Some of my best times with my kids have been along a trail. Usually our 6 year old has a favorite stick in his hand, our 4 year old has a fist full of wild flowers and our 2 year old is tucked in tight against my back, humming along as I walk. In those moments, I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. As I watch my kids explore, run, and climb, I forget about my list and I put my phone away. Together, we breathe in fresh air, experience the wonderful world God created and while we have some sweet family time, we create a love for the wonderful outdoors in our children.
If you’d love to start hiking with your kids, you’re in luck! Summer in the Pacific NW is the perfect time to start hiking as a family. Pack some fun snacks, don’t pressure your kiddos to hike too quickly (be fun!), bring your sense of humor and get outside and enjoy this beautiful area we live in!
To help you get started, here are a few kid-friendly hike suggestions. For difficulty, directions and other info, click on the link for each hike.
1. Big Four Ice Caves-North Cascades
This is an easy walk on a wide gravel and boardwalk path to views of Big Four Mountain and the caves beneath the snow. Hikers of all ages and abilities can enjoy this trail. We’ve hiked this trail in late summer and enjoyed wild Huckleberries along the way. When you reach the Ice Caves, your kids will be tempted to climb on them and explore the inside. Even if you see other families doing this and as inviting as they look on a warm day, there are signs everywhere warning of the danger. Do not go into or climb on top of the caves! Other hikers may be doing just this, so parents, have your “Just because everybody else does it…” speech ready.
2. Wallace Falls-Central Cascades
Despite the foot traffic Wallace Falls sees as one of Washington’s most popular attractions, those who get out early on the trailhead will be rewarded with a serene tranquility that few other hikes in the area can offer. And unlike many trails, which sacrifice peripheral scenery on the journey for the prospect of a grand summit view, the Woody Trail is consistently gorgeous as you wind your way along the Wallace River and approach the nine dazzling falls.
3. Lake 22-North Cascades
The curiously-named Lake Twenty-two is the center of an oasis of alpine wetland nestled on the northern shoulder of Mount Pilchuck. The hike to the lake combines the best of mountain rainforests, old-growth, wetlands, and mountain views, yet it is readily accessible. In winter the route lends itself to snowshoeing.
4. Mirror Lake-Snoqualmie Region
Nestled in a quiet basin only a stone’s throw from Snoqualmie Pass, pristine Mirror Lake is a destination to be enjoyed by the whole family. Rarely can you find such lovely sites with so little effort, but here, a short trek will take you through forests, across delicate streams, and past brightly colored wildflowers. Humming with butterflies, birds, bees, and babbling streams, this trail is not to be missed.
5. Franklin Falls-Snoqualmie Region
New to hiking with kids and just looking for an easy day hike with a spectacular endpoint? Look no further than Franklin Falls! At just 2 miles roundtrip with 400 feet in elevation gain it is the perfect destination for any hiker looking for something easy and beautiful.
6. Whistle Lake-Anacortes
This hike is a family favorite of ours. It’s actually where we spent our afternoon for Mother’s Day. Take this hike in spring for the fresh new leaves and the dainty spring flowers, or hike on a rainy day in winter and watch the mist float above the lake among the trees. The lake is very popular on hot summer days.
7. Boulder River Falls-North Cascades
Last year, my husband and I went on this hike for our anniversary. I’ll never forget the cute family we visited with while we all admired the waterfalls. The Dad had offered to take our photo and while we chatted, their kids climbed on rocks and explored. Right then, we decided we needed to come back with our kids. The hike to the waterfalls is fairly short and the waterfalls are incredibly huge and impressive. Either hang out at the waterfalls with a picnic or continue on down the trail to admire old growth trees. This hike is sure to be a favorite with your kids.
Are there any other kid-friendly hikes you’d recommend? If so, I’d love to hear about them!