On a beautiful, yet very chilly, day in January we set out for a hike with friends at Bridle Trails State Park. The trails were very well maintained, mostly flat and kid-friendly. It made for the perfect winter hike, and we didn’t have to battle any snowy mountain roads or passes to get there.
Getting there and parking: watch for horses
Bridle Trails State Park is located between Kirkland and Bellevue, with its main entrance in Kirkland. Just a short distance off I-405, the entrance is very well marked and easy to find. When pulling into the large parking lot, the parking situation may look a little confusing at first glance. We quickly realized that individual vehicles were parking along the perimeter of the parking lot and the large open space in the center was reserved for pull-through horse trailer parking.
A Discover Pass is required to park in the parking lot. An annual pass is $35 or a day pass will cost you $10. You can purchase either online before you go, or you can purchase a day pass onsite using cash or check.
Another option is to take advantage of the free days in 2023 when a Discover Pass is not required to visit a state park.
There are three main loop trails throughout the park, all offering varying lengths. The Raven Trail (1 mile), the Trillium Trail (1.7 miles) and the Coyote Trail (3.5 miles). There are maps and posts along the trails that make it very easy to ensure you stay on the trail you have chosen. (Please note: the Coyote Trail is undergoing maintenance. Trails were clearly marked with detour signs at the time of our visit.)
We arrived at the trailhead on a Saturday morning around 10:00 a.m.. Although the parking lot was nearly full, with both regular vehicles and horse trailers, we didn’t see nearly as many people along the trail. We opted for the Trillium Trail. Within minutes, we felt like we had been transported deep into the wilderness. We couldn’t hear a single car or any indication that we were in the middle of two busy cities. It was very peaceful walking among the trees and early morning fog.
On our hike at Bridle Trails State Park we had 5 kids ranging in age from 4 to 9 years of age. All managed the trail and distance without any trouble. The kids enjoyed hiking ahead of us and us moms appreciated that the trails were well maintained. It made it easy to keep an eye on them. Along the trail there were several interpretive trail signs offering fun facts about the plants and animals native to the area. Our kids excitedly ran from one sign to the next. They were a great motivator to get even the smallest of hikers to keep moving forward.
The Trillium Trail was very easy, mostly flat and very kid-friendly. Online reviews from WTA suggest that all three loops share these same characteristics. It’s a great winter hike to add to your list as you don’t have to worry about driving or pass conditions. Not to mention, you don’t have too far to go to find a great lunch or coffee spot to warm up at after a chilly hike.
Although most trails have rules to follow, there are some unique ones here that are important to be aware of. No bikes, motor vehicles or unleashed dogs are rules we all usually have on our radar. However, an important rule here is that horses have the right of way on these trails and is probably news to many. Horses can spook easily, which can potentially lead to them injuring themselves, their riders or those around them. For this reason, it’s important that pedestrians stop when they encounter a horse, make their presence known and step to the side of the trail to let them pass.
Know before you go
• Sporting four arenas and a calendar full of horse shows and organized rides, Bridle Trails caters primarily to equines and friends, but the park is also friendly to hikers, including those with leashed dogs.
• A Discover Pass is required. An annual pass is $35 and a day pass is $10
• Horses have the right of way on the trails. This means that if you encounter horses while hiking, you should step to the side of the trail to let them pass.
• The Coyote Trail is undergoing maintenance until an undetermined date. The trail is well marked with detour signs. The other two trails, Raven and Trillium are open.
• Restrooms available by horse arena
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