One of my go-to hikes when I want to get out of the city and enjoy the outdoors is the Rattlesnake Ledge trail – also sometimes called Rattlesnake Ridge.
Though it’s popular, the Rattlesnake Ledge trail is a really nice, easy getaway. It’s less than an hour of driving from Seattle, and is close to the little town of North Bend. It’s also open year round, and makes for a great hike in the winter when some of the higher elevation trails are snowed in!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about hiking the Rattlesnake Ledge trail – what to expect, what to bring, and more.
Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because I was going to share anyway, and this helps me keep making free guides for you!
Pin this photo to reference this Rattlesnake Ledge trail hiking guide later!
About the Rattlesnake Ledge Hiking Trail
Before we begin the Rattlesnake Ledge hike, here are some things to know about the trail!
Rattlesnake Ledge Trail: At a Glance
Length: 5.3 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,459 feet
The Best Time to Hike the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
Summer is the most popular time to hike Rattlesnake Ledge, but I think fall is the best time for this one!
The Rattlesnake Ledge trail is well maintained and not too difficult, and its proximity to Seattle makes it very crowded on warm summer days. It’s popular for beginner hikers and experienced ones too! Even at sunrise, you’re likely to run into some people if you hike in the summer months. I recommend hiking in the fall – you’ll see way fewer people around. Rattlesnake Ledge at sunrise is incredible, so if you want to hike early in the morning (or catch the sunset), be sure to bring a headlamp.
The trail is great throughout the year, though there is an occasional dusting of snow in the winter, so you can do this one pretty much any time of year, and it’s a nice getaway when the rest of the hikes are too cold and snowy!
Leave No Trace at Rattlesnake Ledge
Because it’s so popular, unfortunately, that means Leave No Trace (LNT) is often forgotten. Most people mean well, but not being aware of our impact on the environment leads to closed trails and damaged ecosystems.
Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply on the Rattlesnake Ledge trail!
- Plan ahead and prepare – read this guide, check recent trail conditions, and be ready for muddy conditions if it’s rained.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces – stay on the trail, stay off the cliff edges, and avoid trampling the plants!
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash of any kind behind. Pack it out! There is a trash can at the trailhead.
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a rock or a cool leaf, but leave these things where they belong!
- Minimize campfire impacts – fires are not allowed at Rattlesnake Ledge.
- Respect wildlife – a lot of people feed the birds at the top of Rattlesnake Ledge, but this is really bad for them! First, it can hurt their little tummies. Second, it teaches them to rely on humans for food, so a lot of these birds die in the winter or are unable to find food themselves.
- Be considerate of other visitors – the trail is narrow in spots. Yield to uphill hikers, and be respectful – no speakers or loud music.
Things to Bring to Hike the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
To help you pack for your hike at Rattlesnake Ledge, here are some things to bring with you!
In the summer, I really like hiking in my Chaco sandals. They’re more comfortable than boots (to me), and give my toes some freedom. The Rattlesnake Ledge trail is well maintained and pretty easy, so as long as you watch your step you should be okay.
If it’s rained recently, I would recommend hiking boots – the trail can get muddy. My favorite hiking boots are my Danner boots – they’re cute, comfortable, and waterproof!
If you don’t hike very often, it’s totally okay to hike this one in sneakers! Waterproof ones are ideal for hiking in Washington, because trails are often muddy and rain can happen at basically any moment. These Lowa Maddox shoes are great for hiking and comfy for everyday wear, and are waterproof!
Bonus Tip: A lot of these links are for my favorite place to buy outdoor gear – Backcountry. If you install the free Lolli extension on your browser, you can earn free Bitcoin when you shop online at certain retailers, including Backcountry.
Rain Jacket or Windbreaker
Washington’s weather can be moody – so it’s good to be prepared with rain gear! Once you get to the top, it’ll be a lot more exposed, and it gets cold fast once you aren’t hiking uphill. I definitely recommend wearing layers for this hike!
