Stairway To Heaven

Thereʼs so much more to Seattle than coffee and grunge. Located just on the outskirts of the city are some of the most stunning nature trails in the world. The perfect escape, these scenic vistas offer a wellness experience like no other. Hereʼs our pick of the top four trails to add to your
must-do list.



The mirrored reflection of the surroundings in the alpine Colchuck Lake is a breathtaking visual treat. (Image Credits: Tobin Akehurst/Shutterstock)

Truly a voyage of discovery, this 14.5-kilometre trail is not for the faint hearted, yet is incredibly rewarding. There will be some heart-fluttering moments as the route takes you out of the shade of the ancient evergreen and deciduous forests through a gradually inclined path and into the light of the bare mountain. But it’s all worth it when you cross the meandering waters of Mountaineer Creek using traditional log bridges, a memorable experience in itself. Magical glimpses of Tolkienesque-inspired vistas en route encourage you to walk on, till you reach your journey’s end—the crystal-clear, aquamarine waters of Colchuck Lake. If the sight of this pure alpine waterbody isn’t enough, the perfect reflection of the surrounding peaks on the lake’s mirrored surface is certain to take your breath away. There is something almost Arthurian about this journey and you can easily imagine the Lady of the Lake presenting you with the Excalibur. This sense of mythology is further enhanced by the names of the places you pass on your quest, such as Asgard Pass and Dragontail. Difficulty Scale: Hard


The gushing waters of Bridal Veil Falls make their way through dense green foliage. (Image Credits: Mitchell Strenk/Shutterstock)

There is something incredibly romantic about this trail. And the light fog that envelops the area, along with the old sentinel trees draped in green moss add to that ethereal feeling. The 12.2-kilometre-long trail makes its way through dense green trees on its way up to Lake Serene. Along the way, the path splits off to offer a slight detour to Bridal Veil Falls. These spectacular falls flow true to their name as they gently caress the rock face like a piece of delicate lace. If you have the time, do stop for a quick swim under the cascading waters—it will be an experience of a lifetime. Continuing on to Lake Serene, the trail weaves its way through mainly deciduous forests and gently drops into ravines as it sweeps around the base of the cliffs. As you arrive at the picturesque lake, Lunch Rock presents a beautiful vantage point with unhindered, cinematic views of the surrounding mountains and breathtaking scenery. Difficulty Scale: Moderate/Hard


Lush meadows filled with colourful flowers create a scenic vista at the Skyline Trail Loop. (Image Credits: Edmund Lowe Photography/Shutterstock)

Without a doubt, the poster child for nature trails in Seattle. Promising an intensely cathartic journey, the path meanders through sweetly scented meadows featuring a sea of colourful wildflowers that lead on to fields covered with snow and rocky rubble. Approximately 6.6 kilometres long, the trail from Paradise Inn to Panorama Point is one of the most popular and dramatic routes here. Regardless of, or perhaps because of the snowfall that covers everything in a pristine, white blanket in winters, it’s frequented by visitors almost year-round. Set against the backdrop of the magnificent Mt. Rainier, the route weaves through captivating alpine groves, with a riveting stretch that crosses over a pretty waterfall—a mesmerising treat for the eyes and the soul. Despite the overbearing temptation to leave the path and frolic in the meadows, it’s highly recommended you stay on it to avoid trampling on the flowers. Difficulty Scale: Moderate


Summer envelops the mountain in a kaleidoscope of warm colours on the Maple Pass Trail. (Image Credits: Susu Studio/Shutterstock)

A trail for all seasons, this route offers something unique at any given time of the year—from dramatic snowscapes to glorious summer-alpine meadows that would make even the Alps jealous. The trail can be experienced as either an 11.9-kilometre version or a more manageable 7.2-kilometre version. The trail circumvents the relatively petite and sheltered Lake Ann, which reflects the steep, wildflower-bejewelled meadows above in the summer. These swathes of alpine flowers are replaced by the rich rusts, yellows, and oranges of autumn, making it, arguably, one of the best trails to experience at that time of year. Once on the ridge, you are rewarded by views that unfold towards the North Cascades National Park and the various mountain ranges, and it soon becomes apparent why this is such a beloved trail. Difficulty Scale: Easy


Passes are mandatory for accessing any of the trails in Seattle, Washington. These are available online and begin at ₹370 for
a day pass.

Plan ahead, carry all essentials, check the weather, and dress properly.

Be sure to let someone know where you’re going and, if possible, share the route.

Follow the rules and stay on the trail.

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