5 walks for Seattle-area families on wet winter days
Licorice fern growing on a big-leaf maple in Seward Park. Licorice ferns die off in spring, but they thrive in our wet winters.
Just because it might rain, doesn’t mean you have to stay home. In fact, there’s something delightful about exploring wild places on soggy winter days, provided everyone in your party is dressed in the appropriate combination of layers and waterproofing. Here are some short hikes to some lovely places to enjoy a rainy day. Pack snacks and water, put on some cozy wool socks and go exploring.
Seward Park has one of the only two remnants of old growth forest within Seattle, and it’s fun to stroll among the Douglas firs, red cedars and big-leaf maples while they are sporting their full winter finery of dripping green moss and ferns. There’s a network of trails through the woods, with signs at each junction indicating where you are. One idea for elementary-aged kids: appoint your kids the navigators and have them guide you through the park. The trail around the waterfront is flat and friendly to those with strollers or on wheels. Once you go inland, it gets rugged.
This spot next to the University of Washington is a former landfill, painstakingly planted and restored to be urban wildlife habitat. Songbirds dart through the shrubs. Hawks watch from the trees. Ducks, here for the winter to mate and eat, cruise the ponds and the shoreline. You’ll likely see a heron posed somewhere, and maybe you’ll see gnawed twigs left behind by a beaver. (Or maybe you’ll just jump in puddles. There should be plenty of those.) All the walking is on flat gravel trails.
1625 118th Ave SE, Bellevue
Light-rail construction nearby means that this winter the main hiker access to the park is via the narrow, twisty trails leading from 118th Avenue Southeast, so this isn’t a stroller-friendly option. It is, however, a great place to see woods, take boardwalks through wetlands check out some epic mud and watch the ducks patrol the sloughs.
In the heart of West Seattle, you can duck into a lush ravine where old growth trees shade the trail. This is a foot-only expedition because of steepness and stairs, and it’s a short walk: only about a mile and a half to go from one end of the park to the other and back. If your party has energy to burn off, you can extend one end of the walk through the streets down to Alki Beach.
Southeast 79th Street, Interstate 90, Exit 20, Issaquah
This one is well worth the drive past the edge of Issaquah. There’s a bunch of trails here, so a map is a good idea. Two wonderful options for hikers with kids: the half-mile Swamp Trail, which has interpretive signs telling the adventure of Zoe and the Swamp Monster, and the Tradition Lake Loop, a nice, level, stroller-able route through some picturesque damp country.
More winter adventures