Two hikers stand on the top of silver peak looking at mt rainier during sunset

Trail Guide for hiking Silver Peak in Washington

My buddy and I had planned a different hike but switched to the Silver Peak trail at the last minute due to its relatively close proximity to Seattle. At only 80 minutes, getting up here was a breeze, and the rewards were magnificent! 

If you’re looking for a fantastic hike with even better views of Mt. Rainier, the Enchantments, and more, you’ll love the Silver Peak hike! 

Hiking Guide: Explore Washington’s Silver Peak

Silver Peak Hiking Stats

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2000
  • Estimated time on the trail: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Looking at mt rainier with some blurred flowers on the edges.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Where is Silver Peak Located?

Silver Peak is on the southern side of I-90 among the Snoqualmie Pass peaks. While you pass the physical mountain going east, the route makes you double back after exiting the highway and driving on a dirt road. It’s located in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

Getting to Silver Peak

I figure most are coming from Seattle, so you’ll want to drive east on the I-90 for around an hour. From here, you’ll get off at exit 54 and continue driving on Hyak Dr. It’ll turn into a standard dirt road before becoming a little more bumpy and rocky towards the end. 

While a standard car could probably make it in dry conditions, a higher clearance vehicle might make you feel better. 

The parking area should be around 5.5 miles from the highway exit to the trailhead. 

a drone view of silver peak with mt. rainier in the background
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Where to park for the Silver Peak Hike

There’s no official parking lot for the Silver Peak Trail. You’ll want to find a spot on the side of the dirt road. The last 50 yards to the trailhead is very rocky, and we ended up parking just below the trailhead. 

There was a little more room to park at the trailhead, but only two other cars were in the area, so it wasn’t like we had competition. We saw a truck up there, and it seemed to do fine. If you’ve got a good rig, you’ll be golden. 

The trailhead will be on your left (south side) as you walk up. It’s the only trail in the area, and it’s also the PCT. However, I would download the hike to ensure you’re in the correct location. 

Silver Peak Hike Difficulty

I didn’t find the hike to be too challenging. The first half is on the PCT, which is in excellent condition. It’s a steady (but not hard) incline before you find your right turn onto the side trail towards the. Summit. 

Once you leave the PCT, it does get more challenging and steeper, but that’s primarily due to not being on a nicely maintained trail. 

Overall, there is about 2,000 feet of gain on the hike. Thankfully, it’s spread out evenly outside the final third of a mile below the summit. 

a hiker on the silver peak trail going up to the summit
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

How Long is the Silver Peak Trail?

The Silver Peak Trail is just under six miles round trip from the trailhead. Around half is on the PCT, with the other half on the summit approach trail. I would say the entire trail should take you about four hours – depending on how long you spend at the top. 

For some, you could get to the top in 75 minutes. 

When is the best time to hike?

The best time to hit the Silver Peak Trail is summer and fall. The trail and road will be snow-free, with excellent weather, long days, and stunning views from the top. 

During the summer months, because it’s a quick drive from Seattle, many people could get off work around 4-5 and make this an awesome sunset hike. You’d need a headlamp coming down, but you could leave the summit and be home 2.5 hours later.  

What pass do I need to hike Silver Peak?

This hike is on National Forest land, so you’ll want the America the Beautiful Pass or the Northwest Forest Pass. But odds are, no one will be checking you up there. 

gorgeous peaks of the washington cascades at sunset
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Hiking up to Silver Peak with a View of Rainier

Start trekking on the PCT

Whenever you hike on the PCT, I consider it a pretty cool moment. It’s the most famous trail in the western US, with lots of history. Furthermore, you know it’ll be in good condition, with thousands hiking it yearly. 

And it was in great shape. The trail is mostly flat for the first quarter mile before it begins gingerly ascending. At the 1.3-mile mark, you’ll drop down in elevation with a series of switchbacks before going back up. 

But none of it should be troublesome. 

Head up a side trail to the Silver Peak Summit

At the 1.7-mile mark, you’ll veer right onto a side trail leading to the top of Silver Peak. From this point, you’ll gain 1,300 of your 2,000 feet of gain – so it is steeper. 

