Looking for a great short(ish) day hike just outside the Seattle area that takes you on a trip back in time? About 75 miles northeast of Seattle, the Iron Goat Loop Trail is a great option! At 5.7 miles with 700 feet of elevation gain it's a reasonable trail that follows the path of the historic Great Northern Railway.
Most of the trail is flat and the bottom half, which can be done as an out and back, is wheelchair accessible and quite friendly to any type of hiker in need of a more relaxed walk. To do the full loop of the trail, you'll need to be comfortable with a rather steep climb up, followed by another flat portion of less developed trail, and ending with a steep descent back down to the beginning of the trail.
Along the way you'll pass many pieces of railroad history. I believe the sign in the above pictures is the mileage from this spot to St. Paul, Minnesota, where the rail line originated from. As seen in the very first picture of this post, you'll also pass a number of tunnels which are mostly roped off to hikers. The ceilings of most of the tunnels have collapsed, leaving piles of debris inside - so I wouldn't recommend defying the caution signs.
If you make it to the upper half of the trail, you'll see even more debris spread out along the trail. The conservation work that has gone into preserving this historic path is really impressive.
I'm not sure if this is year round, but when we hiked the trail we were treated to some fantastic waterfalls cascading over old walls. It was a beautiful sight to go along with beautiful views of the mountains.