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16 Hikes For Close-to-Town Vistas

Get high and get a good view close to town. Now add sparkles.

Hiking is often associated with vistas of distant mountain ranges or river valleys in natural settings, but getting a bird's-eye view of your town or city can be just as interesting. In fact, you don't have to hike your nearest rugged peak to enjoy nature and the beautiful landscapes that trails allow us to explore. Many local parks offer impressive vistas to enjoy while letting you stay close to home. These are great trails for when you're short on time, or don't want to travel far to enjoy an incredible view.

The following hikes sit high above cityscapes and allow visitors to take in their town in a new way. And when the 4th of July comes around, these places also make great spots to view a municipal fireworks show. Remember, we're suggesting these locations for views of fireworks shows, not as somewhere to set fireworks off. Fireworks are illegal on public land because they pose a real threat of starting wildfires, and they disturb wildlife.

Finally, many city parks close after dusk, and some locations are longer hikes, so be sure to plan for getting back to your car before the park closes. 

Find even more hikes with our Urban Cure series of hikes 30 minutes from Washington's biggest cities


Central Washington

Badger Mountain - Sagebrush Trail

Location: Tri-Cities
Mileage: 1.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Badger Trail along dry grassy hills with a view to a distant town in the valley. Photo by Luffles.
Badger Trail along dry grassy hills with a view to a distant town in the valley. Photo by Luffles.

The Badger Mountain – Sagebrush Trail offers expansive views of the Tri-Cities and the area around it. You can visit at any hour, and see the city change throughout the day, with the streetlights punctuating the darkness at night.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Candy Point Trail

Location: Grand Coulee
Mileage: 1.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 700 feet

Candy Point Trail. Photo by Geoff Winslow.jpeg
View of Grand Coulee Dam from the Candy Point Trail. Photo by trip reporter Geoff Winslow.

This hike leads not to a view of a town, but rather an engineering marvel. The Candy Point Trail is short and steep, wasting no time getting to a high view point that overlooks the dam and small town that spreads out from its base. This trail gives a unique perspective on this monolith, and it's not a bad place to watch the annual fireworks show at the dam. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide 


Olympic Peninsula

Priest Point Park

Location: Olympia
Mileage: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 150 feet

Priest Point Park. Photo by Bob and Barb.jpeg
View of the Puget Sounds through a patch of madronas. Photo by trip reporters Bob and Barb.

This park sits on the shores of Puget Sound, just north of downtown Olympia. Trails lead through the forested sections of the park and end at the beach where you can enjoy views of downtown Olympia as well as the Olympic Mountains. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide 


Fort Worden State Park - Point Wilson

Location: Hood Canal
Mileage: 2.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal 

Fort Worden State Park. Photo by ejain.jpeg
The historic lighthouse and surrounding buildings at Point Wilson. Photo by trip reporter.

The views from Point Wilson at Fort Worden State Park are spectacular. Mount Baker, Vancouver and the San Juan Islands, as well as the Cascades can be spotted from the sandy beaches of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Check out the campsites if you want to stay the night.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


OLYMPIC DISCOVERY TRAIL

Location: Northern Coast
Mileage: 126.6 miles (complete mileage; though there are multiple access points and options)
Elevation Gain: minimal 

Olympic Discovery Trail. Photo by SeaAnita.jpeg
A stretch of the Olympic Discovery Trail running right along the water. Photo by trip reporter SeaAnita.

The Olympic Discovery Trail spans much of the northern Peninsula, so there is access all along Highway 101. But one good spot to see the town of Port Angeles is from Angeles Harbor, which has interpretive signs and is wheelchair accessible. Enjoy some natural beauty further out on the trail and then return to this more urban setting.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Puget Sound and Islands

Magnuson Park

Location: Seattle-Tacoma Area
Mileage: 3.0 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: minimal

Magnuson Park. Photo by jeo2hiker.jpeg
Fall colors at Magnuson Park. Photo by jeo2hiker.

See part of a wetland reconstruction project from the trails at Magnuson Park. This popular park also includes an art installation made of old submarine fins and a Sound Garden that uses the wind and twelve steel towers to create different sounds. As it gets dark, settle in by the water to see the lights of Kirkland shimmer over Lake Washington.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Mill Town Trail

Location: Seattle-Tacoma Area
Mileage: 6.8 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain: 85 feet

Mill Town Trail. Photo by Must Hike Must Eat.jpegTake the Mill Town Trail for an urban adventure before the fireworks show. Photo by trip reporter musthikemusteat.

