Over the years, we’ve recommended a variety of family hikes. From urban hikes and waterfall hikes to colorful fall hikes and easy hikes for the under 5 set, Seattle offers plenty of options to go hiking with kids year-round. To help you figure out which Seattle hikes are best for you and your little nature lovers, we’ve put together a list of the best hikes near Seattle and provided links to even more. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your backpacks and read on. It’s time to hit the trails!
Discovery Park – Magnolia
With nearly 12 miles of paths and 534 acres to explore, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park and offers stunning views of Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Take the three-mile loop trail for a nice overview of the park and sights of open meadows, beautiful forest groves, impressive sea cliffs and active sand dunes (perfect for your little diggers, so don’t forget the pail and shovel). Or bring a kite and a picnic dinner to spread out in the meadow, and walk off your meal by taking a hike on the South Beach Trail to look for the lighthouse and sights of wildlife on the beach. This park is the epitome of urban hiking.
Park extra: The new brightly colored playground features tons of fun equipment designed for ages 2-12 and is the perfect place to either start or finish your urban hike. The playground is located in the same spot as the former one—behind the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center and next to the tennis courts and basketball court. Follow the signs to the Learning Center and then the “foot prints” to the playground.
Find more urban hikes here.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
Grace Cole Nature Park – Lake Forest Park
Lake Forest Park’s Grace Cole Nature Park is a hidden gem that’s big on adventure, but easy on little feet (as well as parents’ supply of patience). Amidst a kaleidoscope of colors during the fall months, kids will enjoy exploring the hillside path as it meanders past big ol’ pine trees, ponds and wetlands.
This hike is a short one, even for inexperienced trekkers. Plan to hit it up after school or head there to break up a busy Saturday with a dose of serenity. Before you head back to the car, take a short walk north past the top of the parking lot to find a boardwalk. Follow it to find the secret ponds that feed Brookside Creek.
Find more hikes with fantastic foliage here.
Grace Cole Nature Park
30th Ave. N.E. at N.E. 166th St.
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
Snoqualmie Falls – Snoqualmie
Each year over a million visitors are beckoned by the majestic sights and sounds of Snoqualmie Falls, and for good reason. A mesmerizing 1000 cubic-feet of water per second pounds into the Snoqualmie River from a 268-foot drop, while cool mists and rainbows float up from its splashes. Mini hikers will love the interpretive plaques describing the wildlife, flora and fauna of the region, as well as discovering there are two power plant facilities located at the falls. Starting from the upper parking lot the path winds from the railed observation platform, behind the gift shop and then down a moderately steep grade to the lower observation platform. If it has been a while since you’ve visited, a new lower parking lot is available for those who want to get that up-climb done and out-of-the-way first.
This hike is good for all ages and history buffs. After your trek, take a historic trip through the town of Snoqualmie—this is where you will find tasty eats, a candy shop and a train museum to boot.
Find more waterfall hikes here.
6501 Railroad Ave. S.E.
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
Twin Falls Trail – North Bend
The Twin Falls at Olallie State Park near North Bend is the perfect hike for the under 5 set and it’s a less-than-45-minute ride from downtown Seattle. Golden maples and multi-hued nurse logs (fallen trees that facilitate the growth of saplings) add to the restrained fall color on this trek through a moss-laden coniferous forest along the shores of the South Fork Snoqualmie River. The beginning part of the trail goes along the South Fork Snoqualmie River and is a great spot to stop and skip stones into the water. The pay-off at the trail’s end is a beautiful waterfall. There are benches and a nice view of the falls at .75 miles in; this is a good turn-around spot if little ones get tired. Or, you can hike another mile up to find a bridge that crosses high over the water and between the two falls.
Find more hikes for kids under 5 here.
Olallie State Park
51350 S.E. Homestead Valley Rd.
North Bend, WA 98045
Tiger Mountain – Issaquah
Starting at the High Point Trailhead, there are two hikes perfectly suited for little legs and patient parents. With littles in tow, a not-too-taxing hike is the Bus Trail. It’s wide and flat with room for kiddos to run ahead and burn off some of that cooped up energy. This trail will take you past a hulking wreckage of an old bus, the perfect place for a photo opp, a little exploration and a quick break. From there it’s easy enough to turn around and head back to the trailhead.
A longer hike but still flat is the Around the Lake Trail. At the High Point Trailhead either take the Puget Power Trail or the Around the Lake Trail which will loop you around Tradition Lake. It’s about one and a half miles, but it is flat and surrounded by ferns and lush moss-covered trees, perfect for wildlife spotting and communing with nature.
And while it’s not really a summit, older kids will get a kick out of being able to boast with likely a few giggles that they hiked to Poo Poo Point. From the trailhead take the Bus Trail, south on the Gas Line Trail and then southeast on the Poo Poo Point Trail.
Read more about hiking Tiger Mountain with kids here.
Tiger Mountain High Point Trailhead
S.E. 79th St.
Issaquah, WA 98027
Union Bay Natural Area – Seattle
With 74 acres and four miles of shoreline along Lake Washington, the Union Bay Natural Area is a public wildlife area just a stone’s throw away from the shopping mecca of University Village. Gorgeous grasslands and wetlands combined with the backdrops of Husky Stadium, Lake Washington and Mount Rainier add to the area's diverse scenery. A popular bird watching destination, bring the binoculars and either a heavy-duty jogging stroller or a backpack for the wee ones, as the gravel trails tend to get muddy during the fall and winter season. Psst...there’s plenty of parking available at the adjacent Center for Urban Horticulture.
Find other hikes perfect for the fall and winter months here.
Union Bay Natural Area
3501 N.E. 41st St.
Seattle, WA 98105