Washington state has some truly spectacular sunsets. They’re even better, and less crowded, if you’re able to get out and hike a little. Whether you prefer a short trail near the city or a more challenging path in the mountains, sunset hikes near Seattle are will leave you wanting more.

I’ve lived close to Seattle for most of my life and hiking is a thing for me. As are sunsets. There is something undeniably enchanting about sunset hikes and I sincerely hope you have the opportunity to experience at least one in your lifetime.

Know Before You Go
*Download the trail map in advance.
*Bring a headlamp, as well as a first aid kit.
*Bring snacks and water.

Sunset hikes near Seattle
Wander Healthy

Epic Sunset Hikes near Seattle

If you’re looking for a hike to watch the sunset, look no further. Here are the best hiking trails, listed in order of proximity to Seattle.

flowers at sunset
West Tiger #3

1. Discovery Park and Lighthouse Loop Trail

Discovery Park provides a long-standing oasis for urban dwellers and the Loop Trail is one of the best evening hikes near Seattle. I try to do this hike whenever I’m near the area, even if it isn’t close to sunset.

The trail meanders along the picturesque shoreline of Puget Sound, with the Olympic Mountains providing a stunning backdrop on a relatively clear day, even without the setting sun.

Location: Seattle
Distance from Seattle: in Seattle
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 485 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: none

2. Chirico Trail to Poo Poo Point Trail

The Chirico Trail to Poo Poo Point hike is a popular and scenic trail located in Issaquah, with breathtaking views after a challenging (at times) hike to the top. The top is a wonderful place to view the sunset, particularly when paragliders and hang gliders are launching right in front of you.

Location: Issaquah
Distance from Seattle: 18.8 miles
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain:  1637 feet
Difficulty: moderate to hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: none

3. West Tiger #3

What once was a popular training trail without a view, West Tiger #3 has become a spot for magical sunsets and wonderfully beautiful wildflowers (in July).  There are two routes you can take on the way up, one hard and one even harder. The longer route, West Tiger #3, is easier.

An alternative and significantly more challenging way up is West Tiger #3 via Cable Line. This hike starts just outside the designated parking area, so a parking pass is not necessary. It is 4.6 miles and 2001 feet gain, going nearly straight up the mountain.

Location: near Issaquah
Distance from Seattle: 19.8
Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1948 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Discover Pass

mountains at sunset
Mt Si

4. Mount Si

An iconic, and crowded, hike not far from Seattle at all. What few people seem to realize is that is even more beautiful and significantly more peaceful as a sunset hike.

The best views are found by exploring the rock outcroppings on the Rainier side, so careful footing and dexterity comes in handy. Especially after the sun goes down.

Location: North Bend, WA
Distance from Seattle: 35 miles
Distance: 7.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3395 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Discover Pass

5. Bandera Mountain

A steep climb for a beautiful view, even if the sun doesn’t sparkle on its way out. You’ll get a fantastic view of the Snoqualmie Valley and gorgeous mountainscapes. This is another one that is tricky in the light going up, so will require even more caution on the way down in the dark.

Location:  near Snoqualmie Pass
Distance from Seattle: 46.7 miles
Distance: 7.6 miles
Elevation Gain:  3261
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

6. Granite Mountain Lookout Trail

This is one of the very best sunset hikes Washington has to offer. It’s one of my absolute favorites! You have epic views of Rainier on one side and the Teanaways on the other. But you’ll have to work for the view and if you time it right, you’ll be walking through fields of wildflowers or blueberries along the way.

Location: near Snoqualmie Pass
Distance from Seattle: 47.2 miles
Distance: 7.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3717 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

sunset landscape
Granite Mountain Lookout

7. Lake Serene

Steep is an understatement for this hike. I feel like the presence of stairs makes it seem like more of an incline than it actually is, but either way it’s a great workout.

Be sure to explore the lake first and catch the sunset as you’re set to return. You should see the valley view on your way up, nearly to the lake, and know where to go when the sun starts to go down.

Location: near Gold Bar
Distance from Seattle: 53 miles
Distance: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2798 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

8. Heybrook Lookout

Heybrook Lookout is a fantastic hike even without a sunset. This short but rewarding trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The well-maintained path winds through the greenest, lushest forests, leading you to a historic fire lookout tower perched atop Heybrook Ridge.

Location: near Index
Distance from Seattle: 58 miles
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation Gain:  879 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: none

9. Ebey’s Landing

Traveling north of Seattle, you’ll discover Ebey’s Landing, a hidden gem on Whidbey Island. This coastal hike offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the surrounding farmlands.

The trail itself traverses a variety of terrains, including beach, prairie, and cliffside landscapes. Take in the coastal breeze and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves as you relish the unforgettable sunset vistas.

