Hiking Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Ledge is a very popular trail due to the location (less than an hour from Seattle), views, and the ability to modify the difficulty of the hike based on which trail one decides to go on. This trail can also get very clogged and full of people on sunny weekend mornings, so plan accordingly.
We decided to head out early on a Monday, and left the Seattle area just after 7am. We also made a pit stop in North Bend, just minutes from the trailhead, to grab some snacks to pack for our hike. We made it to the parking lot and it was fairly empty, and started the hike by 8:30am.
Kind hikers left branches they used as walking sticks, and my friend and I decided to grab one (there were two conveniently fit to our varying heights propped against the trail sign - how could we resist?), although I admittedly only grabbed mine to just play with and swing about as we hiked. The trail starts off slow, with gradual inclines and switchbacks but nothing too strenuous. The trail is also clearly marked so there's no potential for confusion or getting lost.
You gain elevation very quickly, and you can occasionally catch glimpses of Rattlesnake Lake down below quickly getting smaller as you go higher and higher. A little over a mile in, the incline gets much steeper and the tree cover thickens. This is where the walking stick went from a toy to an actual support mechanism, and I found myself glad to have something to keep me paced and balanced.
The steepness of the trail is not difficult, but it is significantly steeper than the first half of the hike and may force you to stop and take a breather if you don't pace yourself well. Just remember, when you get to this point that means you are almost at the ledge!
A few switchbacks later we finally made it to a break in the trees, and off to your right is where you'll find the ledge. It gets rocky and the edge is not guarded, so be very careful if you have excitable dogs or children as there are often chipmunks and squirrels running about as well.
The hike to these ledges and back down is roughly four miles round trip, so it's great for a morning hike if you're looking for something short that doesn't require much preparation. We grabbed snacks at the last minute and took the opportunity at the ledge to eat and take some photos since there were only a handful of other people there that early.
The trail was much busier by the time we started heading down, around 9:30am, so be sure to hike this early if you don't want to worry about accidental photo bombs ;)
I would definitely hike this again, maybe next time I'll try to make it to the top for a sunrise.