The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is a great lightweight, waterproof option for hiking in the rain. For windbreakers, the RVCA Meyer Packable Anorack Jacket is cute, and folds up nice and small! For added warmth and layering, add a a Patagonia fleece.
You need somewhere to put your snacks! And your hiking gear, of course.
When I’m bringing my camera gear, my favorite backpack is the Alex Strohl Mountain Light. It’s definitely the best camera bag out there for hiking with photo gear. If you don’t need storage for camera stuff, I recommend an Osprey Hikelite.
The Rattlesnake Ledge trail isn’t too strenuous, so you can definitely do this one with a simple day bag – no fancy gear required! If you don’t plan to pack very much for your hike, I love my Topo Designs Y-Pack for day hikes.
Especially when you’re hiking or exploring outdoors, it’s important to stay hydrated! Single use water bottles are, of course, terrible for the environment, so avoid that and bring a reusable one!
For hiking, the CamelBak water reservoirs are convenient and easy – they can fit in your hiking backpack for water on the go. Nalgene water bottles are great for day to day, and if you want an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold and refreshing, Hydro Flasks are the best!
Where to Stay When You Hike the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
Though this hike is great for a day trip, you can also turn it into a little getaway! There are plenty of places to stay nearby – from free camping to cute cabins.
An Adorable Cabin
For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts, cabins, glamping sites, and more. There are several cute cabins to stay in near Oswald West Park, adding a fun experience to your trip, and a great place to relax after a hike!
You can even get $10 off your first booking here!
A Camper van
Find a Campsite
Rattlesnake Ledge Parking
The parking lot for the Rattlesnake Ledge hike is big and easy to find. Your GPS will take you right to it. On a busy day, the parking lot gets full – so I recommend hiking early in the morning or later in the evening if you’re going to Rattlesnake Ledge in the summer.
There is a gate at the Rattlesnake Ledge parking lot that closes shortly after the sun goes down – this changes depending on the season, but there’s a sign at the entrance that will tell you the exact time. Make sure you’re out before the gate closes!
While you’re here for your hike, I recommend making a quick stop at Rattlesnake Lake! The lake is gorgeous, and in the summer you can bring a paddle board with you and hop in. In the fall and winter, the lake dries a little, exposing the old stumps around the lake. To get here, go left from the parking lot and you’ll see the lake!
Rattlesnake Ledge Trailhead
Once you’ve parked, you’ll need to walk to the Rattlesnake Ledge trailhead. From the parking lot, head towards the right. You’ll see a sign pointing to the trail, which begins the wide path. This isn’t technically the trailhead – you’ll walk for a little bit before getting to the bathrooms, and there’s the Rattlesnake Ledge Trailhead! There’s another sign that points up the mountain, and this is where the hike officially begins.
Hiking the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
Once you start the ascent from the Rattlesnake Ledge trailhead, the hike takes you through the lush woods. You’ll walk through old growth forest, greenery, and Jurassic Park-esque ferns. There are some big boulders that you can climb if you’re up for it, and the trail starts out with an easy but steady elevation gain.
The hike is a little less than two miles long, and soon it’ll get a little steeper as you continue on the switchbacks. This is a great trail for beginner hikers, because it provides a bit of a challenge without being too long or too technical!
As you ascend, you’ll cross a few wooden bridges, and you’ll hear the sound of rushing water. There’s a tiny detour to the watershed, where you can see the little waterfall running down the mountain – this is a good place to catch your breath!
Continue up, and soon you’ll come to a junction – go right, and you’ll be at the Rattlesnake Ledge overlook! You can also go left to extend your hike up Rattlesnake Mountain.
Be careful on the rocks – but at the overlook, you’ll end up standing on a cliff, overlooking the valley below and the mountains in the distance! You can also see Rattlesnake Lake.
More Adventures Near Rattlesnake Ledge
Have you hiked the Rattlesnake Ledge trail, or have any tips or hike recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!
Here are some more adventures to check out in Washington:
Pin any of these photos to reference this Rattlesnake Lake trail hiking guide later!