Editor's note: Updated June 2018
Seattle parks are scattered citywide and interlaced with miles of hiking trails, streams and peaceful vantages offering an infusion of wilderness minutes from home. So skip the two-hour drive to a crowded hiking trail with hungry mosquitoes and embark on an in-city nature adventure (yes, your kid can still take a nature pee if necessary). Chukundi Salisbury, trail coordinator with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, offers these suggestions:
Carkeek Park, northwest Seattle: The 220-acre park has wooded trails that lead to lookouts over Puget Sound, a path to a salmon pond and a trail to a woodland meadow. The best part? You can park your car practically at the trailheads and, Salisbury says, “you can come out of the woods and play at the playground or go down to the beach.”
Camp Long, West Seattle: In addition to rustic, wooded trails, this park has the added benefit of 10 cabins that sleep up to 12 people, available to rent for $50 a night. Camping in the city means less time getting to your destination and more time exploring nature and making s’mores.
Seward Park, southeast Seattle: Everyone knows the paved service road that rings the park and is great for walking and biking. “What a lot of people don’t know,” Salisbury says, “is there are tons of trails up in the wooded area.” The routes wind through wetlands, and the park is home to the 120-acre Magnificent Forest, believed to be the largest stand of old trees in the city.
Lakeridge Park (Deadhorse Canyon), southeast Seattle: At Seattle’s southeasternmost edge sits a park whose original name dates back more than a century and references some pioneer children’s ill-fated pet. Salisbury likes the park because there’s a loop that’s easy to walk with kids in 20 to 30 minutes if you stay focused, or an hour with distractions. There’s also a creek good for tossing rocks into and patches of skunk cabbage that are sure to inspire some kid commentary.
MORE OUTDOOR ACTIVE FUN:
Also check out Seattle Parks and Recreation's websitefor maps and park descriptions.