The skies are clear with a blue backdrop, vibrant wildlife is aroused, and the opulent sun is shining down – summer is here. Capitalizing on the radiant weather, APIs are spending less of their time in the city and more of it indulging in the outdoors.

Taking his passion and directing it online, avid hiker Ben Chao, started a hiking blog and a Facebook group to find friends who share the same interest.

“It was just an opportunity to get friends together to do something that was actually healthy,” explains Chao.

If you’ve gone hiking before or you’re a first-timer, this is a guide for those ready to gallivant in the spectacular trails of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Little Si Trail
Length: 3.5 miles (round trip to ledge). Hiking time: 2-3 hours. Difficulty: Moderate. Distance from Seattle: 32.4 miles (45 minutes – 1 hour). Directions: 12744 444th Ave SE, North Bend, WA 98045

Little brother to Mount Si, Little Si has several walls perfect for rock-climbing; hikers will undoubtedly spot rock-climbers throughout the ascension. Little Si starts off with an immediate climb through a formation of loose gravel and rocks. The middle section levels out a bit through a timberland scenery. Reach upon a bench to mark the ascent of the final hike. As soon as the trail hooks left, the most difficult part of the hike begins with steep incline for a scramble to the top. The end is a rocky ridge with an outstanding view of the North Bend Valley.

Tiger Mountain State Forest: Chirico
Length: 4 miles (round trip). Hiking time: 2-3 hours. Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. Distance from Seattle: 18.8 miles (30 minutes). Directions: 11298 Issaquah Hobart Rd SE, Issaquah, WA 98027

Chirico trail is an advance trail with a gradual climb and very little flat terrain. With tall trees providing shade, the forest is soothing, scenic, and in some areas damp, with a small stream flowing through the woodland. Exposed rocks are present throughout the trail, with the occasional stepping-stones with shaky footholds. Active caution is recommended. The trail is wide enough for two hikers while narrowing numerous times throughout the hike; stopping to allow passing hikers is a very common practice. The south launch viewpoint marks a tranquil grassy resting area with a beautiful view. Continue up for a quarter mile through the trail to reach the top. With an elevation of 1800 ft., Poo Poo Point is the highest point in the mountain with an even more astonishing view than the south launch point. On a good day, you’ll be rewarded with the chance of catching a glimpse of paragliders dismounting off the mountain as they slowly descend to the landing field below.

Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
Length: 4 miles (round trip to ledge). Hiking time: 2-3 hours. Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. Distance from Seattle: 34.2 miles (45 minutes – 1 hour). Directions: 47567 SE 159th St, North Bend, WA 98045

Located just southeast of North Bend, Rattlesnake Mountain is a moderate to difficult hiking experience, depending on how far you wish to traverse the mountain. At the foot of the trail is a ‘Welcome to Rattlesnake Ledge Trail’ information board with key information about the trail, a few prohibition (such as open fires and feeding the wildlife), and reverence for the natural surroundings. Caution: many of the signs are outdated and provide inaccurate distances; look for the newer signs for accurate information. The gravel road trail begins as a gradual climb through a Douglas firs-filled forest. Several lookout points are presented throughout the hike as the trail makes a series of switchbacks. Conclude the hike at the ledge for an amazing view that overlooks the valley with a surreal spectacle of the Snoqualmie Valley, Mount Si, and the lake below. The more advance hikers can resume farther for a more arduous journey.

The 5 essentials to bring on a hike:

  1. Attire: dress in thin layers that can be easily taken off, a weatherproof jacket for any volatile weather, and comfortable footwear with grip and ankle support.
  2. Protection: bring a basic first aid kit, sun block lotion, sunglasses, and a travel blanket for cover or to sit on.
  3. Hydration: multiple bottles of water or liquids and fruits that contain lots of fluids – oranges, grapes, peaches, etc.
  4. Nutrition: a long hike can be exhausting and you will need to replenish with foods high in energy – trail mix, nuts, beef jerky, etc.
  5. Navigation: it is always a good idea to carry a map of the hike as well as a small, portable compass in case you get lost.
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