Ever heard of the phrase, "Not all who wander are lost"? Well, wandering around Bellevue during the fall season is like stepping into a vibrant watercolor painting. Sure, Washington has predominantly dubbed the "Evergreen State", but come autumn, and it bursts into a riot of colors, painting the town red... and orange, and yellow!

Larch Madness Isn't Just a Phrase!

When you're thinking of visiting Bellevue during this time, you might wonder, when's the best time to catch those fiery leaves in full glory? According to the Farmer's Almanac, every year between October 12-28 is when Washington State flaunts its best fall colors. And it's not just about the colors. It's about the variety! From the breathtaking hues of the maple, ash, and aspen trees, the landscape is nothing short of a masterpiece.

A Word to the Wise Before Hitting the Road

Just a heads up! While fall is mesmerizing, the weather might play some tricks. So, before you head out on your colorful adventure, a quick check on the Washington State Department of Transportation site might save you some weather-related surprises.

Where to see the fall leaves in and around Bellevue

Bellevue, often known for its vibrant urban center, is equally cherished for its natural beauty. As autumn arrives, the city transforms into a canvas painted with shades of amber, gold, and ruby. Whether you're strolling through a local park or simply driving downtown, Bellevue's fall foliage offers a visual treat right within the city limits. Let's explore the best spots in Bellevue to witness this seasonal spectacle.

Coal Creek Falls Sky Country: Nature's Vibrant Palette

Distance: 2.7 miles loop
Level: Moderate

Start your autumn adventure with this scenic trail near Newcastle. As you delve into the heart of Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park, the vibrant colors of the season will unfold. An ode to Bellevue's coal mining past, you'll come across cave holes and relics of the bygone era. Make your journey count by reaching Coal Creek Falls, which is especially vibrant during the rainy season. Pro Tip: Arrive early; the parking lot fills up fast!

Bellevue Botanical Garden: A Symphony of Colors 

Size: 53 acres
Level: Intermediate 

Stroll amid stunning Bellevue Botanical Garden that showcase the hues of fall like an artist's palette. From the Japanese Yao Garden to the Perennial Border Garden, every step immerses you in nature's splendor. The Woodland Garden, with its array of Japanese maples, promises a rich tapestry of yellows, oranges, and deep reds. Remember to find a quiet bench, sit down, and let nature's tranquility wash over you. Best part, you can keep your whole journey green by taking BellHop to the gardens from your hotel!

WA 520 Trail: A Lakeside Promenade

Distance: 10.6 miles out-and-back
Level: Intermediate 

Stretching from Redmond to the University of Washington, the WA 520 Trail is a haven for those seeking both activity and serenity. As you walk or bike alongside Lake Washington, absorb the lake views and the distant mountains adorned in autumnal colors. It's more than just a trail; it's an experience.

Washington Arboretum Park: Fall's Grand Theater

Size: 230 acres
Level: Intermediate 

This is where autumn truly comes alive! Witness the magic of fall as you explore diverse sections in Washington Arboretum Park, from the Rhododendron Glen with its towering dawn redwoods to Azalea Way lined with cherries, hickories, dogwoods, and maples. The Asiatic maple section showcases the diversity of the genus, while the oak section is a testament to the season's transition. Each turn, every path, is an ode to nature's grandeur. Pro Tip: Visit between mid-October for the best colors, but remember, the magic starts in September and lingers until November.

Whether you're a local or a visitor, Bellevue in the fall is a spectacle not to be missed. The city and its surroundings are adorned with nature's most vibrant colors, promising breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences. So, grab your camera, put on those walking shoes, and let's embrace the magic of fall!

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Fall Hikes Near Bellevue

Just a stone's throw away from Bellevue lies a world of trails that beckon hikers to embark on autumn adventures. The nearby landscapes, cloaked in fall colors, offer a harmonious blend of tranquility and exhilaration. From family-friendly walks to challenging treks, the area around Bellevue has something for every hiking enthusiast. Ready your hiking boots, and let's discover the trails that showcase the very best of the Pacific Northwest's autumnal charm.

Rattlesnake Ridge: Get Your Heart Racing!

Distance: Approx. 4 miles round trip.
Level: Moderate.

As you lace up your boots and prepare for the uphill journey on Rattlesnake Ledge Trail, envision yourself in a victory pose looking across the beautiful Rattlesnake Lake after making it to the top. See that steep rocky face? That's where you're headed! Remember to grab a trail map at the kiosk. The ascent offers peeks of the lake and introduces you to giant moss-covered boulders. Once you reach the top, tread carefully but enjoy the breathtaking panorama. And hey, if your legs still feel spry, the Middle or Upper Ledge await. Post-Hike Tip: Refuel at North Bend Bar & Grill or Stan's Barbecue.

Snoqualmie Falls Hike: Nature's Majesty in Full Display

Distance: 1.4 miles round trip.
Level: Easy.

Only have an hour to spare? This trail's for you. Snoqualmie Falls is one of the region's most adored attractions, and its roaring waters attract over a million visitors a year! This trail is a short yet rewarding journey, you'll be serenaded by the roar of the falls as you approach. Pass by the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Project and see the massive green pipes that carry the water, and hike along the banks of the river to the base of the falls. Once you get there, snap a selfie, breathe in the mist, and let nature rejuvenate you. Dog Lovers: Your furry friend can join but keep them on a leash! Join Karra as she adventures through Snoqualmie Falls and makes the perfect day trip from Bellevue to Snoqualmie on The Vue!

Naches Peak Loop: A Photo at Every Turn

Distance: Approx. 3.5 miles loop.
Level: Intermediate.

