There are so many options for great hiking near Seattle… 

It’s almost impossible to find them all (no matter how many Puget Sound or North Cascade hiking guides you have). Western Washington is full of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including Cougar Mountain, Mount Si, Denny Creek, and more. If you’re a hiker who’s ever been even an hour north of Seattle along I-5, you’ve passed by one of the Pacific Northwest’s hidden hiking gems: Little Mountain Park in Mount Vernon.

Few hiking spots near Seattle contain such a variety of trails and you could spend nearly the whole day on Little Mountain and not hike every one of them. Experienced mountain bikers can test their skills on the switchbacks on the Bonnie and Clyde’s Trail or Sidewinder, while the La-Z-Boy Trail is great for a leisurely hike or walk up the first mile of the mountain. A trail runner looking for a challenge might consider the Up Only Trail – being one of the steepest climbs in the park, it’s name is both a description and a cautionary tale.

South Viewpoint

Located at the summit parking lot, this covered observation deck offers panoramic views of the lower Skagit Valley, Puget Sound, Camano & Whidbey Islands, and Olympic Mountain Range.


This 1/4 mile long, baby-stroller friendly interpretive trail begins at the East Trailhead leading to a bridge crossing over a seasonal creek, a shaded picnic table, and the start of the Cairn Trail which connects to the rest of the Park's trail system. 


This paraglider styled platform near the summit parking area overlooks the cities of Mount Vernon & Burlington with Padilla Bay, North Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and Mt. Baker beyond.

A trip to Little Mountain is sure to be rewarding for everyone, no matter age or ability. There is a new trail to explore for every hike and endless combinations for a different bike ride or trail run each time. Come in the morning for trail running before breakfast. Drive to the summit in the afternoon for a picnic at the south viewpoint overlooking central Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain Range. Or visit the north viewpoint and watch a summer sunset over the San Juan Islands and North Puget Sound. There’s a wheel-chair accessible, interpretive Nature Trail; a paved road taking you from the bottom of the mountain to the picnic area and overlooks at its top; and miles of trails great for hiking, mountain biking, running, or walking your dog.

Little Mountain is beautiful and accessible all year long. A lot of the hiking spots in the Seattle area get snowed over or become difficult to reach in the winter, but trails on Little Mountain are always available. Cascadia Weekly’s Best of Skagit 2016 issue listed Little Mountain as Skagit Valley’s best spot for hiking, and that’s true in all seasons.

Mount Vernon Trail Builders, a local volunteer group, has spent the past several years creating and improving the nearly ten miles of hiking and biking trails in the park. Photo © Terry Afdem

One of the things that makes the Pacific Northwest great is the dedication communities all around Seattle and the Puget Sound show to protecting opportunities for hiking and other outdoor recreation. Little Mountain Park is a great example of that kind of effort.  Since 2009, hundreds of volunteers have spent over 13,000 hours making the park what it is today. Come and see it for yourself!

After your visit to Little Mountain, consider exploring some other amazing trails in and around Skagit Valley. Blanchard Mountain has incredible views of the Valley and the San Juan Islands, especially on the popular Oyster Dome trail. Little Mountain’s big sister - Mt. Erie in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands, Padilla Bay and Tommy Thompson shoreline trails, Pilchuck Tree Farm featuring a substantial viewpoint art installation. A short ferry ride will take you to the many forest and beach trails on San Juan Island and/or to Orcas Island for hike up Mt. Constitution and overlook North Sound and the lower Skagit Valley. Trails on the island are great for hiking or biking. Further east, is the 22.5 mile long Cascade Trail – Skagit County’s rails-to-trails connection between Sedro Woolley and Concrete. A drive to Mt. Baker National Recreation Area places you on the south side of Baker, near a variety of hiking trails including the wonderful Scott Paul Trail and the East Baker Lake Trail. Skagit Valley is also the gateway to the hundreds of miles of trails throughout North Cascades National Park including the Pacific Crest Trail and Pacific Northwest Trail. Spend an afternoon here and you’ll want to come back again and again!

Recent Posts