Get Your Kid in a Park This Year

Looking for some ideas on ways to enjoy the first few weeks of fall? Our friends at the Washington Trails Association created this great article with ideas on what to do with your kids in our Washington. This blog post was originally published on WTA’s Signpost blog, which is a fantastic resource for hikers and families looking to plan their next trip.

kid on a beach

Every Kid in a Park is a national initiative started last spring that connects fourth graders and their families with the trails, wildlife, resources, and history on federal public lands for free in 2016.

Many fourth graders have already received their passes, and there is still plenty of time left for your next big outing. Your pass is good in all six of Washington’s National Forests, as well as the National Parks. Not all trailheads on National Forests require a pass, but if you’re not sure, it’s always good to have it displayed just in case.

All of these places have fantastic family adventure options. Take a look at our suggestions below, or search our hiking guide to make your own adventure.

Got a budding naturalist? We’ve got suggestions for 7 science and history hikes on federal lands here.

Take a walk in the woods on a National Forest

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The Old Sauk River Trail is a family-friendly trail that is enjoyable year round, plus there’s an ADA trail nearby for those with strollers or wheelchairs.

The Bagley Lakes Loop is a fantastic way to dip your toe into a longer hike or even a beginners overnight. For more experienced kids, check out the trail to Dock Butte Lookout.

Olympic National Forest

On the Ranger Hole – Interrorem Nature Trail, you can hike from an historic ranger station to the fishing hole where Ranger Emery Finch used to fish for his dinner. It’s a beautiful, easy hike, and the interpretive trail provides excellent educational opportunities as well.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Take the Lewis River Falls Trail to a series of falls that make it easy for hikers of all abilities to put their eyes on something cool. Glowing fall foliage lines the trail, and your kiddos can watch for bold kayakers.
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Goat Peak Lookout is stunning in fall, with views of peaks and golden larches, as well as the commanding views you’d expect of a working fire lookout. Though steep at times, the trail’s short length makes it a perfect hike to introduce kids and newer hikers to the grandeur of the Methow and North Cascades.

Colville National Forest

Sullivan Lake, is a family-friendly playground in summer, with the added benefit of aspens turning gold and orange in fall.

Explore a National Park

Get a National Park adventure without even leaving the city at the Klondike Gold Rush National Park in downtown Seattle. The rangers here can help hook you up with a pass and help you figure out where else you might want to explore in the year ahead.

In North Cascades National Park, visit Thunder Knob, a short little hike to spectacular views.

Olympic National Park

Visit Glines Canyon Overlook Trail, where your family can learn the incredible story of the dam removal on the Elwha River.

Get a sense of our rainforest by visiting the Hoh River. Visit in fall, when you have the best chance to spot some of the local Roosevelt Elk population.

Mount Rainier National Park

The Naches Peak Loop is a very popular, short loop that affords families views of Rainier, fields of wildflowers, and a stop by sweet little Tipsoo Lake.

Ambitious hikers can bag their first peak with Dege Peak, a high point accessible from the Sunrise area, with 360 degree views and of course, a stunning view of the Mountain.

Check out Washington wildlife at a National Wildlife Refuge

Our state features 21 National Wildlife Refuges, most of which offer hiking or walking opportunities.

A couple of our favorites for families are Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney and Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Olympia.

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