Starting at Tipsoo Lake, this trail is a visual treat and a great way to explore Mt. Rainier National Park from the comfort of your car. Be it wildflowers or Mount Rainier's imposing beauty, there's a photo op at every corner. Don't forget to pack a picnic; the serene alpine lakeside makes for a perfect lunch spot. Remember: Some parts of this trail are in Mount Rainier National Park, so if you're with your dog, check the trail map to stay in pup-friendly zones. Join Kara on a majestic hike on Naches Peak Loop and see the beautiful fall colors in action on The Vue!

Bridal Veil Falls: Romance in the Air

Distance: Approx. 4 miles round trip.
Level: Intermediate.

Feel the magic as you meander through the ancient forests of the Great Cascades. The crescendo of cascading waters is your soundtrack. Once there, watch the water dance down the rocks, and maybe, just maybe, you'll understand why they call it Bridal Veil. History Buffs: The remnants of the old Honeymoon Mine nearby add a historical touch. If you’re looking to take your hike to the next level, tack on the extra hike up to Lake Serene. Have lunch on the rocks as you stare at the beautiful alpine lake nestled atop the mountains.

Blue Lake Trail: The Hidden Gem

Distance: Approx. 4.4 miles round trip.
Level: Easy to Moderate.

A bit further from Bellevue but oh so worth it. Imagine a pristine lake, golden larches on its banks, and the rugged Cascade mountains standing guard. It's nature's masterpiece! Pro Tip: Start early, and by noon, you'll have a lakeside spot all to yourself. Near the Blue Lake Trailhead, don't miss the Washington Pass Lookout. The views of the Liberty Mountain group are the perfect endnote to a day of hiking. Watch Kara on her perfect basecamp trip from Bellevue to Blue Lake in North Cascades on a special episode of The Vue!


Packing for Your Hike:
Ensure you're equipped with the essentials: a trail map, water, snacks, a first-aid kit, and suitable footwear. And always check the weather forecast before heading out.

So, whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Bellevue's fall trails offer something for everyone. Ready to feel the crunch of leaves beneath your feet? Grab your gear, and let's hit the trails!

Spectacular Scenic Fall Drives and Rides

The allure of a scenic drive or ride during fall is irresistible. Setting out from Bellevue, the open road promises a journey through landscapes adorned with a mosaic of fall colors. Whether you're behind the wheel or enjoying a train ride, the routes we're about to explore offer panoramic views that encapsulate the essence of autumn in the Pacific Northwest. Buckle up and prepare for an unforgettable voyage through the season's most enchanting scenes.

Chuckanut Drive:

A mere 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Bellevue, Chuckanut Drive offers a serene escape that's reminiscent of California's iconic Big Sur, albeit on a more intimate scale. This picturesque route stretches for 24 miles, intricately winding its way along the Chuckanut Mountains — the unique point where the Cascade Mountains kiss the sea offering travelers a unique spectacle of vibrant fall foliage set against the backdrop of the expansive Samish Bay.

As you traverse this winding path, the golden, orange, and crimson leaves of the trees contrast brilliantly with the deep blues of the water. On clear days, the distant San Juan Islands appear on the horizon, further amplifying the drive's visual splendor. The journey becomes a medley of cascading leaves, gentle sea breezes, and the soft murmur of waves. Chuckanut Drive isn't just a route; it's an autumnal experience, celebrating the dance of land, water, and the changing seasons.

Stevens Pass: A Journey Amidst Autumn's Splendor

Embarking from Bellevue, set out on Highway 2 and traverse the Stevens Pass Highway. The route bears testament to the enduring spirit of nature and neighboring communities, having recently faced forest fires and road closures. Amidst these challenges, the highway remains a beacon of autumnal beauty, with swathes of deciduous trees proudly displaying their vibrant fall colors.

As you cruise along, embrace the journey as the destination. The meandering roads, enveloped in a tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, make every turn a visual treat. While the highway itself offers a captivating experience, there are numerous pullouts and vistas, inviting travelers to pause and immerse themselves in the season's splendor.

Join our outdoor adventure ambassador, Kara, on her Stevens Pass Fall Color Adventure on the Vue!

Chinook Scenic Byway: Mount Rainier's Shadow

The Chinook Scenic Byway takes you through the Wenatchee National Forest, offering glimpses of Mount Rainier. Explore the Federation Forest State Park or head towards the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park for panoramic views. A stroll around Tipsoo Lake is a must-do. As you descend, the landscape shifts from lush green to a drier terrain near Naches. Consider a detour to the Yakima Valley or the White Pass Scenic Byway for more adventures.

Snoqualmie Valley Train Ride: Rolling through History

Board the Snoqualmie train and traverse from North Bend through Snoqualmie, culminating in a majestic view atop the Snoqualmie Falls, a site of reverence for the Snoqualmie People. This 2-hour round trip takes you back in time, offering glimpses of the upper Snoqualmie Valley's rich history.

See you in Bellevue this fall!

Bellevue, often nestled in the shadows of its more recognized neighbors, unveils a treasure trove of autumnal wonders waiting to be discovered. With its breathtaking fall foliage, invigorating hiking trails, and mesmerizing scenic drives, Bellevue beckons travelers seeking a serene escape from the ordinary. Its proximity to both lush forests and shimmering waterways offers a unique blend of natural beauty, making every moment spent here a picturesque memory. Whether you're tracing the golden hues on a mountainous trail or winding down a scenic drive with the shimmering bay at your side, Bellevue ensures an unforgettable fall experience. So, pack your bags, book your stay, set your sights on those amber horizons, and let Bellevue be your quintessential weekend fall getaway. In this city's embrace, every leaf whispers a story, and every sunset promises a golden tomorrow.