Jun 2, 2024 - News

Cool hikes to crush summer heat

The entrance of an old tunnel surrounded by lush forest greenery.

The eerie entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel. Photo: Megan Burbank/Axios

If you're a hiker, summer in the Pacific Northwest is the most wonderful time of year, when a paradise of trails to explore opens up after the spring melt.

Yes, but: On scorching hot days, hiking in direct sunlight is probably the last thing you want to do.

Here are some of the region's best shady and pleasantly cool, low-mileage and low-elevation hikes that fit the bill when it's hot but you still want to stretch your legs — all within an easy drive of Seattle.

Snoqualmie Tunnel: It's an always cool, 5.3-mile out-and-back hike on the Palouse to Cascades Trail, much of it through a decommissioned railway tunnel.

  • Bring layers, a good flashlight and a snack or lunch to eat in the sunshine at the end of the tunnel before making your trek back through the dark.

Denny Creek: A 6-mile round-trip tour of waterfalls in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

  • Denny Creek is a summer staple for a reason — after a gentle mile in, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with a cooling dip at a natural waterslide.

Beaver Lake: Nestled off Mountain Loop Highway near Darrington, this is an easy 3-mile out-and-back hike with good tree cover most of the way.

  • A pleasant, old railway grade leads to an idyllic viewpoint over the Sauk River.

Washington Park Arboretum: Perfect for families, cute dates, picnickers and anyone too hot to drive outside the city limits.

  • With its bright florals and meandering paths through bucolic greenery, this is the only walk on this list with Bridgerton vibes.

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