Location:  Coupeville
Distance from Seattle: 59 miles
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain:  324 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Discover Pass

sunset hikes near Seattle
Bandera Mountain

10. Mount Pilchuck

Iconic for a reason. I’ve yet to meet someone who has been here and doesn’t want to return. Mount Pilchuck Lookout trail offers a challenging yet rewarding sunset hike.

The trail takes you through old-growth forests, alpine meadows, and finally to the summit lookout. On clear evenings, you can see the sun casting its final rays on the Cascade Range, with Mount Rainier stealing the show.

Location: near Granite Falls
Distance from Seattle: 59 miles
Distance: 5.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2152 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

11. Silver Peak Trail

This scenic trail has every possible kind of terrain and unimaginable views. Be prepared for some steep sections and rocky terrain along the way however. You’ll have to earn it, and be prepared for anything at the top, from high winds to an intense mosquito conference.

This one also is best done by those with navigation skills, as the trail can be confusing depending on the time of year you go.

Location:  Snoqualmie Pass
Distance from Seattle: 59.1 miles
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1994 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

12. Tolmie Peak Trail

The is an exceptional hike, one of the best sunset hikes Mt Rainier has to offer. The highlight of this at times strenuous hike is reaching Tolmie Peak, where a historic fire lookout tower stands tall, offering views of the surrounding mountain ranges, Rainier itself, and the Eunice Lake below.

Location: Carbonado
Distance from Seattle: 70 miles
Distance: 5.6 miles
Elevation Gain:  1555 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: no
Parking Permit: National Park Pass

Oyster Dome at sunset
Oyster Dome

13. Oyster Dome Trail

The Oyster Dome Trail is an outstanding sunset hike in the Chuckanut Mountains near Bellingham, WA. The trail meanders through mossy forests and rocky terrain before reaching the iconic Oyster Dome viewpoint, where you’ll have a beautiful view of the sun setting on the San Juan Islands.

Location: near Bow
Distance from Seattle: 76.1 miles
Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1879 feet
Difficulty: Hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Discover Pass

14.Kelly Butte Lookout Trail

Another unforgettable sunset trail at a lookout. Are you sensing a theme here? Kelly Butte is well known not only for it’s magical trail and awe-inspiring views, but also for the road that takes you there. Not the easiest to follow and not very many signs to help you on your way.

Be sure to download your map before you leave home, as you’ll be relying on it entirely on the way out in the dark.

Location: near Greenwater
Distance from Seattle: 77.7 miles
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain:  1089 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

15. Naches Peak Loop

One of the best hikes in all of Washington, without or without the sun. This is a charming trail with lovely views for very little effort. This loop trail offers breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, meadows adorned with wildflowers, and pristine alpine lakes.

Go well before sunset, take your time and soak up everything it has to offer.

Location: near Goose Prairie
Distance from Seattle: 88 miles
Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain:  659 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: no
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Fire lookout at sunset
Kelly Butte Lookout

16. Burroughs Mountain

The beauty of a sunset hike here is that you get the lovely views without having to suffer the heat of the day, as your hike is otherwise mostly through an unshaded landscape that just keeps climbing. Keep a lookout for goats, tons of marmots and even a black bear or two.

Location:  Mount Rainier, Sunset Visitor Center
Distance from Seattle: 96 miles
Distance: 8.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2437
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: no
Parking Permit: National Park Pass

17. Mt Fremont Lookout

I don’t even know how many times I’ve hiked here for a sunrise or sunset, but it has never gotten old. This is one of my favorites, and I think perhaps where all of Seattle goes to watch the sunset.

Be prepared for crowds, bugs, deceivingly hungry chipmunks and extremely cold wind even in the summer. It’s all worth it, every time.

Location: Mount Rainier, Sunrise Visitor Center
Distance from Seattle: 96 miles
Distance: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain:  1108 feet gain
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: no
Parking Permit: National Park Pass

18. Mt Storm King

Mt. Storm King is also an excellent choice for a sunset hike. Although it’s a remarkably challenging trail, the breathtaking views from the summit make it well worth the effort.

The setting sun lights up the Olympic Mountains, Lake Crescent, and the surrounding landscapes, creating a mesmerizing scene.

Location: near Port Angeles
Distance from Seattle: 104.5
Distance: 4.1 miles
Elevation Gain:  2106 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: no
Parking Permit: National Park Pass

Fremont lookout at sunset
Fremont Lookout

19. Red Top Lookout

The majority of your time for this hike will be spent driving a long and winding road nearly to the top of the mountain. Once there, it’s a short and mildly steep hike to the lookout for an amazing view, whatever time of day you arrive.

If you arrive early enough, you can take a side detour towards the beginning of the trail (0.2 mi) and hunt for agates and thunder eggs.

