Discover the Best of Seattle NorthCountry
Getting outdoors isn’t solely a recreational pursuit these days. Rather, it’s essential for our health and well-being. And right now, choosing where and how to get outdoors takes on even greater importance.
Seattle NorthCountry in Snohomish County is known for world-class and accessible outdoor recreation, located on the ancestral homelands of the Tulalip Tribes, successors in interest to the Snohomish, Snoqualmie and Skykomish tribes, and signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott. Unique geographies, temperate climate and close proximity to both Seattle and the U.S./Canadian border make it a must-see West Coast destination.
The four distinct visitor regions of Seattle NorthCountry start deep in the forests of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
The Skykomish-Snohomish and the Stillaguamish-Sauk River Valleys to the East flow through historically rural downtowns, rich with agriculture and small-town life. The central region of Urban Basecamp, with its boutique air terminal connected by West Coast fly routes, is the area’s hub, offering retail and lodging amenities. Each of these regions converges into the salt water shorelines of the Salish Sea Coastal Communities that span along the West.
By any measure, the experiences found in Seattle NorthCountry are impressive. And for outdoor recreation, the numbers are unmatched in western Washington. In all, the destination is home to 74 miles of coastline, seven Salish Sea beaches on the Puget Sound, 62,000 acres of national forest, 560 miles of trails, 132 summits, 110 park properties, five active volcanoes, 10 major mountains, 44 lakes, 19 rivers and streams, and 38 campgrounds.
Top banner image photo credit: Jake Campbell
Glance through the Seattle NorthCountry Hiking Guide — a free downloadable publication that shows the breadth of the region’s trails. Read up on the Wilderness Pledge and the steadfast principles of Leave No Trace, which are important for the more than 500 miles of trails that range from family-friendly walks to more rugged full-day or overnight backpacking trips. Before or after your trip, deepen your understanding and connection to the heritage of Tulalip, with a visit to the breathtaking Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve…
When considering which activity to enjoy, which season to experience, or which region to explore, getting to know the lay of the land is key. Within Seattle NorthCountry’s nearly 2,000 square miles, it’s important to know which of the four visitor regions to explore and in what order — including the front country areas of the Salish Sea Coastal Communities and Urban Basecamp in the West, and the rural Skykomish and Snohomish River Valleys and the Stillaguamish and Sauk River Valleys leading to the Cascade Range backcountry to the East. Each region offers vastly different experiences, scenery, and even climates which, when combined, serve as the gems in the Seattle NorthCountry crown.
The foothills are home to some of the most interesting trails in the Northwest, and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest presents endless terrain to explore.
Jetty Island, Japanese Gulch, Lord Hill, Tonga Ridge, Mount Dickerman, and Green Mountain are all regional favorites. Hikes can also lead to historical explorations, such as the Mountain Loop Highway trail to the ghost town of Monte Cristo.
Cyclists discover hundreds of miles of winding country roads, perhaps a bit unexpected so close to downtown Seattle. Mountain bikers enjoy some of the best singletrack in the Northwest, including Whitehorse Trail, North Mountain Bike Trail, Gold Mountain, Three Lakes Hill, Japanese Gulch, Lord
Hill Regional Park, Victoria Tract, Blue Mountain Ridge, and Alpine Baldy. Off-trail, rock climbers and boulderers are drawn to hubs like the Index Town Wall or the 1,100-foot face Witch Doctor Wall of Exfoliation Dome.
In winter, the experiences change. Cozy up next to a warm fire in a secluded chalet, or enjoy the more refined comforts of any of a number of the region’s boutique hotels, inns, and resorts. With more than 1,100 acres of skiable terrain, Stevens Pass is one of the largest ski resorts in the Cascades. And the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is home to a vast 119-mile network of cross-country ski trails.
For outdoor lovers, a visit to Seattle NorthCountry is at once accessible, inviting, enjoyable, and fulfilling. Flyfish, whale and birdwatch, paddle, kayak, raft, or scuba dive to transform your point of view. At the day’s end, turn to the Urban Basecamp comforts that restore and reward your senses.
It’s an escape that reconnects us with nature, refuels our senses, and renews our spirits.
And it’s one that we all need right now. With so much uncertainty in today’s world, it’s refreshing to know that at least one thing is certain. Just north of Seattle, where the peaks of the Cascade Range give way to fertile valleys before reaching the waters of the Salish Sea, Seattle NorthCountry is an outdoor lover’s Shangri-la waiting to be discovered
Know before you go:
The 64-page Hiking Guide, which can be viewed and downloaded for free from the Seattle NorthCountry website, is an excellent resource detailing the region’s many trails, offering maps and advice for hikes throughout the region. Other online resources can be helpful, too, including the WTA Trailblazer app, which is offered for free from the Washington Trails Association.
A Northwest Forest Pass is recommended to park for the many trailheads that are set on U.S. Forest Service land. Those passes can be purchased at U.S. Forest Service offices and visitor centers, as well as private businesses throughout the region. Day passes, which cost $5, are available for purchase at most trailheads.
Plan your trip and explore the region at SeattleNorthCountry.com, a one-stop resource for traveling to Seattle NorthCountry.