distance is 9 miles RT, with an elevation gain of 3,290 feet and a high point of 6,890 feet. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the trailhead. Photo: There is, *gasp*, a hidden lake up there. I am not going to show you though 🙂

By now you have probably figured out that any hike in the Cascade Mountains with a peak elevation of 5,000 feet or higher is a pretty sure bet. You will be rewarded with amazing views at almost all of them. It just happens that these are 5 that you have to work REALLY hard for.

To check out more trails in Washington, please see the Washington Trails Association Website.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. I’ve been to hidden lake! Love that one. I still need to take our dogs on a hike. One weekend left so this post is very timely!

  2. Have you ever hiked over on Bainbridge Island? I have a blogger friend who lives there and she hikes every day with her two wheatens! I really hope to get to Seattle one day…it looks beautiful there!

    1. I haven’t hiked on Bainbridge Island exactly. I grew up near there and spent a lot of time at State Parks there when I was young. There is a big bicycle ride there every year – The Chilly Hilly. I have never ridden at the event but rode the route once on my own. It’s a ferry ride away from us (so costs $30 to go) and, although beautiful, does not yield the kind of views you get in the mountains.

  3. I wish that I lived near Seattle so I could try your hikes! Our mountain hiking season is probably winding down, as the first big snow usually happens sometime in September 🙁 But sometimes it waits until later… I hope it does this year.

    Enjoy the rest of your hiking season!

    1. Well, our mountains aren’t as high as yours but it does mean we get a longer hiking season. Snow doesn’t show up in the mountains in significant amounts until about mid October or early November.

  4. How fun! For us it would be a nine day adventure…two days to drive there, five day hikes and two days to drive home. We are good travelers, so maybe someday we will make it to Seattle. We know a few humans there, so you never know. We have fun hiking spots in our state but no mountains although some MN residents think of a big hill as a mountain.

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