Location: near Cle Elum
Distance from Seattle: 106 miles
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation Gain: 308 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

20. Mt Ellinor

Mount Ellinor is known for some stunning sunset views. It’s a popular hike in the Olympic National Forest and offers sweeping panoramic vistas from its summit. The mountain has two main trails: Lower Trail and Upper Trail.

The Upper Trail is the more challenging route, but it provides better views. Either way, the summit has a breathtaking 360-degree view of the mountains and lakes nearby.

Location: near Hoodsport
Distance from Seattle: 112 miles
Distance: 5.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3398 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

21. Chain Lakes Loop

Chain Lakes Loop is another good option for a sunset hike. The Loop is located is in the North Cascades and offers stunning alpine scenery and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including Mt Baker if the clouds cooperate.

The loop takes you past several picturesque mountain lakes, including Bagley Lakes, Chain Lakes, and Iceberg Lake. These lakes provide beautiful reflections during sunset, creating a serene and photogenic setting.

The open terrain and mountain vistas along the trail also make it possible to witness the changing colors of the sky as the sun sets.

Location:  Maple Falls
Distance from Seattle: 138 miles
Distance: 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain:  1794 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

sunset hikes near Seattle
Poo Poo Point

22.Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach is a short and stunning coastal destination known for its rugged beauty and its amazing sunsets. The beach itself is relatively flat, and the hike to it is pretty easy. It’s a fantastic spot to watch the sunset and capture beautiful photographs.

Location:  near Forks, WA
Distance from Seattle: 185 miles
Distance:  1 miles
Elevation Gain:  49 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: none

23. Shi Shi Beach

If you’re looking for the best beach sunset hike in Washington, this is it. The hike itself is charming, the beach is glorious and the haystacks at sunset are spectacular. Go in late summer or fall, for best position of the sun. Also try to time it for low tides for the optimum time spent exploring tide pools.

Location:  near Neah Bay
Distance from Seattle: 212.7 miles
Distance: 8.8 miles
Elevation Gain:  561 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dogs allowed: no
Parking Permit: Makah Reservation Pass, and if camping, ONP backcountry permit

24. Dog Mountain

An absolutely gorgeous, if strenuous, hike in the southern-most part of the state. Dog Mountain is extremely popular and parking is by permit only on weekends starting in May.

If you’re up for the crowds, you can combine a gorgeous sunset with wonderful wildflowers. Keep a lookout for rattlesnakes, scorpions and ticks on this one. Just keep a lookout and dress appropriately, but don’t let it deter you from a truly wonderful view at sunset.

Location:  near Carson
Distance from Seattle: 215.8 miles
Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2988 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dogs allowed: yes, on leash
Parking Permit: Nortwest Foest Pass, plus permit on weekends in Spring

Dog Mountain at sunset during wildflower season
Dog Mountain

Tips and Tricks for a Sensational Sunset

Sunsets are captivating natural phenomena influenced by various environmental factors. Here are some of the key elements that contribute to a visually appealing sunset.

Weather Patterns

Certain weather conditions can enhance the beauty of a sunset. Cloud formations add depth and texture to the sky, allowing the sunlight to interact with the clouds and create stunning visual effects. Partially cloudy skies often produce dramatic and colorful sunsets.

Moisture and Humidity

Moisture and humidity in the air can contribute to a spectacular sunset. The presence of water droplets or moisture particles can scatter the sunlight, creating a soft and diffused glow.

In some cases, the humidity can lead to the formation of atmospheric phenomena like halos, sun pillars, or crepuscular rays that add a unique touch to the sunset.

Altitude and Landscape

The geographical location and the surrounding landscape can significantly affect the appearance of a sunset. Sunsets experienced at higher altitudes often showcase a wider expanse of the sky, providing a larger canvas for the interplay of colors.

Coastal areas and locations with expansive horizons can create stunning sunset vistas, especially when water bodies reflect and amplify the colors.

Air quality

A little bit of wildfire smoke makes for a prettier sunset, but a lot interferes with the colors, your enjoyment and your health. Make sure to check the air quality index for your sunset location, especially in August through October.

Time of Year

The time of year can influence the quality of a sunset due to variations in the Earth’s axial tilt and the path of the sun across the sky. During certain seasons, such as summer, the angle at which the sun sets can be lower, leading to longer and more dramatic sunsets.

During the winter however, the sun sets earlier in the evening which can make winter hiking for a sunset more accessible for many of us. We get to sleep in a little longer, but not much!

It’s important to note that personal preferences and subjective interpretations also play a role in perceiving a sunset as “good.” Each sunset is unique, and the combination of these environmental factors can create a wide range of stunning sunset experiences.

Shi Shi Beach at sunset
Shi Shi Beach

How to Plan for a Sunset Hike

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice adventurer, a sunset hike can be a truly memorable experience even if you don’t plan. Planning ahead helps to ensure that it’s a good experience too.

