Hey all you Seattle families! Get out of the city this weekend and enjoy the hiking trails and national and state parks that are just a stone’s throw away. Nature is why we love living here, isn’t it?! Depending on where you live, you might have to drive an hour or so to get to some of these trails, but they definitely make a great day-outing.
Each trail is linked to its associated webpage on the Washington Trails Association website. We recommend reading up on the trail you choose for extra information on parking passes and entry fees and to learn about possible trail closures.
1. Twin Falls
The Twin Falls trail, located in the Snoqualmie Region, is only 2.6 miles roundtrip, a nice distance for you and the kids to sweat a bit but not completely exhaust yourselves. Throughout the trail there are some switchbacks and hills, ending up with a 500-foot gain in elevation. But the climb is totally worth the view. Your first reward is seeing the Lower Falls (the first of the “twins”). But you have to keep hiking to get to the piece de resistance, the Upper Falls. I recommend this hike if you have kids who are keen walkers/hikers. I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m carrying a 4-year-old up switchbacks!
I strongly recommend visiting Mercer Slough if you have toddlers or younger kids who are just developing an interest in longer walks or hikes. Mercer Slough Nature Park, a 320-acre wetland, is located in the Bellevue area. It’s a beautiful place to visit without having to travel far from the city. And it’s surprisingly quiet despite its proximity to downtown Bellevue. It has three trails – Bellefields Loop Trail, Hertitage Loop Trail, and Periphery Trail – that are perfect for kids who aren’t ready to (or just don’t want to) do bigger hikes.
Make sure to visit either the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center, open daily from 10am to 4pm, or the Winter House to grab a map of the trails and learn about the park. Unfortunately, the blueberry farm, where you can take the kiddies blueberry picking, is closed this summer (2019) for construction of the Sound Transit East Link Extension, but make sure to come back and check it out in future years!
This is another beautiful hike in the Snoqualmie Region. It’s 6-miles roundtrip, with a total elevation gain of 1345 feet. It’s best to do during the summer when the snow has completely melted. This hike is definitely a fun adventure with many creek crossings, including bridges and a viaduct. At around the one-mile point you actually have to walk through the creek. If you plan on doing this, it’s a good idea to bring water shoes. Another option is to make this your final destination and stop for a snack and a swim (if the conditions allow of course!) before turning back.
This hike is bit steep, but it’s well worth making your way through the mossy forest to get to the tippy-top of Heybrook Lookout to take in the incredible views of Mount Index, Mount Persis, and Mount Baring. The hike is 2.6 miles roundtrip. There’s a picnic table close to the lookout so you can sit down, have a sip of water, and catch your breath before you follow your kids up the lookout staircase. Oh, and don’t forget your camera! You’re going to want to take some pictures for the memory books.
Federation Forest is a hidden gem. The park has a number of trails that range in length from 0.3 to 2.75 miles one-way. You can also piece together your own hike to suit the distance you want to do. The park borders White River, and at some points along the trails there are spectacular views of it.
The trails are mostly flat – the highest elevation gain in the park in 150 feet – making it great for your young family. Enjoy the peacefulness of the forest as you walk amongst the old-growth trees, or snack at one of the many picnic tables. Federation Forest truly is a terrific destination for nature lovers.
If you’re looking for more of a stroll than a hike but still want to get out of the city, this is the ideal trail for you and the family. It’s ADA-accessible, meaning that if you have a stroller or wheelchair in tow you can bring it along. Yah! And it’s only one mile roundtrip, so young kids can walk it without assistance. The trail turns from pavement into boardwalk as you walk through beautiful wildflowers and look out at the mountains surrounding you. There’s a picnic table area at the far end of the pond, so make sure to pack a picnic – you might want to spend an afternoon here.
This is a fantastic spot for a family hike. There is over seven miles of trails in the Redmond Watershed Preserve that are shared with hikers, bikers, and horses, so keep an eye out for horse poop while you’re walking! With loops of varying lengths, 0.3 to 5 miles, you can pick a trail that’s best for your family.
The trails are well maintained and have excellent signage. Kids will love being surrounded by the mossy, old-growth trees and hearing the sound of birds and chipmunks. The bathroom is in great condition and there’s many picnic tables.
There are a number of different, well-signed hikes you can choose from in Paradise Valley. In total, there’s 13 miles of trail in the park, and there are no huge gains in elevation, making this a great place to bring kids. Most of the trails are shared with hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, but there are some that are solely for hikers.
There’s lots for kids to get excited about in Paradise Valley. Along some of the trails, there are placards that provide information about plants in the forest. In the spring and summer, get the kids to look out for salmonberries and bleeding hearts. And a horse passing by will likely get your kids really excited.
If your family is up for a longer hike, one possibility is to hike the Perimeter Trail, which is about 5 miles. The Mainline Trail, with a few small hills and some rooty areas, is great for beginner hikers. It’s not a loop so on the way back you can retrace your steps or connect with another trail back to the parking lot.
This 179-acre nature preserve is a great place to bring young kids for a hike. And if you have a stroller or wheelchair, that’s not a problem because there are ADA-accessible trails. As you walk through the park you will wind through a beautiful mix of meadow and forest. There’s lots for the kids to be excited about and on the look-out for. There are bird watching platforms, squirrels running through the trees, and salmonberry and bleeding hearts flowering in the spring.
It’s really easy to navigate and change your route since there’s a map at each trail junction. There have been black bear sightings in the area; be alert and read the trail information signs. The trails can be busy but they never feel crowded. One piece of advice – get there early on the weekends because the parking lots fill up fast. At the end of the hike, enjoy the picnic area for lunch in the sun. Fingers crossed that you get a warm, sunny day to hike!
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