Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington and the Cascades  by Joan Burton

Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades Guide Book

by Joan Burton (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington and the Cascades  by Joan Burton
This book combines Best Hikes with Children in Western Washington, Volumes 1 and 2, with loads of new material and an easy-to-use new format that is smaller for greater portability. Hike write-ups have been graphically designed to highlight essential data at a glance, not only by use of the "About the Hike" and "Before You Go" information blocks but also by extensive use of icons in the margins to note type of hike (day hike or backpack trip), difficulty for children, hikeable seasons, and more. Joan Burton has always selected hikes for maximum kid appeal. It's not only that many are short-starting from just half a mile-with "turnarounds" clearly identified (turnarounds are places where tired families can cut their hikes short yet still have a satisfying outing), but Burton tells where your kids can hop around in the spray of a waterfall, find out about bat caves, talk with a fire watcher and examine the Osborne fire finder, or peer into a dark, abandoned railroad tunnel.

© 2006 Joan Burton/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 183.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 183.

Take your pick. Walk a short but steep paved trail to Alta Vista overlooking Paradise Valley. Or continue on a steep rugged trail to Panorama Point and a magnificent view of Mount Rainier. A network of paved trails leaves from the visitors center. Climb the cement steps and follow the trail through the meadows. Children can look back at the Tatoosh Range from this perspective to compare it with later views. Pass the first trail for Alta Vista at about ½ mile; it is extremely steep. The meadows are a flower lover’s paradise. The number of varieties of flowers that bloom here during the season runs into the hundreds.
Ashford, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
These five very popular alpine lakes (Anderson Lakes and Watson Lakes) are surrounded by acres of meadows, cliffs, and gorgeous scenery and offer families diverse opportunities to camp, fish, wade, and explore. The views of Mount Baker, Mount Watson, and Anderson Butte can tempt hikers to go on and on, although trails are rough, sometimes very steep, and filled with roots and rocks.
Sedro Woolley, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 6
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“Hey Mom! It’s the secret hiding place of a slime mold!” said the delighted little boy as he descended the steps into the cave. Another child said with a gleeful smile, “Now we’re inside the volcano!” Of course she wasn’t, but these are the longest intact lava tubes in the United States, visited by 96,000 visitors each year, and representing volcanic activity of Mount St. Helens perhaps 2000 years before the 1980 eruption. Children will be disappointed when they hear how the Ape Cave got its name: It was discovered in 1951 by members of a mountaineering club called the Mount St. Helens Apes. No, there are no Bigfoot apes found there.
Randle, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
A short, gentle paved loop leads to kid-size, heather-framed tarns (small lakes sculpted in bedrock by a passing glacier) and summer snowbanks, dramatic views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, and lessons in volcano behavior. Signs along the way give explanatory geological information, in terms kids can understand, about the formation of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. The trail ends a few feet from the top of Artists Ridge. For those with very young children or those intimidated by the steep Table Mountain Trail, this makes a picturesque short alternative.
Glacier, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
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Why Badger Ridge? Badgers are typically an eastern Washington animal, not seen in this area. Did a badger wander west of its normal range to give this ridge its name? More likely, the name giver mistook a marmot for a badger. Ask children which one they would rather meet on a trail: an ornery predator like the badger, or a placid, meadow-dwelling, grass-eating marmot? Whatever the name, this point is a high and lovely spot, well worth the drive and short walk. It is so remote that more elk than people use this trail. (Have the kids look for elk tracks.) At the saddle, youngsters can scan green parkland meadows and two volcanoes, then continue on to a rewarding destination. Older kids might also want to drop down to little spring-fed Badger Lake and to climb to the old lookout site, but there is a dangerous snow slope on the trail until late July, and so much soft pumice that the trail is not recommended for little children.