Starting at Port Everett, this urban loop will lead you along the water, through city streets and around the historically significant Mill Town, for which the trail is named. Stop by one of the two viewing areas of Port Gardner Bay for the best scenery.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


SOUTH BAY TRAIL

Location: Bellingham Area
Mileage: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 20 feet

Pier stretching into bellingham Bay at sunset along the South Bay Trail. Photo by brittanywanderlust.
Pier stretching into bellingham Bay at sunset along the South Bay Trail. Photo by brittanywanderlust.

Take a walk along the shore of Bellingham Bay on the South Bay Trail. This gentle trail, built up over the abandoned Bellingham & Skagit Interurban Railway grade offers broad views of the water and islands. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Semiahmoo Spit

Location: Bellingham Area
Mileage: 1.6 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal

Semiahmoo Spit. Photo bt raring2hike.jpegTake a walk on the Semiahmoo Spit trail then find a spot on the beach to watch the fireworks over the Semiahmoo Bay. Photo by trip reporter raring2hike.

The short and sweet Semiahmoo Spit trail is a delight for animal lovers. See shorebirds and marine life as you walk along the harbor and beach. Though Semiahmoo Park and its amenities close at sundown, the beach stays open after dark. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Chybinski Loop 

Location: Issaquah Alps — Cougar/Squak
Mileage: 7.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2100 feet

A wooden trail sign that says, "Debbie's View"
A hike on the Chybinski Loop is not complete without a trip to Debbie's View. Photo by Bob Zimmerman. 

Even though this loop hike is close to the metropolitan core of Seattle and Bellevue, you can get some big miles here. Explore this trail network on the Cougar/Squak corridor and enjoy lush ravines and forested mountaintops. Be sure to take the side trip to Debbie's View to enjoy a refurbished trail courtesy of WTA volunteers. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Eastern Washington

Dishman Hills Conservation Area - Glenrose

Location: Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
Mileage: 5.48 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,575 feet

Dishman Hills Conservation Area-Glenrose Unit-11.3.2018-TrailKat.jpeg
Take in the Spokane fireworks from above at the Dishman Hills Conservation Area – Glenrose. Photo by TrailKat.

Get a dose of nature without wandering too far from the city at the Dishman Hills Conservation Area – Glenrose. The trail lead you to grand views over the city. As it gets dark, watch the glimmering city lights while surrounded by natural splendor.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Antoine Peak Conservation Area

Location: Spokane Area/Coeur d'Alene
Mileage: 9.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 732 feet

Antoine Peak Conservation Area-5.21.2017-Daniel Y.jpeg
The Antoine Peak Conservation Area will give you glowing views of the city lights in the Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake as well as sparks of colorful fireworks from afar. Photo by Daniel Y.

Look for wildlife and lingering spring wildflowers as you make your way to the top of Antoine Peak. From the summit, you can see the city lights and surrounding mountains.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Central Cascades

Lake Chelan State Park - Little Bear Trail

Location: Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan
Mileage: 2.3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 250 feet

Lake Chelan State Park. Photo by wagnerdusty76.jpeg
Views across Lake Chelan from the LIttle Bear Trail. Photo bytrip reporter wagnerdusty76.

Read interpretive signs and breathe in the scent of ponderosa pines on the Little Bear Trail at Lake Chelan State Park. From the trail get expansive views of the lake and the town that populates its distant shore. Lake Chelan State Park has over 100 campsites if you would like to stay even longer.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Icicle Ridge Lookout

Location: Leavenworth Area
Mileage: 11.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4,700 feet

Icicle Ridge. Photo by Taisa.jpeg
Views of Leavenworth in the valley from the climb to Icicle Ridge. Photo by trip reporter Taisa.

Summer is a great time to hike up to the Icicle Ridge Lookout. See sweeping views of Leavenworth and the mountains behind. Keep a lookout for any lingering spring wildflowers as well.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


South Cascades

Kelly Butte

Location: Mount Rainier Area — Chinook Pass - Hwy 410
Mileage: 3.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet

Kelly Butte-6.6.2018-MK4R34.jpeg
Kelly Butte offers breathtaking views of both the fireworks and surrounding natural area. Photo by MK4R34.

Those who take the steep climb up to Kelly Butte are rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, forests and even Mount Rainier on a clear day. The lookout is used as a fire lookout, so lease be respectful of staff staying there.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Silver Star Mountain

Location: Lewis River Region
Mileage: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

A view of distant peaks at dusk from Silver Star Mountain. Photo by Solohiker35.
A view of distant peaks at dusk from Silver Star Mountain. Photo by Solohiker35.

This mountain is one of the best viewpoints in southwest Washington and the views start right off the bat. It is a challenging route, including the drive to the trailhead on a very rough road, but you'll get a great workout and enjoy the vistas even more because of it. 

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide