Seattle's Child

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Northwest Trek

Kids can play at the reopened Kids' Trek playground. (Photo/Katie Cotterill)

Fall family day trip: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Kids can see the animals, then imitate them while playing.

Fall in the Northwest is perfect for family day trips, and here’s one you might not have thought of: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville.

In addition to the familiar animal-viewing experiences (either on foot or by car), the Kids’ Trek playground is reopening with safety precautions, there’s a new way to watch the grizzlies, and fall is rutting season for the resident elk.

Kids’ Trek, the park’s nature-inspired playground, is reopening with safety precautions including closure of high-touch areas and addition of more hand sanitizer stations. Kids can slide, hang like a spider in a rope net, climb down a “tree trunk” and walk a rope bridge to hide inside a giant tree stump.

Grizzly overlook: A new, two-level viewing deck is a great way to watch resident grizzly bears Hawthorne and Huckleberry. Visitors can watch them play, eat and sleep.

Elk rutting: Fall at Northwest Trek brings the distinctive sound of elk bugling. That’s because September and October are mating season, when male elk vie for dominance through noises and the clashing of antlers before selecting their mates.

If you haven’t been to Northwest Trek in a while, here’s what else is different in the coronavirus era: The traditional tram rides through the park are not operating. Instead, visitors can check things out from their own vehicles (the Wild Drive experience) or on foot (Wild Walk). Go here for details on visiting the park. And more here on safety protocols, what to bring and what to expect.

Northwest Trek is in Eatonville (on the way to Mount Rainier), an estimated 1.5-hour drive from Seattle or Bellevue.


More fall fun:

Find the perfect pumpkin patch for your family

5 hikes that are perfect for fall and winter

5 ways to celebrate Halloween that aren’t trick-or-treating


About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.