North Bend Hikes Dirty Harry's Balcony
Dirty Harry’s Balcony Hike, sunrise
Wander Healthy

I’ve lived here for nearly two decades and have done all the North Bend hikes many times, in the winter, spring, summer and fall. The short hikes, the long hikes, with beginners and with thru hikers.

Here are my recommendations for the best North Bend, WA hiking trails and what makes each one special to me. This list doesn’t include the hikes near North Bend, such as all the Snoqualmie Pass hikes. There are so many great ones up there that they deserved a page of their own.

Know Before You Go
*The earlier you go, the better your odds of getting parking.
*Deer and elk use our roads too, so always keep a lookout for them when driving.
*Do not leave valuables in your car.

North Bend Hiking Trails

All hikes around North Bend are within the domain of Snoqualmie Indian Tribe Ancestral Lands. This land holds significant cultural and historical value for the Snoqualmie Tribe and should be treated with respect at all times when recreating on it.

Easy North Bend Trails

These are the best hikes for beginners in North Bend, WA. They’re perfect for people just starting out and for little ones as well.

Oxbow Loop Trail
Oxbow Loop Trail, North Bend, WA

1. Oxbow Loop Trail

  • Mileage: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 72 feet
  • When to go: late spring to late fall
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes:
    • Kid friendly
    • Dogs on leash
    • Mountain views
    • Bird watching
    • Benches along the way
    • Great views of Russian Butte and Garfield Mountain on a clear day

This hike is utterly charming hidden gem on a sunny day. Moss-lined trees, birds swimming fishing and a quaint bridge to view the lake. Beavers can often be seen swimming around as well.

Local Tip: If you park in the overflow lot, just past the main lot, you will find a set of stacked logs on your way to the main trail that makes an excellent photo opportunity with a river and mountain backdrop. It also makes a fun obstacle for children to climb on!

2. Garfield Ledges

  • Mileage:1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 686 feet
  • When to go: Dryer months for less mud, but essentially year-round
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes :
    • Picnic tables and restrooms available at trailhead
    • Frequent human-bear interaction; bring bear spray and make noise
    • Mostly shaded hike
    • Fantastic viewpoint about ½ mile up

This hike is perfect for little ones learning to love the outdoors and you just might fall in love with the greenery of the second growth forest on this hike. It can be muddy and slippery at times however, especially in the winter.

This is a low effort for great reward kind of hike, even better on a sunny day.

Local Tip: Nearly at the end of the road to the trailhead is some pretty rough road. It is the end of county maintenance on the road. I don’t recommend low clearance vehicles on it, but you will find many brave souls that do.

Alternatively, you can park before the bridge and the potholes begin and walk just a little further.

3. Middlefork Snoqualmie River Trail

  • Mileage: 24.7 miles, or not
  • Elevation gain: 3375, or considerably less
  • When to go: year round
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes :
    • Can be muddy and slippery in winter
    • Turning right after the bridge takes you to a different trail, the Pratt River Trail; turning left is the Middlefork Snoqualmie River Trail
    • Multi-use trail certain days of the year; be prepared for mountain bikers on odd-numbered days between June and October

Go as far as you want, turn around and come back. Simple as that. The beautiful bridge, at the very beginning of the trail, was built in collaboration between the Forest Service and local hikers.

Local Tip: Most people avoid this trail because of it’s length, but there is beauty the entire way and you need only go as far you have the time and desire for.

It’s one of the quieter and greener hikes in North Bend, even on busy days. This one fills you with a sense of wonder and gratitude, as well as beautiful views along the way.

Moderate Hikes

Rattlesnake Ledge Sunrise
Rattlesnake Ledge at sunrise

4. Twin Falls

  • Mileage: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 636 feet
  • When to go: year round
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes :
    • Can be muddy, icy and slippery in winter months
    • Do not leave valuables in the car at trailhead
    • This trail joins the John Wayne Trailhead at the top; follow your map to know when to turn around

This hike is beautiful whatever the season. Ice and snow add a magical touch in the winter, but microspikes are a must at this time. You can also see evidence of our local elk herd on this hike.

Local Tip: People often miss the stairs going down to the right, just before crossing the bridge over the waterfall itself. The stairs take you to the best view of the falls.

5. Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

  • Mileage: 5.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1460 feet
  • When to go: year round
  • Parking permit: none
  • Worthy notes :
    • Look for eagles soaring
    • Giant moss-covered boulders at the base of the hike
    • Recently revitalized and usually a very well maintained trail
    • Restroom facilities at trailhead
    • Exposed at the top and often icy in winter; people have fallen from the top

This is the place to go for a beautiful sunrise or sunset in North Bend, WA, although it’s not the only one. If you hike in or out during the dark, bring company, headlamps, a whistle and bear spray.

To get to the trail, you walk along a service road a little ways around the lake. The lake is a popular place for all kinds of wildlife, including the four-legged kind. I have seen cougars and black bears here in the early morning.

Local Tip: If you look down and to the left, just before heading up the last incline to the top, you just might see mountain goats hanging out in the quieter green of the mountainside.

Local Tip #2: If you arrive before the gate opens, or plan to leave after it closes, park in the small lot to the right just before the gate.

6. Dirty Harry’s Balcony via Birdhouse Trail

  • Mileage: 4.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1500 feet
  • When to go: year round
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes :
    • Trail begins in the woods and comes out onto service road after a short ways. Take a left to cross the bridge and you can resume hiking on the trail to the right just after the bridge
    • There are a lot of signs about cliff danger because there are many rock climbers in this area.
    • If you reach the sign saying Ira Spring Connector, you’ve gone slightly too far. A map is very useful for this hike.

Another beautiful hike for sunrises, and bears, so bring bear spray just in case. There are two places for amazing views, the top and just over halfway to the top. My personal favorite is the lower one, because there’s more space and the giant boulder is a dramatic touch in photos.

Photography Tip: If you lower your camera, you can use the boulder to block out the freeway in your picture. Often though, the low clouds will cover the freeway for you.

Local Tip: Dirty Harry’s Museum is an extra mile and worth seeing a logging truck that’s been up there for many decades. It’s a bit of a secret spot, so best to go with someone who has already been there.

7. Teneriffe falls

  • Mileage: 5.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1500 feet
  • When to go: year round
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes :
    • Best in Spring, when the water is flowing the fastest
    • Some areas of loose rocks, boulders and steep drop-offs
    • 22 switchbacks to the base of the falls, with a small viewing area

This hike used to be called Kamikaze Falls, because of how fast the water comes down from the top and how steep the trail is going up to the summit of Mount Teneriffe (after the falls). This waterfall mostly freezes for a good part of winter and is even more beautiful.

Local Tip: Check trip reports first, as always, and use your map. Sometimes in the spring the water is overflowing the creek bed and onto the trail itself at one switchback in particular. Many people turn around at this point, thinking that they’ve seen the falls.

Difficult Hikes

Mt Si at sunset
Mount. Si, North Bend, WA

8. Mount Si Trail

  • Mileage: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3400 feet
  • When to go: summer months are easier but winter is prettier
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes :
    • Look for the bench overlooking Snoqualmie Valley
    • Look for a plaque commemorating a young man who died there while hiking Haystack
    • You can often see goats up here, give them space. A lot of space
    • Excellent location for a sunrise or sunset snack
    • Bring spikes if going in winter

This is Washington’s most popular hike, and for many reasons. The view is unbelievably beautiful. Especially at sunset. It’s mostly switchbacks, so not very difficult in terms of terrain. Just long and steep. And it’s a great training hike for bigger dreams.

A common misconception is that once you’ve reached the top and explored the rocky boulders behind the most common viewpoint, that you’ve hiked what is called Haystack. You have not.

Haystack is the enormous boulder behind the small boulder area and is not safe to hike without advanced technical skills.

Another common misconception is that if you can summit in less than 2 hours, you’re ready to tackle Mount Rainier. While still quite an accomplishment, this is not true.

What may be more accurate is that if you can summit in less than 2 hours, carrying a 50 pound backpack, you’re ready to summit Rainier.

Local Tip: Some hikers get bored with this hike but I have done it more times than I can remember and I am always delighted by something new.  Keeping an open attitude will keep you from being bored everywhere you go.  Also, winter sunsets are unreal from the bench.

9. Mailbox Peak

  • Mileage: 4.8 miles (old trail), 10.3 miles (new trail)
  • Elevation gain: 4000
  • When to go: year round; easier in summer
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes:
    • Bring more water than you think you’ll need
    • Park in the overflow lot if you think you won’t make it out before the gate closes
    • Spikes necessary in winter, sometimes crampons
    • 360o views from the top
    • There actually is a mailbox at the top – take something out, put something in

There are 4 possible routes for this hike. Up and down the new trail. The same on the old trail. Up one trail and down the other, or the opposite. The new one is full of long switchbacks, while the old trail is an “unrelentingly steep, rooted, rocky, muddy torture test.”

