If you’re visiting Seattle and it’s a clear day, you’ll likely be surprised by the many mountains that are visible from the city. Seattle features not one, but two major mountain ranges not far from the city. Looking west from the city you’ll see the Olympic Mountains. To the south, you’ll see Mount Rainier. While Rainier is further away from Seattle, the Cascade foothills begin less than 10 miles to the east of Seattle.
Let’s explore some of the most prominent mountains you can see from Seattle.
The Olympic Mountains
If you’re in downtown Seattle, the Olympic Mountains are visible to the west of the city. While much of the Cascades can be blocked by Seattle’s prominent hills (such as Capitol Hill), the Puget Sound sits to the city’s west. That means from areas like downtown, Alki Beach, and rides on ferries you’ll get exceptional views of the Olympic Mountains on clear days.
A few of the highest peaks in the Olympic Mountains include:
- Mount Olympus: 7,980 feet tall
- Mount Deception: 7,788 feet tall
- Mount Constance: 7,756 feet tall
- Mount Anderson: 7,330 feet tall
- The Brothers: 6,842 feet tall
- Mount Townsend: 6,243 feet tall
It might surprise you to learn that many of the highest peaks in the Olympics are not what you see from Seattle. For example, Mount Deception is the second-tallest peak in the Olympic Mountains, but it sits nearly 22 miles west of Mount Olympus and is blocked from view in Seattle.
Even the tallest peak, Mount Olympus isn’t visible from Seattle or other major cities on the Olympic Peninsula like Port Angeles or Port Townsend. You can take in a view of the peak from Hurricane Ridge, but that requires a trek into Olympic National Park.
Olympic Mountains Visible From Seattle
So, what mountains are you seeing from downtown Seattle? Some of the highest peaks like Mount Anderson (7,330 feet) are visible, but they’re not exactly notable. We’ll focus on four summits that have prominence and you’ll likely see in detail when looking at the Olympics from Seattle.
The Brothers are twin peaks that are highly visible from Seattle. The south peak reaches 6,842 feet while the north peak is 6,650 feet in altitude.
While The Brothers aren’t as tall of peaks as other mountains on this list, they’re situated due west of Seattle and on the Eastern edge of the Olympics. Since they’re located closer to Seattle and aren’t obstructed by other mountains, they stand out far more. It’s likely most visitors to Seattle first notice The Brothers when taking in a view of the Olympics.
Mount Constance is notable because its summit reaches 7,756 feet, which is only 134 feet shorter than Mount Olympus. In addition, it’s clearly visible from Seattle. One surprising aspect of Mount Constance is that during summers it has far less snow than nearby peaks. That’s because the mountain sits in a rain shadow that leads to far less precipitation than mountains just 20 miles to the west.
Mount Washington sits at the southern edge of mountains you can see from Seattle. The mountain is 6,260 feet tall, which is shorter than other peaks on this list. However, its location on the southern and western edge of the Olympics makes it more prominent.
Finally, another notable peak between The Brothers and Mount Washington is Mount Skokomish. In the picture above it sits on the left, while the right peak is Mount Stone. Mount Skokomish is about 6,434 feet tall.
The Cascade Mountains sit east of Settle and have peaks that are significantly higher than the Olympic range. However, many of these peaks are obstructed from Seattle as hills block visibility. In total, the Cascade Range stretches about 700 miles and counts 35 peaks over 9,000 feet. If you’re looking for great hiking that’s just a short drive from Seattle, you’ll want to look at hikes in the Cascade foothills.
Cascade Mountains Visible From Seattle
Mount Rainier is one of the most iconic features of the Seattle area. This active volcano has an elevation of 14,411 feet. If you’ve ever been to other mountainous areas in the United States like Colorado, you’ll notice that Mount Rainer looks significantly more impressive than other 14,000+ foot peaks. The reason for that is the mountain’s prominence. It has a prominence of 13,246 feet, meaning its base rises from a little over sea level.
There are many fun ways to keep track of Rainier like the website ‘Is Rainier Out Today.’ Rainier is visible from much of Seattle, but some of the best places to get a view are from the shores of Lake Washington or the observation deck of the Space Needle. Mount Rainier is most clearly visible during summer months that have less cloud cover. However, in recent years smoke and smog has led to more sunny days where Rainier isn’t as visible from the city of Seattle.
Mount Rainier is about 59 miles southeast of Seattle if you’re looking to visit the mountain on a trip.
If you’re looking at the Cascades with a view of Bellevue’s skyline in the foreground, the tallest mountain peak behind the Bellevue skyline is Mount Index. The peak is 5,995 feet tall, and is notable because of three spires that rise sharply into the sky.
Tiger Mountain is only slightly more than 3,000 feet tall, which isn’t especially notable for the Cascades. However, the mountain is an important landmark since it’s extremely close to the city of Seattle. Tiger Mountain is located close to the suburb of Issaquah, and along with six nearby mountains is called the “Issaquah Alps.”
The area around the mountain is a State Park and features a number of trails and recreational opportunities. At the top of the mountain there’s a clearing named ‘Poo Poo Point’ that’s a paragliding hot spot. During summer days you can find dozens of paragliders jumping off Tiger Mountain to soar over the Seattle area.
Other Notable Peaks Not Far From Seattle
With hundreds of peaks nearby, it’s difficult to cover all the interesting mountains you can see from the Seattle area. Here are some interesting ones we haven’t covered.
Mount Baker is located in northern Washington and is a more prominent site from Vancouver, British Columbia. If you’re looking south from Vancouver and see a large mountain across the border, it’s likely Mount Baker.
The mountain is covered by large glaciers and reaches a height of 10,786 feet. If you’re a fan of skiing, there’s a large ski resort just 9 miles from the mountain. Baker is notorious for its heavy snow fall. In 1999 the resort recorded an astounding 95 feet of snow!
Mount Si is just a short drive from Seattle and looms over the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie. The mountain is only 4,167 feet high but rises sharply from its surroundings. If you’re looking for great hikes near the Seattle area, Mount Si should be at the top of your list as there are numerous trails ascending the mountain.
One fun fact: If you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, you’ll likely recognize Mount Si as it was often seen in the background of the show.
Mount St. Helens
Mount St. Helens is about a 125-mile drive from Seattle and isn’t visible from the city. However, if you’re taking a trip to Seattle it’s a fascinating day trip.
There’s a visitor center constructed near the mountain that lets you explore the aftermath of its major eruption in 1980. The eruption of Mount St. Helens reduced the volcano’s height by an incredible 1,300 feet and decimated the nearby landscape.
Glacier Peak is the second-tallest mountain you can see from Seattle. It’s not nearly as notable as Mount Rainier as it’s set deeper into the Cascades and blends in shorter peaks that are closer to Seattle.
The mountain stands an impressive 10,541 feet tall and is 70 miles northeast of Seattle. Glacier is an active volcano that is believed to have erupted last sometime between 1600 and 1800 AD.