Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

(Photos by Kathryn Mueller)

7 spring hikes that are easy and kid-friendly

Spring is in the air! Hit the trails with these easy hikes.

From beach hikes around town to old growth forests brimming with towering trees, we rounded up seven spring hikes around the Pacific Northwest that will enchant your toddling explorers and ignite a love of nature. With snow still covering most mountain trails, we kept this list short and snow-less. Happy hiking!

Need more hiking inspiration? You can also check out these 6 short hikes for short legs.

Boeing Creek Park

Located in Shoreline near Shoreline Community College, Boeing Creek Park has looping hiking trails that span about 1.9 miles. Choose your own adventure and make your hike shorter or longer, mostly depending on your kid’s mood.

We usually start at the north entrance located on NW 175th St. and follow the meandering trails toward Shoreview Park. Boeing Creek Loop Trail links up with Hidden Lake Trail and Forest Loop Trail. Both will take you to Shoreview Park where little ones can enjoy playgrounds, tennis courts and more. You’ll also find a bathroom there which is a nice perk! Pond Loop Trail is the easiest trail, only about a quarter of a mile long, and is ADA accessible.

With minimal elevation gain, only about 400 ft., this hike will get your heart pumping without thigh-burning climbs. As you wander through the forest, you’ll find stepping stones across babbling brooks, dry creek beds, hear songbirds and weave your way through beautiful old growth trees.

Hold onto little hands as you make your way up from the creek and if you find your way down into the gully. In some areas, the trail is a bit eroded.

Fun fact: Hidden Lake is an artificial lake and was created by William Boeing when he owned the property in the 1920s. The city of Shoreline plans to remove the dam and restore Boeing Creek, so don’t be surprised if Hidden Lake turns into “Lost Lake” soon. You can find the lake by following signs for Hidden Lake Loop Trail.

Convenience, play and exploration all converge in one trip! Before you go, download the trail map here.

This hike is dog friendly. Bring your furry friend and let them romp around. There is an off-leash dog park at Shoreview Park as well.

17229 3rd Avenue NW
Shoreline, WA 98177

Good to know for parents: If you need to get more energy out after hiking, you can head a couple miles down the road to Richmond Beach and enjoy expansive views of the Puget Sound (and probably a couple of trains). On the way, stop at Richmond Beach Coffee Co. Ask for their kid’s hot chocolate. It comes with a giant dollop of whipped cream and sprinkles!

Bellevue Botanical Garden

In the heart of busting Bellevue is an urban garden oasis your kiddos will love. This 53-acre refuge is home to flowers, waterfalls, rock gardens, native plants, ponds, meandering hiking trails and a suspension bridge. For a hiking adventure, look out for trail markers for the Ravine Experience. At the main entrance, take a left and follow the paved ramp as it rounds the corner. Take another left and continue past Yao Japanese Garden. There will be a pond on your right where ducks and native plants call home. After that you’ll see the gravel path heading downward into the ravine. Large trees and ferns line the trail as well as wooden benches perfect for a quick rest stop. Keep on the path until you get to a fork. Take a left and get ready to see your kiddos face light up with excitement.

Be prepared to spend some time walking back and forth on the bridge. My little ones could stay there all day. Take in the views high atop a creek below and hold tight as the bridge gently sways.

There are so many trails to weave and roam through the Ravine Experience. Here is a trail map to help familiarize yourself with the gardens before you go. You can also download this fun and interactive scavenger hunt.

Insider tip for parents: If you need a pick-me-up before hitting the trails, a coffee bar located in the garden will put a pep in your step. Swing by Copper Kettle Coffee Bar for a cup of joe.

Copper Kettle Coffee Bar Hours: Weekdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (closed Tuesday); Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: Free
Parking: Free
Open: Dusk until dawn

12001 Main Street
Bellevue, WA 98005
425-452-2750

Fort Casey State Park

Fort Casey is a family-favorite of ours because it combines history, hiking and imaginative sensory play, all in one location. Located on Whidbey Island, it can be a trek to get there from Seattle, but it’s worth the trip. With 1.8 miles of hiking trails, your family can explore the many maintained paths, while also stepping back in time and learning about the historical significance of the location. Remnants of the fort, including giant mounted guns (don’t worry, they aren’t real), will have curious minds inspired.

While visiting Fort Casey State Park, follow trails to hike along the breathtaking bluff or discover the shoreline of the Admiralty Head Marine Preserve on the Pacific Northwest Trail. Make your way down to the beach below and catch a glimpse of a sea lion or hunt for shells of all shapes and sizes.

Fort Casey State Park also boasts a lighthouse, and a large, open grass field. You’re likely to see some high flying, colorful kites in the air during your visit.

You’ll need a Discovery Pass for this trip or you can purchase a one-day pass at the parking lot.

1280 Engle Rd.
Coupeville, WA 98239
360-678-4519

After you’ve tuckered out your toddlers, make a trip into Coupeville. There are so many cute, family-friendly restaurants and shops to uncover!

Kapaw’s Iskreme located in Coupeville’s quaint downtown is delicious. The adorable ice cream parlor is well-worth the short drive from Fort Casey! Grab a scoop and head out on the pier before making your way home.