Randle, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
Here are two lakes to throw rocks into, ice-cold water to put toes into, and a year-round snow slope to play on. In early summer Bagley Lakes have the added attraction of skiers careening down snow slopes and hoping to stop at the water’s edge. The two alpine lakes lie in the Heather Meadows Recreation Area. One is a man-made reservoir, the second is a deep cirque at the foot of Table Mountain. When the trail has been maintained and the snow is gone, it is easy walking for children, with a dam to walk across.
Glacier, WA - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2
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This shallow, low-elevation (2,442 feet) forest lake lies beneath the massive and spectacular north face of Mount Baring. Children will enjoy the chance to wade, splash, and paddle in this quiet lake, and parents will appreciate the fact that campsites are close enough to the road to make extra trips to the car if necessary. The trail is smooth and gradual, through old-growth forest. Barclay Lake trail No. 1055 drops from the left side of the road to Barclay Creek and proceeds upstream on an easy, well-maintained trail featuring boardwalks and log ends. Cross the creek on a bridge. This bridge was replaced in part by funds from the Spring Family Trails Trust, which is supported by sales of this and other books. Watch for a house-size boulder beside the trail; the moss-covered overhang forms a magical cave. I told my children that elves and dwarves used to live here before America was discovered. It’s a short distance from here to the lake.
Index, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 4
The most famous rock in the Columbia Gorge makes a short and exciting hike for children, safe enough if they understand the hazards of stepping off the railed pathways. In 1915, Henry Biddle, Beacon Rock’s original owner, began building the trail, some of which still bears the marks of his blasting. The rock was not set aside as a Washington State Park until Biddle, who had offered it to Washington and been refused, offered it to Oregon, which was eager to get it. At that point, Washington also became eager and accepted it. The views extend east to Bonneville Dam, west to Crown Point, and down to freight trains, boats, barges, and cars.
Skamania, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
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This 2-mile-long, wide sandy ocean beach calls children to run and chase waves. Unlike other beaches of the Long Beach Peninsula, where vehicles are free to speed along next to waves, this motor-free beach allows families to dig safely in the sand, fly a kite, or just let the children run, unthreatened by cars and off-road vehicles. As tempting bonuses, it has a spectacular headland and rock jetty to explore. Explain to them that jetties on either side of the Columbia River channel the outflow and make it easier for mariners to know where they must cross the bar. The bar is the wall of fresh water from the Columbia colliding with the surf of the Pacific. Since it was built in 1917, the rock jetty has captured and held the sand that makes up the campground.
Ilwaco, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
A minimum effort yields some of the most gorgeous views and flower-covered meadows in the state. The hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from Harts Pass is gentle enough for a four year old yet awe-inspiring for hikers of all ages. But be prepared for a shock. Across the valley, bulldozer tracks zigzag through beautiful alpine meadows, the work of a modern prospector operating under laws passed 120 years ago and not yet amended to fit the twentieth century.
Mazama, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 4
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Three woodland lakes along a short forest trail are good choices for Scout groups or families with young and inexperienced hikers. Children can swim in all three, but shorelines are soft and muddy in the first two. An easy ¼ mile leads to Pothole Lake, a poor name for a lake large enough for several campsites and for a sizable outlet stream. Climb steeply ½ mile through big old hemlocks to Bertha May Lake. Long and narrow, her shore lined with driftwood and blueberries, Bertha May has good campsites. Too bad that many hikers visiting this lake don’t think to carry out their own garbage.
Ashford, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Don’t be put off by the name. A walk along a dike near the southeast shore of Skagit Bay and inside the Skagit Wildlife Recreation Area provides families with wide views of birds and saltwater marshes. Except during hunting season (October through January), this is a wondrous place to see eagles, ducks, trumpeter and tundra swans, snow geese, dunlins, red-winged blackbirds, kestrels, and peregrine falcons. Children will have a hard time understanding why some of the time the birds are provided refuge here, and some of the time they are hunted. Once I saw a snowy owl perched here on nearby driftwood, doing his own hunting.
