5 Seattle-Area Family Beach Hikes
Have fun identifying tidepool creatures.
Beaches aren't just about sun-bathing and surfing—they can be the perfect destination for a family hike! You don't have to wait for warm sun to take your little ones out on a hike, and all of these trails have the lure of a beach to explore.
With lush forest, meadows, wetlands, a saltwater beach, and more than six miles of hiking trails, the 220-acre Carkeek Park in North Seattle will entice the reluctant. Try the Wetland Trail boardwalk, then traverse the North or South Bluff Trails for the workout and the spectacular views of Puget Sound.
After your hike, head over the footbridge toward the beach, where kids can station themselves right over the train tracks as powerful locomotives thunder by. Carkeek's expansive beach lets children skip rocks, play in the water at the mouth of Piper's Creek, look for sea critters, and picnic on driftwood. Don't leave without a spin at the playground. Kids love the salmon-shaped slide and spotting trains—it's their reward for working up a sweat on the trails.
950 NW Carkeek Park Road, Seattle, 98177
The largest park in Seattle, and boasting more than seven miles of trails, Discovery Park has multiple habitats: ponds, meadows, forests, and saltwater beaches. We like the Loop Trail (2.8 miles), with several different habitats and remarkable panoramas of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Three paths from this trail take you down to the seaside for beach combing.
If you prefer a sandy beach (good for small children), take the South Beach Trail. The North Beach Trail takes you to a rockier beach, especially great during low tides. Note: the beach is at least 1.5 miles from the parking lots and the trail is all downhill, which means all uphill on the way back (but a lovely wooded trail)! Not completely tuckered out after your trek? Try the playground, nestled in the trees at the east end of the park.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, 98199
Just north of the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle lies beloved Lincoln Park. This green space is noted for its diversity—it's lined with 4.6 miles of walking paths, almost as many bike trails, scattered playgrounds and playfields, and both a wading and outdoor pool. Fourteen trails offer plenty of choices for your family to take in nature at your own pace. Kids will enjoy the paved path along the shoreline, hiking up to the great vantage points of the upper bluff, and looping back down again.
There are plenty of picnic tables along the beach where you can relax after your hike, watch passing ferries, and pause for a midday feast before checking out the area's intertidal community.
8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle. 98136.
About two million people visit this 702-acre gem in Tacoma each year to experience old-growth forests, lush gardens, scenic views, beaches, hiking trails, and attractions (the park includes Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum). Five Mile Drive winds through the forest, offering vistas of Puget Sound, the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It's closed to vehicle traffic every Saturday and Sunday until 1 p.m., allowing families to check out the scenery in safe surrounds.
There are more remote hiking paths, as well as a paved promenade for an easy stroll from the Marina to Owen Beach. Watch the ferry boats head over to Vashon Island and the kayakers paddling about (you can rent kayaks at the beach), or stroll through picturesque gardens showcasing native plants. There is so much to do here, you might just have to pay a few visits.
5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, 98407
The 316 acres Kenmore park contains many trails that lead you along forested paths to the shoreline of Lake Washington. Markers show mileage and level of difficulty, so you can choose the path that works best for your family. Our favorite is the Seminary Trail, which is a little more than a half-mile to the water.
Short hikes allow more time to play around in the sand, have a picnic, and watch the boats out on the lake on a nice day. Be sure to search for the giant, hollowed-out tree near the shore—it's a great spot for photos. Head up the trail and end your adventure at "castle park," one of the area's most unique playgrounds. Take note: This is a state park, so you must have a Discover Pass or pay for a day pass on site for $10.
14445 Juanita Drive NE, Kenmore, 98028