Washington’s best family-friendly trails on SeattleTimes.com - Best of the Northwest Best of the Northwest

Washington’s best family-friendly trails on SeattleTimes.com

Western Washington, hiking, trail running, climbing, Best of the NW Seattle City Park year-round trails.

 It’s Saturday morning, your kids are just waking up, you’ve got a full day of freedom ahead of you, and you’re stuck with that same dilemma every family seems to face every weekend.

What to do?

Nearly 50 percent of Americans didn’t participate in a single outdoor recreation activity in 2013.
Hiking burns 250 calories an hour on average.
There are over 3,000 hiking trails in Washington State.

Western Washington is rich with adventure for families of all types.

In 2005 with the birth of our identical twin girls, we made a concerted effort to give our children the rich upbringing that the outdoors provides by finding a new trail in our Western Washington backyard to explore every weekend of the year,” says Bryan Schaeffer, creator of Best of the NW website.

Parents look forward to a change of pace from the weekly grind, kids look forward to something else to do besides the usual. So here’s an idea. Fill up the backpacks with water bottles, clothing layers and maps instead of schoolbooks.

Then point the car in almost any direction away from the city, letting highways of lush greenery set the tone for the day’s adventures.

To get started, here are our Top 10 family-friendly trails.

1. Discovery Park Outer Loop Trail: Ask a Seattleite what the biggest most spectacular park in the city is chances are they will reply “Discovery” without missing a beat. With dramatic open vistas from the south bluffs, descending the winding trails, through the woods to the rocky beach the Outer Loop Trail has it all.

2. Point Defiance Perimeter Loop Trail: Busy beaches to quiet secluded forest, old growth trees, high bluffs and spectacular Puget sound views; you will see them all on the outer loop trail.

3. Barclay Lake Trail: A short tree-covered streamside hike to Barclay lake is a perfect diversion for little legs with a refreshing dip under the massive Mount Baring as the reward.

4. Twin Falls: Accessible from two directions, the Twin Falls trail follows along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the dramatic bridge-crossing viewpoint.

5. Iron Goat Trail: This historical gateway is a wonderful outing for scenery and deepening appreciation of the perseverance of the thousands of workers that forged the passage through this section of the Cascades.

6. Lake Dorothy Trail: Abundant with great swimming and some prime campsites. Lake Dorothy is a popular destination for these very reasons.

7. Blue Lake Trail: Steep in places but well graded this moderate hike arrives at beautiful alpine Blue Lake.

8. Ozette Triangle Trail: The classic Ozette “Triangle” with three stretches of trail boardwalk to beaches and forest connects the loop at the western most point in the continental United States.

9. Deception Pass Trails: With jaw-dropping views around nearly every corner, this spectacular seaside route travels across tide pools, beaches, bridges and bluffs.

10. Greenwater Lakes Trail: Multiple river crossings, side waterfalls, massive trees and dramatic views down the Greenwater River gorge make this an engrossing hike for the entire family.

So the next time greet a Saturday morning with a sense of adventure and ask yourself what in the world are we going to do today? Remember, the trails await!

It only takes a couple of steps to get going…

Lake Dorothy 2005

Lake Dorothy 2005

Lake Dorothy Schaeffer Hikers 2015

Lake Dorothy Schaeffer Hikers 2015



Find tips and trails by difficulty, location or season at bestofthenw.org. We put in the research to find the most loved trails and destinations in the Pacific NW.  With 20+ years exploring crags, trails, beaches and mountains we are just scratching the surface. 

Seattle City Park Trails Patch

More Seattle City Park Trails


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