On a gorgeous October Saturday – one that felt more like summer than fall – I found myself wife-free, so I packed up the dog and went for a hike. Because we didn’t have a lot of time, we went to Rattlesnake Ledge.
I’d venture to guess it’s one of the Seattle area’s most popular hikes, and for good reason. It’s only 35 minutes from the city, all on paved roads. It’s 4 miles round-trip and is a moderate but steady 1,100 foot climb. That’s enough to give you a nice workout but doesn’t consume a huge chunk of your day. And the payoff at the top is great, especially for a hike that can be done in less than 3 hours door-to-door.
As you head east on Interstate 90, Rattlesnake Ledge is right at the beginning of the Cascade Mountains, practically in the suburbs. You hike up through the forest to the top of a cliff (the Ledge) that, once you’re there, looks like it juts straight out of the lake below. It makes an excellent picnic spot.
It’s definitely not a secluded hike, though, so be prepared to share the trail. I usually don’t like that, but the number and variety of people I see on this trail is encouraging. Outdoor recreation – and environmentalism in general – faces a challenging future as the U.S. becomes increasingly urban, ethnically diverse, and “screen”-oriented in its entertainment choices. Unfortunately, hiking trails sometimes draw a pretty monotonous crowd. But for whatever reason (super-easy access probably has something to do with it), Rattlesnake Ledge draws a lot of people that you wouldn’t typically see hiking up the side of a mountain: people of different ages, sizes, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
It’s good to see, and I’m glad they choose this trail. If Rattlesnake Ledge doesn’t inspire you to try some of Washington’s other beautiful mountain hikes, nothing will.