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7 Kid Friendly Hikes in and Around Seattle

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The days are starting to get longer and spring is approaching in Seattle, which means it’s time to start thinking about how you and your family will get the most out of the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest. As a local Pacific Northwest blogger at Lola & Lilacs, I write about activities and adventures to do in and around the greater Seattle area. My greatest joy is getting out into the wilderness, even if I don’t have a full day to do so. So, I’ve rounded up 7 kid friendly hikes to get you into the outdoors.

Franklin Falls (2 miles)

I love Franklin Falls for the magnificent reward at the end of the trail – a roaring falls that you can get so close to, you’ll have to bring a rain coat to avoid any type of spray. Just a short 60-minute drive from the city, this is a simple meandering trail, with pretty sights of wooden cabins along the way. The trail is perfect for little ones; it’s well maintained and doesn’t have much elevation gain. Pack a lunch and eat on one of the big boulders in the river at the end of or along the trail to really enjoy the beauty. Whether stopping by the nearest Ivar’s Seafood Bar or my local grocery store, I absolutely love grabbing a bowl of Ivar’s clam chowder before heading out and packing it in my insulated thermos. It’s such an easy way to eat delicious food and stay warm on the trail! Honestly, what’s better than a gourmet meal in nature? I suggest doing this hike in the spring or fall to avoid any road closures from snow. The trail does get crowded, so make sure to arrive early to really enjoy your day.

Discovery Park (2.8 miles)

I absolutely adore Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. There is so much variety in this park, from the highlands loop to the beach down below. I love the accessibility of the park; if I’m ever craving a nature walk or history lesson, my first instinct is to head to Discovery Park. Now you might be wondering why I said history lesson…In 1898, this was an army base to protect against future naval invasion. Throughout the 1900’s, it was used for many different military purposes, but buildings -- and even a veteran’s cemetery -- still stand on the property today – which gives you great cause for a history lesson with your friends or family while walking the park trails. Don’t forget to head down to the beach, whether by foot or car and peak around the lighthouse as well! 

Coal Creek Falls (2.5 miles)

Coal Creek Falls is an awesome destination if you know you want to get out of the city, but don’t have all of the time in the day. It’s a quick jaunt from Seattle (only 15 miles east) and will not disappoint with its beauty. There’s little elevation gain on this trail, so don’t be afraid to bring your little ones or fury friends. What I love about this area is that it’s located on Cougar Mountain, which is chalk full of meandering trails. If you’re not feeling Coal Creek, check the map to hit a different trail for the day. 

Snoqualmie Falls (1.4 miles)

While this one isn’t much of a hike, it’s a good excuse to get outside of the city and see something absolutely beautiful. You can view the falls from above, or hike the nearly one-mile trail down to a boardwalk for viewing from the bottom. I often like to stop by on the way home from another hike to catch the falls or grab a bite to eat. Make a day of it and hop into the Salish Lodge (just at the top of the falls) to grab some delicious food. If you bring the kids, make sure you travel just a mile down the road to visit the town of Snoqualmie and their train museum in all its glory!

Rattlesnake Ledge (4 miles)

This is the classic hike for a Seattleite – everyone has to do it at least once if they live in or around the city. While it did make this list, I will say it’s not my favorite. However, I figured I should put the word out because if you haven’t been you should! Here’s why I like Rattlesnake: it has a well-groomed trail that can be walked on all year round and is great for people of relatively athletic ability. Not to mention, the views really are stunning at the top. Now to why it’s not my favorite: like I said, this is the quintessential “Seattle” hike, so if you’re out here on any weekend, you’ll be hiking with a lot of people. Every time I go, I run into someone I know. While some people love that sense of connection out in the woods, I’d much rather connect with my surroundings and the people I chose to hike with that day.

Lincoln Park (1.9 miles)

I grew up just outside of Lincoln Park, which is within West Seattle, so this is always going to be a favorite for me. I love Seattle for the sole fact that it has absolutely amazing parks inside the city. Once you step foot on the trail at Lincoln Park, you’ll feel like you’re immediately transported outside of the city. Hike the trail around the park and down to the beach. Any time of year you head here, there’s bound to be a full parking lot, but fear not – you often find yourself in serenity on the trails. Fun secret about this place: if you walk down to the beach, you’ll find an outdoor, traditional Olympic size saltwater pool at the very north end of the trail. It’s a great place to relax on a sunny day!

Big Four Ice Caves (2.2 miles)

This is a fun hike to do with kids or dogs because it is short and sweet, and there’s a great reward at the end (oh and getting there is half the fun, since it’s about 2 hours east of Seattle). There’s virtually no elevation gain, restrooms are located at the beginning of the trail and you can find plenty of places to sit and have a nice Ivar’s chowder lunch (just make sure to pack out your trash!). I highly suggest going in the spring or fall unless you have a car that has four or all-wheel drive – conditions can get very snowy in the winter time. When you’re on this hike, look out for a lonely chimney; it used to be the site for an old hotel! Kids tend to love this hike because they can walk over bridges, have a picnic, marvel at old growth trees and even see a real-life cave! I will forewarn you, however, that no one is allowed in the caves; there’s often breakers of this rule, so if you do bring children they may be tempted by others walking inside the caves. 

 

This post was written and curated by Sam Crawley, blogger at www.lolaandlilacs.com