The trail is not nearly as well maintained and has a lot of unnatural steps to take as you clamor over rocks. But, again, nothing too tricky. 

A single hiker walks on the trail towards the summit near the top of the photo. He's surrounded by trees.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

You can see your endpoint and the trail up as you get out of the gully and onto the ridgeline below the summit. I remember at the two-mile mark, it’ll flatten out for a second to give your legs a chance to break. 

Now, the fun begins!

Final Push to Silver Peak

The trail starts to zig-zag up to the summit, with the dirt being loose as you start. (It does improve.) I can’t remember exactly where, but we found some lovely wildflowers with Mt. Rainier views about a third of the way up. 

My buddy and I stopped for a second to take some photos as it was gorgeous.

After the brief break, we pressed on, continuing to weave our way up through the semi-rocky terrain to the top. I didn’t find this problematic or sketchy, but I could understand how some people may feel 100% comfortable. 

Mount rainier with flowers in the lower portion of the photo
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

You can’t fall off the side when on the trail, so your injury risk is very low. 

Once at the top, the views blew us away. The views from Silver Peak were magnificent, and I kept spinning around, soaking in all the wild views. 

Then, as the sun began to dip, our sunset popped off. The sky erupted into the most amazing colors, ranking as one of the best sunsets I’ve ever photographed. Better yet, we were the only ones up there to see it! 

As night enveloped us, we headed down with our headlamps guiding us. The longest part was navigating the off-trail section in the trees. But once we got back on the PCT, we cruised down it. 

Twenty-five minutes later, we were at the car, unloading packs and getting some food! It was an epic ascent of Silver Peak and one we’ll never forget! 

two hikers stand on the top of silver peak near snoqualmie pass
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
a single hiker looks out at the last bit of sunset
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
mount rainier with stunning sunset colors from the top of the silver peak hike
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

What gear should I bring?

This is a pretty standard hike, so you just need day hiking material. 

Photos from Silver Peak

FAQ: Hiking Washington’s Silver Peak Trail 

Is there cell service at the top?

Yes, you should have cell service at the top. As the crow flies, you’re not too far from Snoqualmie Pass or the I-90 highway. 

Are there bathroom facilities anywhere?

There are no bathroom facilities at the trailhead or on the trail. Do your business before coming, or plan to find a tree or bush while hiking. 

Can you fly a drone at Silver Peak?

Yes, you can fly a drone from Silver Peak. You’re in the national forest, which allows drone flights. Please be respectful when flying it, especially if others are on the top with you. 

Can you sleep at the top?

Sleeping at the top, while physically possible, is not recommended. There’s not a good flat area to pitch a tent, and it can be extremely windy up top. I think you could make it happen if you’re considering using a bivvy or cowboy camping. 

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Is there water on the trail? 

I’ve been thinking about this and cannot remember having any drainages or water crossings on the hike. I did the Silver Peak hike in August, and it was a bit drier then. If you hike this earlier in the year, you could have some leftover snow melt in places where the water pools. 

Are dogs allowed on the trail? 

Yes, dogs are allowed on the Silver Peak Trail. Make sure to pick up after them and bring enough water and snacks for them to enjoy the hike. The middle part can be tight and the final bit rocky, so keep that in mind as you ascend. 

Are there bears?

I’m sure there are some bears in the area, but this trail on the PCT is pretty popular, which can scare away bears. There’s no need to bear spray. 

What is the elevation of Silver Peak?

Silver Peak tops out at 5,496 feet. It has incredible views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, with a clear view of Mount Rainer to the south. 

a close up of mount rainier from silver peak trail during sunset
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Final thoughts on the Silver Peak Hike

If you’re looking for a kick-ass hike near Seattle that doesn’t require a ton of legwork, the Silver Peak trail is your hike. You’ll get incredible views, relatively small crowds, and a chance to summit a peak. 

There are a lot of great peaks in the area, but I think this one gives you the best views without crushing your soul. Snoqualmie Mountain, on the other side of the highway, gets you 500 feet higher, but that is a hard, hard hike. (I was so tired going up it.)

This is a perfect one for people who just want a casual hike without feeling it afterward.

I wish you the best and happy trails!

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Bio:

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside