Tucked high up in the Cascades, Lake Serene offers beautiful views of the snow-covered lake against the 3000-ft vertical cliffs right behind it. The hike takes you through the forest in the lower section, past Bridal Veil Falls, and quickly ascends into snowy terrain before opening up to the lake. I hiked this last month and found it to be a moderate to challenging hike, mainly because of the snow. But with the right preparations it’s a manageable hike with rewarding views and even avalanche sightings!
A couple weekends ago, I hiked to Wallace Falls since it was one of the few hikes accessible in Seattle during the winter. It was an easy half-day hike that goes through thick forests, crosses picturesque wooden bridges, and offers beautiful views of several waterfalls.
Last year, when I told my friends I’m heading to Seattle for a few months starting in October, their first reaction was ‘Why?! Winter is worst time of the year to be in Seattle!’ I’ve heard winters can be melancholy here, but despite everyone’s warnings, I booked my Airbnb and drove up from sunny California shortly after. Fast forward to present day, it’s been over four months here and I wanted to share how winter in Seattle has been like.
Seattle got covered in over a foot of fluffy snow over three days in one of the first snowstorms of the winter. Being from New York, I was super excited about snow and seized the opportunity to venture outdoors and hike across the city—parts of the city at least. I passed by people cross country skiing across Ballard, downhill skiing on the slopes of Queen Anne, and sledding down many of the city’s steep hills. Seattle turned into a winter playground.
Franklin Falls is an easy and enjoyable winter hike with a rewarding waterfall at the end. The trail hugs the Snoqualmie River and takes you through the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest until you reach the 135-feet waterfall. While the road closure in the winter adds a few miles to the hike, the waterfall is even more beautiful in the snow and the trail is less crowded.
With most of the hiking trails in Washington state covered in snow or under avalanche warning, Heybrook Lookout is one of the few trails that is accessible during this time of the year. The trailhead is only an hour outside of Seattle and it’s a short hike with steady elevation gain, making it an easy morning hike that can be done in under two hours. The lookout tower itself is an impressive wooden structure and the top offers rewarding views of the Cascades.
I spent 2 weeks in an A-frame cabin in the woods just an hour and a half outside of Seattle. The cabin is a loft with floor-to-ceiling windows and an indoor wood-burning fireplace, just steps away from a private dock on Emerald Lake. It was so peaceful waking up every morning with a view of the lake and falling asleep at night to the sound of the rain. When the PNW rain lets up, I would take out the kayak and go for a quick paddle around the lake. This is definitely one of the most cozy and unique Airbnbs I’ve stayed in.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I took a day trip east to Gold Creek Pond and Leavenworth. It was a short walk to the pond and we were rewarded with beautiful views of the water with reflections of blue skies and the Snoqualmie mountains. As we continued driving through snow-capped mountains, we reached Leavenworth and basked in early Christmas festivities. Our day was a balance of outdoor adventures and beautiful sceneries mixed with dreamy holiday vibes over mulled wine.
With most of the Seattle hikes already snowed in, I drove along the North Cascades Highway, also known as State Route 20, which traversed through northern Washington along the Skagit River. We saw incredible sceneries along the way as the road navigated past vibrantly blue glacier lakes and split through snow-covered mountains. It was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve done and felt like the epitome of the PNW landscape.
I hiked Mt Pilchuck in the Cascade Mountains a few weeks ago and was delighted by the beauty the PNW has to offer. The hike was wet and snowy towards the top, but once we cleared the tree lines we saw beautiful sweeping views of the Cascades and Mt Baker. There was also a treacherous fire lookout tower at the peak that looked epic and eerie against the thick clouds and snow. Despite me being slightly under prepared for mid-October weather, it was a pleasant and moderately challenging hike with amazing views of the mountains.