Milltown, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
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The nearly level trail, smooth and well maintained, crosses a series of water-spanning bridges and marsh-spanning planked walkways before arriving at the ice caves in the snowfields at the base of the 4,000-foot north face of Big Four Mountain. Hike to a stopping point beneath the tall, wide cirque headwall, dappled with snow patches and waterfalls. The ice caves are formed when the undersides of avalanche snowbanks melt from the action of water and wind. They vary in size and shape from year to year. They do not open until midsummer and are never safe to enter — ceilings have been known to collapse.
Granite Falls, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
A gorgeous flower-filled meadow with wide panoramas of the south side of Mount Adams and the golden Klickitat Valley has been a family delight for generations. The day-hike to this superb subalpine park is filled with child-delighting features. Plan to walk to Hellroaring Canyon Overlook and there explain the ice fall, glacial moraines, and volcanic evidences to the kids.
Trout Lake, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
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Many lakes have been named Blue, but to date this is the only one reached by a designated National Recreation Trail, a formal recognition of its outstanding beauty that does not, unfortunately, preserve it from logging or motorcycles. An abandoned old miner’s cabin at the lake makes a good playhouse, and campsites are plentiful near the shoreline. Before leaving the car, gaze up at Liberty Bell Mountain. Its bell shape seems to change as the trail ascends, and it becomes more like a turreted castle. Climbers headed to Early Winter Spires share this trail before turning left for their high camp in meadows below the cliffs. Trail No. 314 is in good shape and modestly steep. At first, highway sounds follow hikers, but at ½ mile they fade out as the path switchbacks from forest to flower-covered avalanche slope.
Mazama, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 4
An easy quarter-mile walk on an abandoned road seems to lead to the top of the world. Young children will enjoy the challenge of reaching the site of a fire lookout built in 1931 on the top of the mountain, where the family will find a breathtaking view of the Olympic Mountains and the waterways of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Bellingham, and Mount Baker. Children will be intrigued with the tiny oceangoing ships, like toy boats in a bathtub, and the plume of smoke rising from a pulp mill in distant Port Angeles, and by a solar-powered radio structure near the top of Blue Mountain.
Port Angeles, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
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Swim or fish in a forest lake high in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Since the bottom is muddy, there is no chance for wading, and small children should be careful. While we were there on a hot July morning, older children who were good swimmers were jumping from a large rock on the east shoreline into the deepest part of the lake. Bleached drift logs line one end of the lake and little children could sit on them and kick safely for water fun and games.
Packwood, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 3
Two large forest lakes lie within 1 mile of the parking area. The first, Lake Evan, is just off the road—convenient for parents of toddlers who seek a wooded picnic spot. The second, Boardman Lake, with only 200 feet of trail elevation, is deeper, cleaner, and larger and offers trout fishing and views of Bald Mountain. Children will enjoy wading and splashing from the shore, whether the stay is for a day or overnight.
Granite Falls, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.75
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An elk-groomed rain-forest river valley offers families all of the primitive magic of the Hoh area, without the crowds. Huge, moss-shrouded second-growth maples and alders lean over the trail, then give way to even more beautiful old-growth forest pruned by resident herds of elk. As the elk lose more habitat to logging, they clip ever more diligently any wayward buttercup, salmonberry, sword fern, thimbleberry, or devil’s club. The groomed, park-like result would make a British garden club gasp. There will be more elk tracks on the trail than people tracks. Have kids guess the size of the animals from the tracks.
Port Angeles, WA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 10
Mother Nature sometimes provides unique treats for kids, and this is one of the best examples: a deep basalt gorge to explore, with a dark 200-foot-long cave/tunnel, so cold that on a hot day it feels like you’re stepping into a refrigerator. The day we were there children from two families, ages three to twelve, were having fun listening to their echoes, exploring the tunnel, and throwing rocks into the pool. The last we saw of them they were happily investigating other caves. Boulder Cave is the official name, but since you can walk through it, you could easily call it a tunnel. Be sure your family has a flashlight or, better yet, two or three, because the inside of the cave/ tunnel is dark.
Naches, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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