The Old Mount Si Trail - A Better Way to Hike the Most Popular Seattle Peak

Here’s a better way to hike Mt Si, the most popular Seattle peak: use the Old Trail! It is rougher and more challenging, but you get to the same spot - with hardly any crowds along the way.

Why is the old trail better?

Both the new and the old trail zig-zag in the trees for the entire 3.7 miles until the very top, where views open up. There's nothing you can do about that, it is what it is. 

The problem with the regular trail is the crowds. Sometimes it's so packed, especially on weekends and summer months, and if you're after a little solitude, thew new trail is not for you. NWHikers forum user Angry Hiker illustrated this problem in a funny post here.

Choosing to hike the Old Trail solves this issue. You hardly see any hikers there, even during weekends.

Why is Mount Si the most popular hike around Seattle?

For the casual hiker it's because it is relatively close to the city, it's not too long, not too steep, and, once you reach the top, you get outstanding views of the peaks around you, including Mount Rainier, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River below, and in the distance, the city of Seattle, Bellevue and the Olympic Mountains.

 View from the top of Mount Si: The Olympic Mountain Range, and the cities of Seattle and Bellevue in the distance

View from the top of Mount Si: The Olympic Mountain Range, and the cities of Seattle and Bellevue in the distance

 View from the top of Mount Si: Snoqualmie River, North Bend and the valley below

View from the top of Mount Si: Snoqualmie River, North Bend and the valley below

 View from the top of Mount Si: Mailbox Peak (left), Mount Washington (right) and the rest of the I90 peaks

View from the top of Mount Si: Mailbox Peak (left), Mount Washington (right) and the rest of the I90 peaks

A classic training hike for climbing Mount Rainier

For the experienced folks, Mount Si is a standard training route for bigger mountains like Mt. Rainier, Denali and even the Himalayas. During winter and spring months, you will often see folks wearing big boots and carrying huge packs. They're most likely training for something bigger

Hike it yourself in under 2 hours with a 40 lb. pack and you're in good shape, according to common wisdom.

 View from the top of Mount Si: Majestic Mount Rainier with Little Tahoma at its side (smaller notch to the left)

View from the top of Mount Si: Majestic Mount Rainier with Little Tahoma at its side (smaller notch to the left)

Mount Si during the winter

This hike is so popular also because you can do it year round, with no risk of avalanches and less snow cover than other higher peaks in the area - the top is relatively low at 3900'.

 View from Mount Si in the winter: Looking east towards Mailbox Peak

View from Mount Si in the winter: Looking east towards Mailbox Peak

 The famous Mount Si Haystack, a popular summer extension for folks without fear of heights (also dangerous in non-ideal conditions)

The famous Mount Si Haystack, a popular summer extension for folks without fear of heights (also dangerous in non-ideal conditions)

 Mount Si during the winter

Mount Si during the winter

Enjoy a classic Pacific Northwest trail

The Mount Si trail, both Old and New, take you mostly though a classic Pacific Northwest forest. It's true, there are no views, but this is an experience in and of itself. Pictures speak a thousand words, here are some images:

 Mount Si: Enjoy a true Pacific Northwest experience

Mount Si: Enjoy a true Pacific Northwest experience

 Mount Si Old Trail: Blankets of moss everywhere

Mount Si Old Trail: Blankets of moss everywhere

 Mount Si: Early morning rays piercing through the trees

Mount Si: Early morning rays piercing through the trees

 Mt Si Trail: trees from down below

Mt Si Trail: trees from down below

Meet the Mount Si inhabitants

Last but not least, meet the Mt. Si resident birds. They'll be following your last steps and stick around you for food.

 Mount Si resident, too much accustomed with the hiker

Mount Si resident, too much accustomed with the hiker

 She is my friend, and she is free

She is my friend, and she is free

Thanks for reading and enjoy your hike!


Mount Si Old Trail

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Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 3150' gain, 3900' high point


Permit: Discovery Pass
Trailhead: 47.486708647.4880, -121.7580548
Map: Green Trails Mount Si NRCA 206S,
 Old Mount Si Trail: start at the Little Si parking lot, follow the Little Si Trail until you hit the Boulder Garden loop's north entry (second junction), then go straight up until you meet the new trail at 3700' - see waypoints on map for details

Old Mount Si Trail: start at the Little Si parking lot, follow the Little Si Trail until you hit the Boulder Garden loop's north entry (second junction), then go straight up until you meet the new trail at 3700' - see waypoints on map for details