This quote from WTA, Washington’s official volunteer hiking association. The two trails meet up about a mile before the summit, so either way you get the joy (?) of the last great push to the summit.

Local Tip: The old route has character, if any hike does. It’s full of characters too. People training for bigger and better things or people just crazy enough to enjoy this kind of a challenge on an extremely regular basis.

You’re never alone on this mountain. Mailbox Peak has an epic community of its’ own, all willing and happy to share a smile and a story.

10. Mount Teneriffe

  • Mileage: 11 miles
  • Elevation gain: 4000 feet
  • When to go: summer is the safest, but winter is more beautiful
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes:
    • You can take a detour from trail to see the falls
    • Taking the Kamikaze route up or down is ill-advised during any season
    • There are 360o views from the top, even more beautiful than Mailbox
    • There’s a rocky scramble to the summit
    • The gate locks at 4:00 in winter time

This is quite possibly my favorite hike near North Bend. It’s also one of the hardest hikes in North Bend. Maybe a bit extreme in the winter.

Nowhere else has the spectacular views and nowhere else is so sparsely populated by hikers. Views of Mailbox, Mt Washington, Mt Baker and Mt Rainier are all gorgeous on a clear day.

Local Tip: A fun alternative to going back down the Teneriffe route is often used when training for the Enchantments. Take the Mt Si connector trail that runs along the top of the two and take the Mt Si trail down.

This adds a little more mileage, feels more like trekking, and a lot more variability to the hike.

11. Dirty Harry’s Peak Trail

  • Mileage: 9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3507 feet
  • When to go: summer
  • Parking permit: Discover Pass
  • Worthy Notes:
    • Some stream crossing possible in the Spring
    • Advanced navigation skills required in winter
    • Consider bringing microspikes even in June
    • Not a great deal of space at the summit
    • Wildflowers in spring before the Balcony

This is the more challenging route that splits to the left, just before reaching Dirty Harry’s Balcony, in case the Balcony is not enough for you. It’s a fantastic workout with beautiful views at the peak, especially of Mount Rainier on a sunny day.

Local Tip: This trail, beyond the Balcony split, is quieter, less crowded and more peaceful than many of the other more challenging hikes in North Bend. What I like most about this hike is how varied the terrain is, lots of changing scenery and landscapes along the way.

How to Get to North Bend

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North Bend is 30 miles east of Seattle. You can take I-405 or I-5 to reach I-90 east, then enjoy the drive. Consider stopping at Snoqualmie Falls in Snoqualmie along the way.

Where to Eat in North Bend, Washington

There are several healthy dining options in North Bend, that offer something for everyone.

North Bend Bar & Grill

  • 145 E North Bend Way, North Bend, WA 98045
  • Open daily from 9 am to 9 pm

Their healthiest and most delicious menu item may just be the Salmon Quinoa Salad, though the Sweet Potato Fries are also fantastic.

Arete Cafe

  • Located inside Pro Ski and Mountain Service, 112 W 2nd St Ste C, North Bend, WA 98045
  • 6:30 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday; closing at 6:00 on Saturday and 5:00 on Sunday

Best bet for health and goodness – Avocado Toast

Where to Stay

You can continue your outdoor experience at one of many campgrounds close by or choose an indoor basecamp for your adventure.

Salish Lodge and Spa

  • 6501 Railroad Ave
  • Snoqualmie, WA 98065

The Salish Lodge and Spa is an amazing resort that looks down on Snoqualmie Falls. They offer a variety of spa treatments and services, as well as spectacular dining experiences.

Hilton Garden Inn Issaquah

  • 1800 NW Gilman Blvd
  • Issaquah, WA 98027

The Hilton Garden in Issaquah is halfway between Bellevue and Snoqualmie. The Inn offers the the usual amenities, is within walking distance of several retail stores and restaurants, and allows pets for an additional fee.

Final Thoughts: Best Hikes in North Bend

These are some of the very best hiking trails near North Bend Washington. It’s really an amazing area for outdoor adventure and has so much to offer people of every skill and fitness level.

When you’re finished hiking, consider exploring the many other things to do in North Bend, have dinner at North Bend Bar & Grill or stop by Arete Café for a quick and deliciously healthy bite to eat.