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Families Go Hiking - Southwest Region

The goal of the “Families Go Hiking” program at Washington Trails Association is to get families in touch with resources which can get themselves on a trail as easily as possible. To help out, WTA has composed a list of resources organized by region which can ease the process of researching online for an outdoor family activity. Each region is subdivided by park type: city, county, state, and national park in each region. This helps to plan for a hike in your backyard, or a bigger weekend family expedition. Many of the links provided have family-friendly suggestions for a hike, as well as additional information, such as if the park has educational centers, scheduled events, or interpretive trails.
Families Go Hiking - Main image
Photo by Robert Crum
Longview – City Parks

Longview has several city parks. Specifically, Cloney Park has paths and trails in its 5.35 acre park. Check the Longview website for a list of city parks.

Vancouver – City Parks
The City of Vancouver Department of Recreation has teamed up with Clark county parks for efficient management. From their website, choose a section near Vancouver or the surrounding area while searching for a park or trail.

Yakima – City Parks
Yakima has many outdoor activities that families can enjoy. On the Yakima Parks website, make sure to check out the Parks Program Guide which is in .pdf format.  Each season this guide is updated on youth activities as well a list of parks and what these parks provide (trails, picnic tables, grills, etc).

Centralia – City Parks
Centralia has many outdoor opportunities for families and children. Their natural area consists of 71.7 acres, and 2.2 miles of trail near the city. They also have a Rhododendron garden and arboretum. In particular, check their website for Fort Borst Park and Riverside Park.

boy with leaf

Pacific County Parks
Pacific County is positioned along the ocean and also includes the wonderful Willapa Bay. There are two county parks, Bruceport County Park and Bush Pioneer County Park. Check the website to discover what activities are right for your family. The five-mile-long Willapa River Trail is part of an ongoing project that will result in a 57-mile long trail. 

Thurston County Parks
One of the bigger attractions of Thurston County is the Chehalis Western Trail.
This trail is 14.5 miles long and goes through a variety of ecosystems and forests. It also follows the Deschutes River and has access to Puget Sound, Chambers Lake, wetlands, forests, farmland, creeks, prairies, and other habitats which will keep your child interested in the outdoors. Additionally, the trail has half-mile markers which are a convenient tool when planning how far you and your child would like to go. 

Clark County Parks
County has teamed up with the City of Vancouver to create a consolidated parks department. This has allowed Clark County to operate more efficiently. Visit their website to discover a park or trail near you.

Yakima County Parks
Eschbach Park goes along the Naches River and is a great place to bring family for a walk and picnic along the river. The park is big enough for kids to wander and explore, and during the warmer months there are kayak rentals. Visit the Yakima County Parks website for information on this and other parks.

Lewis County Parks
Lake Park receives a lot of praise as the park is on the lake and provides nearby adventures such as the Mayfield and Mossyrock Dams and nearby fish hatcheries.

family on a hikeSTATE PARKS

From the State Parks webpage you can select an area by region, or choose from a list of parks by name. There are also downloadable maps for your convenience. Each individual park page has in-depth information to help your family plan a trip.

Leadbetter Point State Park

This park offers a variety of year-round day use activities on the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay. This park has seven miles of hiking trails, and the opportunity for clamming and fishing.

Wenas Wildlife Area
This wildlife area located near Yakima is one of the most highly regarded bird watching areas in Washington State. It is popular for its Memorial Day Audubon campout and the Umtanum Falls trail.

Beacon Rock State Park
Beacon Rock is open year-round and offers hiking trails for young ones to explore. Hiking up Beacon Rock is a great experience that can be rewarding for children. Bring a lunch to the top to compliment the views below.

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition – McLane Creek Nature Trail (interpretive trail)
This area has family-friendly hikes near wetlands. On the hike use this
trail map with interpretive sites and illustrations of indigenous species.  Each fall salmon return to McLane Creek to spawn, which can be an exciting experience for children to witness.

Cowiche Canyon Conservancy
The Cowiche Canyon Conservancy near Yakima features tons of wildflowers and birds. On a clear day from the trail there are views of Yakima , Mt. Rainer, and Mt. Adams.Kids hiking 


Mount Rainier National Park
There are things to do year round on Mt. Rainier. Options range from sledding in the winter to short hikes in the summer. Also visit the For Kids portion of their website to plan ahead for special programs offered through the NPS.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Mount St. Helens
is a great park to share share with kids how the landscape was altered by the 1980 eruption. Visit the website and view videos of the explosion to get them excited for the visit.

Willapa National  Wildlife Refuge
There are many activities to enjoy within this wildlife refuge. Some of the best bird watching and year-round hiking in the state is available here. Check the website regularly to see if a guided hike or special event is scheduled that could get your family outside! This refuge is best known for the spectacular old growth on its Long Island Unit, accessible only by boat .



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