Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three beautiful hikes in Washington state to explore with babies and young children.
Hiking with young children (under 5 years old) is different from hiking with school-age children. These three hikes in Washington state offer families of young children beautiful trails to explore while considering the unique ways young children hike, wander, doddle and explore.
While there are thousands of trails to explore in Washington, our local Hike it Baby branches recommend these three hikes that are close to metro areas, accessible by all-terrain strollers and beautiful to explore with young children.
Paradise Valley Conservation Area (Woodinville, WA)
Located just 30 minutes from Seattle, the trails at Paradise Valley Conservation Area provide an escape into nature any time of the year. Old growth forests mixed with wetland trails make it a fun place to explore with toddlers and kids of all ages. The trails are mostly flat and safe for the littlest walkers, with very few steep drop-offs. You can choose your own adventure with how far you go (there are up to 13 miles of winding trails), though during the weekends and busier times, stick to the foot-traffic-only trails (such as the Whispering Firs Trail) to avoid mountain bikes and horses. As an additional bonus, the trails are well marked so it’s easy to find your way back to the parking lot if you get turned around. Learn more about the trail in the Family Trail Guide.
- An all-terrain (jogging) stroller works for the mainline trail, if you don’t mind a few bumps and small water crossings. To explore the single-track foot-only trails, bring a carrier.
- In the fall and winter months, wear waterproof shoes or boots, as the trails can get muddy and wet.
- Bring your own water, as there is no water at the trailhead. A porta-potty is available.
Photo credit: Jessica Wynne
Whatcom Falls Park (Bellingham, WA)
Located in the outdoorsy college town of Bellingham, WA (90 miles north of Seattle), Whatcom Falls Park offers 5.5 miles of forested trails to explore year-round, along with the largest waterfall in the area, playgrounds, ponds, old railroad and train artifacts, and a dirt bike track for your balance bike rippers.
The main trail is wide with gentle ups and downs, making it a great place to explore for young children. From the main parking area, take a short walk to a mossy bridge and waterfall, then continue to wander the trails or head to the playground or dirt bike track to release more energy.
- The main trail is all-terrain stroller-friendly, though for a longer exploration of the side trails, bring a carrier.
- If you have a little one who wanders off or is attracted to water, keep a close eye on them around the bridge and water areas.
- Bathrooms and water are available at the park.
- Bring a lunch or extra snacks; there’s enough at this park to explore for hours!
Photo credit: Kristin Klopfenstein
Mt. Rainier Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls (Paradise, WA)
Located in west-central Washington state, the day hiking trails at Mt. Rainier offer gorgeous views of the iconic mountain with nearly endless trails for hikers to explore. For families with toddlers and young children, the Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls is a great option. The one-mile trek is friendly to strollers and wheelchairs (with assistance). In addition to stunning views of Mt. Rainier, you’ll be treated to 72-foot-high Myrtle Falls. After reaching the falls, return to the Paradise Visitor’s Center or hike on for a few more miles on the trail.
- In the winter months, check the road and trail conditions as many of the park roads close in the winter.
- If possible, visit in the morning on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
- Although a longer trip from major cities, Mt. Rainier is a must-see in Washington State and offers several trails great for toddlers and families with young children.
Photo credit: Deanna Curry
More Resources for Families with Young Children
Washington state offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide
- Washington Trails Association
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
What are your favorite hikes in Washington for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!