21 NW Front St.
Coupeville, WA 98239
360-929-2122

For parents and little voyagers who are looking for a more challenging hike, you can also visit Ebey’s Landing. The stunning water views are unmatched, but the hike is longer (4.4 miles) and has some elevation gain. You don’t have to take the trail leading up along the bluff. You can always stick to the shoreline for an easy beach hike.

Grand Ridge Park

Grand Ridge Park in Issaquah is home to a vast system of trails (more than 11 miles total). Unleash your inner explorer and head out on an adventure through cedar groves, vibrant green forests with thick foliage and impressive wetlands. You’re likely to see wildlife. The 1,200-acre park is home to many forest creatures (be on the lookout for birds, chipmunks and even bears!). Please use proper safety precautions when hiking. Keep children close and have a plan if approached by a wild animal.

This hike is another great excursion for bridge lovers! Grand Ridge trail is home to an astounding 40-ft bridge, made possible by Washington Trail Association volunteers who helped with its construction along with many boardwalks.

We headed out on the trail head closest to Duthie Hill Park. After making your way down the meandering trail, you’ll encounter the Mike O Puncheon bridge, an astounding 600 ft boardwalk, built in 2012. It sits just above the wetlands and connects visitors to more winding forest trails. You don’t have to hike the entirety of the 7-mile multi-use trail. We hiked until it was clear our toddler had enough (and the whines kicked in). If you continue on past the boardwalk another mile or so, you’ll come to Canyon Creek and another bridge. Honestly, getting out of the house is a win, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it that far (you’re doing great!).

What I truly love about this hike is how remote it feels when you’re walking through the forest. It’s a wild, forest haven close to home.

There are many shorter loops depending on where you begin your trek. Download the trail map before you go and plan ahead!

This is also a popular location for mountain bikers, so keep eyes peeled for bikers riding the trails.

Duthie Hill Park Southwest Parking Lot:
26100-26156 SE Issaquah-Fall City Rd.
Issaquah, WA 98029

Discovery Park Loop Trail

 

Discovery Park Loop Trail is a 2.8-mile loop that takes hikers through beautiful forests, meadows and showcases showstopping views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains on clear, sunny days. The park is teeming with large trees, wildflowers and wildlife. It’s always an adventure!

The loop itself is pretty easy, with very minimal elevation gain, but it’s proven to be a bit of a trudge for my 2-year-old on more than a couple occasions. Be sure to manage expectations. We’ve had to turn back due to tired feet and weary legs.

If you’re looking for a fun, and more moderate beach hike, you can take the South Beach trail down to the water. It’s steep in parts, but stairs help guide the way. Remember, what goes down needs to come up, so prepare your kiddos for a climb if you choose this route. If you do make it down to the sandy beach below, the payoff is worth it. The mountain and water views are spectacular, and kiddos will enjoy dipping their toes in the water (this may be a good time to advise bringing an extra pair of clothes). You’ll also see West Point Lighthouse, a working lighthouse!

Have little ones under 6 years old? You qualify for a beach pass! Beach Parking Passes are free, but they are also very limited. You can check availability at the Discovery Park Visitor Center during open house Tuesday through Saturday, 8:30am – 5pm. You can find more information here about

3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199

Coal Creek Trail

Coal Creek Trails is a great family-friendly hike that immerses visitors into a historic past. Get ready to pretend you are coal miners on an excursion. Enjoy the lush foliage, giant old growth trees and calming creek. This hike feels remote and serene. With minimal elevation gain, it’s great for little legs. As you stroll through the dense forest, you’ll see signs educating hikers about coal creek and the miners who worked there

This beautiful hike includes bridges, waterfalls and artifacts from the past (including a coal car).

For parents who don’t want to hike the entirety of the trail (an intimidating 4-miles) with little ones, you can break it down into smaller hikes by starting at Cinder Mine Trailhead. It’s only a short jaunt to the falls if you turn right once you take the trailhead down into the ravine.

Coal Creek Pkwy SE.
Bellevue, WA 98006

To find Cinder Mine Trailhead, follow the road past the Coal Creek Parkway trailhead and head toward The Golf Club at Newcastle. There are trailheads along the road with small parking areas. Many of the trip reports we read mention car prowlers, so don’t leave valuables in your vehicle.

Meadowdale Beach Park

We almost took this one off our list because the beach access is closing mid-April, but it’s still a fun hike even without the incredible beach payoff at the end of the trail.

Meadowdale is a hidden gem located in Edmonds. It’s a moderate trail with thick forests, streams and an abundance of wildlife. The way down is much easier than the way up. With a carrier, it isn’t too bad, but I wouldn’t recommend this hike for toddlers if they don’t like stair climbs.

The trail weaves through the forest, taking hikers down into a sanctuary of old, giant trees, long slumbering stumps and a creek that winds toward the beach. There are lots of places along the way to stop for a break or play in the creek.

You’ll have to wait until fall for the beach access to open again, but the wait will be worth it. You can read more about the Meadowdale Beach Park and Estuary Restoration Project here.

6026 156th St SW.
Edmonds, WA 98026

 

Published April 14, 2022

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About the Author

Kathryn Mueller

Kathryn Mueller is a mama of three toddlers and calls Shoreline home. When she's not wrangling her little ones, she's a writer, winery owner and outdoor enthusiast. She enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her little ones in tow and can usually be found with a coffee in hand.