Since moving to Western Washington 3 years ago, I have come to appreciate something called "Mid-Winter Break." We lived in Utah, Arizona, Alabama and Iowa before here, and this beautiful reprieve from school didn't exist in any of those other places (to my knowledge). We had Winter Break, Spring Break, and in some cases, Fall Break, but never Mid-Winter Break.
I feel Mid-Winter Break is everything its name implies--a break from the middle of Winter. In a state that gets 55 more days of precipitation than the national average (most of it falling between October and April), this break is a good excuse to get outside and appreciate the beauty that is so abundant here--even during the rainy months!
I have compiled TEN tried and true hikes that are typically accessible in the Winter and early Spring months. We have explored each of these areas--many multiple times. I will share our experience with these trails, pictures from the area, and links to more info. With all of these hikes, an excellent resource is WTA.ORG. I recommend checking WTA for recent trip reports before heading out on any day hike to insure the trail conditions are safe and passable.
I have also broken my list down into 4 general areas: Tiger Mountain, I-90/Snoqualmie, Mount Rainier--Carbon River Entrance, and Black Diamond/Enumclaw.
View from West Tiger Summit
This trail head is marked and begins from the Department of Natural Resources parking lot (Discovery Pass required). Many other trails begin near by, so pay attention to the signage. It begins gradually but quickly begins climbing. The majority of the trail is an old logging road bed, so it is nice and wide (great for kids), and proceeds with long switchbacks. It doesn't let up on it's ascent until about the last 1/4 of the trail where it soon intersects with the Cable Line trail (you may see hikers to your right going straight up just before the two trails merge).
About halfway up you start to get nice views of Issaquah and beyond. I have seen gorgeous sunsets on semi-clear days, sometimes more expansive than the summit views, which are limited unless it is a super-clear day.
We LOVE this hike. It is a favorite winter run for me and my husband. We did it when it was snowy at the top in January. Although you gain a good bit of elevation, it is never crazy steep so our trail-running shoes were plenty of traction. During a cold-snap (the rare days when freezing temps persist in day-light hours) the upper sections can be icy, so refer to recent trip reports if those conditions exist.