Around Seattle you can hike year round on snow free trails. But hiking in the Pacific Northwest during winter months does require a certain tolerance for being outside in the 30s and 40s with the frequent drizzle of rain.
In my earlier blog post, A Sea Level Snow, I mentioned that Seattle is a part of "the lowlands" - a low lying and temperate climate are between the Olympic Range to the west and the Cascade Range to the east. Being a low elevation area, snow is infrequent during the winter months and a plethora of hiking trails are accessible year round. These type trails are great for offseason or early season conditioning and serve as a quick escape from the city for a few hours in nature.
Last year, my first winter in Seattle, I did not do any hiking from January - March. I was new and scared off (or inexperienced) with the cooler temperatures and the threat of rain. But since then I have learned a few things... The rain/drizzle is really light (usually). And NO it does not rain as much as they say. And this Southerner has learned that the low 40s or upper 30s is not cold - with the right layering and when actively moving. The best advice: ignore the weather and just go about your plans! So, this winter I did just that and have made the most of my local, low elevation hiking trails.
For any hiking during the winter months, you will have to leave behind the memories of the summer's wide-open vistas and mountain peaks. But I have found that there is a different kind of beauty in the lush Pacific Northwest forest. While it may not be as dramatic, once you open your eyes to the interesting things along the forested trail you'll see so much beauty (and find plenty of solitude). The typical menu includes: many varieties of trees, ferns, decaying logs/tree trunks, mushrooms, moss, and muddy or lightly snow covered trails (thanks to all the precipitation).
Check out a few of the interesting shots that I captured this winter (January to March 2021) on my local go-to conditioning trails. You will notice some of the shots look hazy - well, that is the light rain through the trees! Now bring on the spring...