Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Lincoln Park Walkalong the beach

Photo credit: Great Runs

5 Seattle-area family beach hikes

Scenic beach hikes from St. Edwards Park at the north end of Lake Washington to Pt. Defiance Park in Tacoma

Here are 5 beach hikes to consider when you are looking for a family hike in the Seattle area. Beach hikes can be ideal for kids: they are typically flat, short, and loaded with interesting discoveries. And you don’t have to wait for the warm sun – a winter beach hike has its own charm as long as everyone is bundled up.

North Seattle Family Beach Hikes

Carkeek Park

Photo credit: Seattle Parks

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.

Address: 950 NW Carkeek Park Road, Seattle, 98177

Parking/Entry Fee: Free

Hours: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Construction: Spring 2025 – Pedestrian Bridge Replacement, learn more here.

 

Discovery Park

Photo credit: Seattle and Sound

The largest park in Seattle, 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), which has several habitats and remarkable panoramas of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. From this trail, go to the seaside for beach combing.

If you prefer a sandy beach (suitable 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 it is all uphill on the way back (but it is a lovely wooded trail)! Not completely tuckered out after your trek? Try the playground, nestled in the trees at the park’s east end. They have a free summer shuttle on Saturdays through September 7, 2024, that you can take down to the beach.

Address: Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, 98199

Parking/Entry Fee: Free

Park Hours: 4:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Construction: No current construction

 

Saint Edward State Park

Photo credit: Taum Sauk

The 316-acre Saint Edwards Park in Kenmore sits at the north end of Lake Washington. contains many trails that lead you along forested paths to the lake’s shoreline. Markers show mileage and difficulty level, so you can choose the best path for your family. Our favorite is the Seminary Trail, 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 on the lake on a nice day. Be sure to search for the giant, hollowed-out tree near the shore—it’s an excellent 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.

Address: 14445 Juanita Drive NE, Kenmore, 98028

Parking/Entry Fee: Discover Pass

Hours: 8 a.m. – dusk year round

Construction: No current construction

 

West Seattle Family Beach Hike

Lincoln Park

Photo credit: GeorgeColePhoto / Shutterstock

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 pool 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.

Address: 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle. 98136

Parking/Entry Fee: Free

Hours: 4 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Construction: The current project is expected to be completed July 2024 with a new play area

 

Tacoma Family Beach Hike

Point Defiance Park

Photo credit: Point Defiance Park

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. The outer loop of the Five Mile Drive is permanently closed to motorized/vehicle traffic for safety reasons (the inner loop is open to vehicles).

There are more remote hiking paths and 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 in the spring and summer seasons). You can also stroll through picturesque gardens showcasing native plants. There is so much to do here. You might have to visit more than once.

Address: 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, 98407

Parking/Entry Fee: Free

Hours: Open 1/2 hour before sunrise and closed 1/2 hour after sunset

Construction: Five-mile outer loop closed to vehicles. Learn more about current projects here.

 

Read more:

Looking for more easy and kid-friendly hikes? Check out 6 great Seattle trails to hike this summer

Want to learn more about exploring the beach at low tide? Read The Guide to Tidepools Around Seattle

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