Editor’s note: Please remember to recreate responsibly; follow social distancing and mask requirements as directed by local parks and cities.

With the school year in the rearview, it’s time to pedal forward and make the most of summer. What better way to enjoy these carefree days than with a family bike ride. No matter what your kiddo’s riding stage—tricycle, training wheels or (look, ma!) no hands—we’ve got the bike trail to match. So grab your helmet and water bottle. It’s time to get rolling!

Toddlers

When it comes to tots on trikes, balance bikes or scooters, keep it simple with short rides and paved loops that leave plenty of room for parents, too.

Stay Healthy Streets
It doesn’t get easier than grabbing your wheels and biking down the street outside your front door. Do just that when you keep the kids moving along the more than 23 miles of Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets. Part of the city’s response to the Stay Home Stay Safe measures, it gives residents plenty of space to recreate responsibly while maintaining social distancing. You can find the original street maps here, the next phase here and maps of the final 11 miles here.

photo: via Cascade Bicycle Club

White Center Bike Playground
Whether your kiddo wants to learn the rules of the road, or just wants a safe space to pedal, the White Center Bike Playground is a spot to do both. Based on Denmark’s traffic playgrounds (Trafiklegepladsen), this paved play lot has stop signs, intersections and two-way lanes so kids can learn the ropes before the head out to ride with the big kids.

Dick Thurnau Memorial Park
11050 10th Ave. S.W.
Seattle WA
Online: kingcountyparks.org

Jefferson Park
High atop Beacon Hill is Jefferson Park. A juggernaut of play, the many paved trails that loop around the grassy knolls, spray pad, skatepark and playground are just what tots need to gain confidence in their skills. There’s plenty of room for parents to guide them along the paths and wide open spaces that practically beg families to sit for a picnic when hunger strikes, so be sure to pack one to enjoy when ride time is over.

3801 Beacon Ave. S.
Seattle, WA
Online: seattle.gov

photo: photo library

Surrey Downs Park
The paved loop that encircles the grassy field at Surrey Downs in Bellevue is like the NASCAR racetrack of bike paths. It’s sleek and flat, the perfect place for kids to go round and round without interruption on a sunny day. Parents can sit back and enjoy the view while their Little rides or walk trike-side along this spacious path. Bring a ball (in addition to your helmet) to kick or catch when you’re done wheeling around.

11177 S.E. 4th St.
Bellevue, WA
Online: bellevuewa.gov

Preschoolers

This age group can handle a bit more. Here’s where they can go the distance without worrying about stoplights and cars.

Wash Park Arboretum Loop
The 2-mile paved loop that rings the Arboretum is an easy path for newbies and seasoned riders alike. It’s a great spot to take refuge from the sun or rain (take your pick), and you can always explore the grounds once you’re done with your ride. The terrain is multi-use and designed to keep bikes going slow, the perfect pace for Littles out on their first big ride.

Good to know: The parking lot at the Graham Visitor’s Center is currently closed.

2300 Arboretum Dr. E.
Seattle, WA
Online: botanicgardens.uw.edu

Lake Hills Greenbelt
We love this lush Eastside trail that lets kids loop a lake without hills or tricky turns to trip them up. You’ll find a continuous trail that that snakes through the wetlands, across Lake Hills Boulevard and into the wide open space of Larsen Lake. Ride it now and then head back in July and add a stop at the Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm to your afternoon adventure. They open for the season in early July, with timed tickets and other requirements so families can safely pick blueberries in the time of coronavirus. And just like that, you’ve got the day planned!

Lake Hills Ranger Station Parking Lot
15416 S.E. 16th St.
Bellevue, WA
Online: bellevuewa.gov

 

Myrtle Edwards Park
Because biking with a view is always worth it, bring the kids to Myrtle Edwards Park along the waterfront. It’s a short 1.25-mile paved path that gives kids the chance to get their bike on without watching for cars or tons of other riders. Ride it as a short out and back, where you hop off the bikes and enjoy a healthy snack at the turn around point. Short and sweet, it’s a great way to spend the morning.

3130 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA
Online: seattle.gov

photo: courtesy Mercer Slough

Mercer Slough Nature Park
The slough's Periphery Trail is an easy one for the age group. It offers a quick tour around the place on an easy paved path. Hop on to skirt the park’s perimeter and then call it day, or grab one of the connector trails to see where the day takes you. Bonus points for all the wildlife you and the kids will spot along the trail. Maybe bring your binoculars? Definitely a camera.

Environmental Education Center
1625 118th Ave. S.E.
Bellevue, WA
Online: bellevuewa.gov

Big Kids

Long routes that can take half a day (or more!) are the way big kids roll.

Burke-Gilman
There’s a reason the Burke Gilman is everyone’s go-to ride in the city. Not only does it get you where you’re going (shout out to the bike commuters), but it’s super safe too. With very few street crossing, families can hop on and ride for miles without worrying about ferrying kids safely through busy intersections. Add in plenty of spots to take a break and you’ve got the family-friendliest trail this side of Lake Washington (and beyond!). Find a spot to hop on and then get moving on this citywide trail.

Online: seattle.gov

Alki
Everybody knows about Alki’s main drag. It’s where you’ll find every kind of wheel (and then some) tooling around on summer weekends. But Alki is more than its main drag. In fact, if you start your ride near Salty’s and follow the paved path as far as it’ll go, you end up at Lincoln Park. The best part? There’s only one street crossing along that whole 6-mile stretch. Add in fabu views of the Olympics, city and Sound, and you’ve got one sweet bike path.

Good to know: Although the bridge is currently closed, families can hop of the water taxi—it drops you off right where you need to be—to try this route.

Online: seattle.gov

Sammamish River Trail
Eastside, riverside? Yes, please. Take the kids to this 10-mile stretch that follows the (you guessed it) Sammamish River. It’s a generally flat trail, with easy-going terrain so kids can go the distance. Families will find the trail less crowded on the weekdays, but don’t shy away from a weekend ride if it’s the time that works best for you.

Online: kingcounty.gov

Snoqualmie Valley Trail
Over 30 miles of leisurely biking trails is what you’ll find along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Stretching from Duvall through Carnation, all the way to Rattlesnake Ledge, the trail loosely follows the Snoqualmie River, as it winds past farms and rolling hills on the Eastside. Depending on where you pick up the trail, you can hop off your bikes to enjoy outdoor art, snap pics of Mt. Si or make a daring crossing on the Tokul Trestle (don’t look down!). So many places this day can take you!

Online: kingcounty.gov

—Allison Sutcliffe

featured photo: AdobeStock

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