We try and go hiking at least a few times a month and in the summer I can usually get four hikes in a month- nothing beats a hike in our lush PNW forests. However, don’t think that I’m some magical wood nymph with little forest nymph children who frolic effortlessly over hill and dale. Our road to hiking as a family was won with lots of training, patience, and strategic bribery (and I’m not just talking about the kids, haha!).
I was tired of always sitting at the same playgrounds with C and A when they were little and quite frankly, I was bored of the monotony. But, C and A were 3 and 1 at the time, and I knew no matter how buff I got, I just wasn’t going to be able to wear two backpacks full of toddlers, so I had to figure out how to get at least one of them walking for an extended period of time. So, how to get toddlers interested in hiking…
Enter geocaching! I’d like to brag a bit here- it turns out that if you rename geocaching to “treasure hunting” toddlers get quite interested (woohoo!), well at least the 3 year old does- the 1 year old was pretty content with being bribed with crackers. The geocaching app can’t be easier to figure out, and if you pick a kid oriented cache or two out ahead of time, you’re golden! Make sure you got good walking shoes and plenty of snacks (and maybe a few dollar store toys to swap in the cache) and enjoy the outdoors with your children.
Once our bigs got older bribery wasn’t really needed. They don’t mind hiking, and even bring things along with them such as slingshots and notebooks should a perfect rock appear or a opportunity for sketching present itself. Occasionally we do still geocache, which is quite fun for us in a different way now that the bigger kids can help look more effectively.
I thought I’d share some of our favorite kid friendly hikes that we have taken in hopes that you can feel inspired to get out hiking with your kids if you happen to be in Washington. All of these hikes are do able for older toddlers and for a parent packing a baby or spare toddler or an excessive amount of snacks. However, we still do all these hikes and my big kids love them! I highly recommend the app All Trails for directions and pictures.
Maple Valley Gnome Trail – a MUST DO with kids. My two year old can easily spend an hour walking this trail- it’s that fun!
Cedar Butte Trail
Flaming Geyser River Trail– while the geyser isn’t particularly exciting, this state park is a great destination for an afternoon.
Lake Fenwick– this is a bit of a challenge simply because of the stairs, but kiddos can do it! It’s great counting practice too, haha!
Cougar Mountain Indian Trail
Coal Creek Trail– look for the coal pieces in the creek on this historical trail!
Saltwater State Park– book some extra time to spend at the beach!
Franklin Ghost Town Trail– don’t be spooked! This hike has a lovely waterfall, but I recommend it in the summer as it can get washed out in places.
Iverson Railroad Trail and Westside Road– keep an eye out, and you’ll see Mt. Rainier in all her glory on a clear day!
West Hylebos Wetlands Trail- this is not only a lovely walk, it has a historical cabin right at the parking lot- so neat!
Echo Peak Loop Trail– this is one of our favorites and a hidden gem. The views on a clear day are killer!
Franklin Falls – short but well worth hanging around the falls for a couple of hours. Pack a picnic!
Dash Point Trail
Shangrila, Anti- Aircraft Ridge Loop – sounds weird, but it’s a great loop with even better views.
Myrtle Falls via Skyline Trail– this is on Mt. Rainier, so you could easily spend a day puttering around Paradise.
Nisqually Vista Trail– also on Mt. Rainier
Silver Falls Trail – lovely views on Mt Rainier- usually this is great done in tandem with the Grove of the Patriarchs hike, but alas, the Grove of the Patriarchs in closed until further notice. If they open back up, GO!
Well folks, that’s a few of our most favorite kid friendly hikes! I hope your able to try some or let me know if you have any other good suggestions, we love to explore! Cheers!