Choosing the Perfect Location

The first step in planning a sunset hike is selecting the perfect location. Consider factors such as proximity to your area, level of difficulty, and the type of scenery you desire. Mountains, coastlines, and parks often offer fantastic sunset views.

Research local trails, read reviews, and seek recommendations to find the best spots. Popular choices might include Fremont Lookout, Poo Poo Point, or Discovery Park Loop Trail near Seattle.

Alternatively, explore lesser-known destinations for a more intimate experience, such as Granite Mountain or Shi Shi Beach. Remember to check trail conditions, accessibility, and any permit requirements before finalizing your choice.

Timing and Weather

Timing is crucial when it comes to sunset hikes. Plan to arrive at your chosen location with ample time to set up and find a comfortable spot to enjoy the sunset.

Research the sunset time for your chosen date and factor in the duration of your hike. Keep in mind that the sun will seem to set earlier in the mountains depending on what obstacles are between you and the sun.

Begin your hike early enough to reach your vantage point before the sun starts its descent. Additionally, keep an eye on the weather forecast. Clear skies are ideal for capturing vibrant sunset colors, but partly cloudy skies can create dramatic effects too.

Preparing Essential Gear

To ensure a successful and enjoyable sunset hike, it’s crucial to pack the necessary gear. Start with the basics, including sturdy hiking boots, appropriate clothing layers, bug netting if necessary and a comfortable backpack to carry your belongings.

Consider bringing a headlamp or flashlight for the hike back in case darkness falls faster than expected. Additionally, pack snacks, water, and a first-aid kit. Don’t forget essential navigation tools such as a map, compass, or GPS device.

If you plan to capture the sunset with your camera, pack spare batteries, memory cards, and a tripod to stabilize your shots.

Safety and Etiquette

Prioritize safety during your sunset hike by adhering to a few essential guidelines. Inform someone of your hiking plans, including your chosen location, expected return time, and any alternative plans. Stay on marked trails, follow posted signs, and be mindful of your surroundings.

Keep a safe distance from cliff edges, particularly during low-light conditions. Practice Leave No Trace principles, respecting nature by packing out any trash and avoiding damage to plants or wildlife. If hiking alone, exercise caution and be aware of your limitations.

Lastly, be considerate of other hikers by maintaining a reasonable noise level and yielding the trail when necessary.

Immersing in the Sunset Experience

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and the unique experience that awaits. Take the time to appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

Observe the changing colors of the sky, the gentle fading of daylight, and the subtle sounds of nature. Find a comfortable spot to sit or set up your camera to capture the evolving sunset hues. Take deep breaths, relish the solitude or share the moment with loved ones.

Remember, the sunset hike is as much about embracing the magic of nature as it is about capturing the perfect photograph.

Capturing Stunning Sunset Photographs

If photography is your passion, a sunset hike offers an excellent opportunity to capture breathtaking images. Experiment with different camera settings, such as adjusting exposure levels, using a tripod for stability, and utilizing filters to enhance colors.

Incorporate elements of the surrounding landscape into your compositions to add depth and context. Be patient and wait for the perfect moment when the sky is ablaze with vibrant hues.

Remember to also put down your camera occasionally and simply enjoy the spectacle unfolding before your eyes. Sunset hikes are about creating lasting memories, and sometimes the best moments are the ones we experience without a lens.

FAQs about Sunsets Near Seattle

Where are the best sunsets in Washington state?

The best sunsets in Washington state can be experienced at popular locations like Ruby Beach and Shi Shi Beach. These scenic coastal spots offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, where vibrant colors paint the sky as the sun sets behind the horizon.

Where is the best place to see the sunset in Mount Rainier?

The best place to see the sunset in Mount Rainier is at Reflection Lakes. Located on the southern side of the mountain, these pristine lakes offer stunning reflections of the peak and provide a picturesque setting to witness the vibrant colors of the sunset against the majestic backdrop of Mount Rainier.

Where can I watch the sunrise in Snoqualmie?

To watch the sunrise in Snoqualmie, head to Snoqualmie Point Park. This scenic park offers panoramic views of the Snoqualmie Valley, where you can witness the stunning spectacle of the sun rising over the Cascade Mountains. The elevated vantage point provides an ideal setting to capture the beauty of the sunrise.

Where is Mailbox Peak?

Mailbox Peak is near the town of North Bend, approximately 30 miles east of Seattle. The trail is known for its challenging ascent and rewarding panoramic views from the summit, making it a popular hiking destination.

Final Thoughts on Sunset Hikes

Sunset hikes hold a special allure, blending the beauty of nature with the captivating display of colors as the sun goes down for the day. Remember, each hike is a unique adventure, and the true magic lies in connecting with nature, appreciating the journey, and creating lasting memories.