Sponsored by Washington State Parks
With a busy summer schedule, it might seem hard to escape the city for anything, let alone a serene nature getaway. However, these five Washington State Parks—all conveniently less than an hour drive from Seattle—provide the perfect opportunity for a quick summertime adventure.
Whether you're in the mood for a hike, a swim, a picnic or even a camping trip, pop over to one of these nearby natural spaces where you'll encounter everything from peaceful retreats to rugged excitement to beachy bliss.
1. Squak Mountain State Park
Estimated travel time: 25 minutes
Photo: Jessie Hey via FLICKR
Fear not, city dwellers: Just a 25-minute trek east to Issaquah takes you to a 1,545-acre wilderness wonderland full of creeks, streams, trees and ravines for you to explore. With 13 miles of hiking trails and six miles of horse trails, you can spend hours winding through the forest. If you're lucky, you'll meet some of the area's birds and animals along the way.
2. Saint Edwards State Park
Estimated travel time: 34 minutes
Photo: Peter Stevens via FLICKR
This 316-acre day-use park in Kenmore, Wash., used to be a Catholic seminary, so it's the place to go when you want a peaceful, serene environment with views of the old 1931 seminary building and breathtaking vistas of Lake Washington. Saint Edwards offers opportunities for hiking and biking along its trails, as well as a chance to get close to some of the animals who call the PNW home, such as bald eagles and otters. For the little ones, there's a big wooden playground. Perch at one of its many popular picnic spots for a relaxing lunch and forget the city is only 30 minutes away.
3. Olallie State Park
Estimated travel time: 41 minutes
Photo: Jessie Hey via FLICKR
Olallie, located on western slopes of the Cascade Mountains in North Bend, Wash., is home to two magnificient waterfalls, Weeks Falls and Twin Falls, plus 2,500 acres of cliff formations and old-growth forest and six miles of hiking trails. Expect to immerse yourself in some serious beauty.
4. Dash Point State Park
Estimated travel time: 45 minutes
Photo: Ruth Hartnup via FLICKR
Ready for a beach day? Whether you want to stay for the night or just head south for the afternoon, this 398-acre park boasts more than 3,300 feet of saltwater shoreline, dotted with cabins and campsites. Dip your toes in the water, tan, swim, build sandcastles and explore the day away.
5. Kopachuck State Park
Estimated travel time: 59 minutes
Photo: Christine Rondeau via FLICKR
If you need more beachy fun, consider Gig Harbor's 109-acre marine park with its 5,600 feet of saltwater shoreline and striking views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Here you can hunt for sea shells, frolic in the sand and even catch dinner. (You'll need a recreational license from the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife if you're planning to fish or crab.) Park-goers with boats take note: Cutts Island is a small slip of a park about a half-mile from shore and is only accessible via vessel. Whatever you do, stay until sundown: Kopachuck offers gorgeous views of the sunset.
Looking for more? The following parks are also all less than 60 minutes away from Seattle:
Bridle Trails State Park (19 minutes), Lake Sammamish State Park (20 minutes; note: there is construction happening on the beach at this park now through fall 2016), Saltwater State Park (30 minutes), Iron Horse State Park Trail (44 minutes), Kanaskat-Palmer State Park (57 minues) and Nolte State Park (59 minutes).
To learn more about Washington State Parks or to plan your trip, visit its website.