Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Photos provided by Washington Trails Association

5 Northwest hikes for train enthusiasts

Choo! Choose one of these hikes to see trains, tracks and tunnels

If you have a train enthusiast in the family then you don’t want to miss out on these hikes around the Seattle area, perfect for train-spotting and exploring old railways. Watch trains while discovering marine life in a tide pool, turn on your headlamp for a trek through a train tunnel and so much more. Don your conductor’s cap, it’s time to find a caboose.

This newly renovated park is a great place for your train hike around the Seattle area.

Meadowdale Beach Park

Recently renovated and reopened, Meadowdale Beach Park is a beautiful train hike year-round. Escape to the beach via a lush, forested trail complete with a babbling stream (home to many species of salmon and trout). A mile in pass a ranger station and new footbridge (keep an eye out for those fish!). Round the bend and meet stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and to the delight of train lovers, active elevated railroad tracks that you’ll pass under. Until recently, there has always been a tunnel here allowing beach access to both pedestrians and water. Over the last few years, Snohomish County has replaced this tunnel with a spacious pedestrian walkway and made significant changes in hopes of improving the habitat for salmon and trout. Once at the beach, spend some time relaxing and taking in the beautiful views. Keep your eyes peeled for sea glass and other treasures while you are waiting for the trains to pass.

Tip: At the very beginning of the trail there is a very steep descent into the gulch. Keep in mind for when you are heading back and save a little energy for this steep climb up.

Driving time from Seattle: 35 min
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Length: 2.5 miles, roundtrip

Sequalitchew Creek Trail

An unexpected, hidden gem in the middle of DuPont, the Sequalitchew Creek Trail has a little bit of something for everyone. This relatively flat and forested trail offers a quick escape from urban life into the forest. The trail will lead you through a forested canyon for about a mile and a half and is bursting with wildlife. The park boasts an abandoned train tunnel and tracks that end at a beautiful pebbly beach. Explore the rocks, find sea glass, and then hike back along the train track, imagining what compartments when the train was working.

Tip: Parking is located at City Hall

Driving time from Seattle: 56 min
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.0 miles, roundtrip

Carkeek Park

If your train lover is hoping to see a locomotive up close and personal, Carkeek Park is the place to go! An easy train hike in Seattle with parking conveniently located by the beach and the pedestrian bridge, it’s easy to be close to the plethora of activities at this park. To pass the time while you are waiting for a train, stop in the newly built Visitor’s Center and ask the Rangers about their favorite hikes. Explore the forested trails, get some sun at the beach, play on the playground (famous for its salmon-shaped slide), or picnic in one of the many areas at this park. Hear the train coming? Make your way to the many-stepped footbridge to see the fleet of compartments pass by.

Driving time from Seattle: Located in NW Seattle
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Length: 3.5 miles, roundtrip

Tip: Want to visit beach and skip the hike? Find parking near the footbridge for direct beach access


Palouse to Cascades Trail – The Snoqualmie Tunnel

It’s not often that you can say you hiked through an old train tunnel that is more than 2 miles long. The Snoqualmie Tunnel is part of the 250-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail (formerly the John Wayne Trail and Iron Horse State Park) and was used as a part of the railroad system until abandoned in 1980. A unique train hike in the Seattle area, it’s dark and cold in the tunnel so pack headlamps, flashlights and extra batteries for this one. Wear or carry your jacket too! Even in the heat of summer, the tunnel will be chilly. Watch for bikers, scooters, and other pedestrians in this dark tunnel.

Driving time from Seattle: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Length: 5.3 miles, roundtrip

Iron Goat Trail

Train lovers, history buffs and thrill seekers will enjoy the famous Iron Goat Trail. Boasting old tunnels, abandoned tracks, cement snow sheds and a big red caboose: there are plenty of things to discover. The hike will take you along the old Great Northern Railroad grade, built in 1893, which once started trains on their journey up the Cascade Mountains. The old railroad was abandoned in 1929 in favor of the current Cascade tunnel, after one of the worst railroad disasters in US history. The trail is now famously known for being haunted by some, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Tip: Pause to read the interpretive trail signs by the tunnels, but know that they are not safe to enter.

Driving time from Seattle: 1 hr 30 min
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.0 miles roundtrip

Read more:

Hikes perfect for toddlers

Guide to kid-friendly hiking in the North Cascades

Hike any season at Ollalie State Park


About the Author

Jessi Johnson

Jessi Johnson is a Registered Nurse turned homeschool mom of two and calls Snohomish home. She can usually be found hiking, camping or planning her family’s next adventure.