If you hike with kids, you're likely familiar with negotiating during a hike. If you find yourself in the position of trying to encourage some excitement about your adventure, we can help.
These hikes all are near playgrounds meaning excellent motivation for kids. It's up to you how you structure your day.
Playground first? Playground after hike? Do what works for you! Just have fun and, when you're done, write a trip report and tell us all about it. And, let us know if we missed your favorite playground/hike combo by emailing email@example.com
Length: 3 miles of trails, with options for longer
Fairhaven Park is a great place for kids, with a playground and in the summer, a spray park. There’s plenty of room to run around, have a picnic or wander the nearby trails.
If you’d like to explore beyond the park itself, you can hike farther to the trails on Chuckanut Mountain. There’s also a labyrinth, which fascinates some kiddos.
Location: Near Lynden
Length: 2.4 miles roundtrip
Berthusen Park offers up plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and explore. In addition to the great playground with a wonderful swing set, the park is the site of a homestead from the late 1800s. You can take a look at antique farm machinery, a historical cabin and a big red barn.
Several trails give you options for how much hiking you want to do, including old-growth and a creek.
Rasar State Park
Location: Highway 20
Length: 3 miles, roundtrip
Rasar State Park, along the Wild and Scenic Skagit River, presents a variety of trails for exploring the park’s second-growth forest, native wildlife and sandy shores along the river.
In addition to hiking, the park has a lovely campground. There are two separate playgrounds, one each in the north and south sections of the campground.
Location: near Port Angeles
Length: 7.5 miles, roundtrip
Striped Peak is in Salt Creek Recreation Area, which could easily offer a whole day — or weekend — of entertainment. The playground, which is designed for kids about 5-12 years old, is just a short distance from the trailhead. It’s also surrounded by lots of open grassy areas for playing for all ages.
The trail has some areas with steep drops, so keep little kids close. If you want to make the trail a shorter trip, at about a mile from the trailhead, you can turn down to visit a sweet little cove. Just be sure to visit at low tide.
Ebey Waterfront Trail
Length: 3.2 miles, roundtrip
Ebey Waterfront Trail is a paved, ADA-trail along the Snohomish River in Marysville. A playground with various climbing and spinning toys is right at trailhead parking lot, near the public restrooms.
The trail is kid-friendly, and works well for bikes, scooters and strollers as well as just walking. This is a good place to watch for birds or other wildlife.
Length: 4.9 miles of trails
The newly updated and accessible playground is going to be the star at Forest Park. So if you plans for hiking, depending upon your kids, you might want to do it before they see the playground. Trails wind around the wooded areas of Forest Park.
It’s a great place to just wander. And, when you’re ready, go visit the playground. In the summer, there’s also a spray park. Beware it can get a bit windy, so bring a warm layer and a towel if your kids like the water.
Sammamish River Trail
Location: Runs from Redmond to Bothell
Length: 11 miles, one way
The Sammamish River Trail is a paved trail that’s popular with walkers, runners, bikers and more. It’s a great way to get outside with kids of all ages. And it has the benefit of a number of playgrounds along the way.
Location: Northwest Seattle
Length: 3.5 miles of trails, with plenty of options for loops
Carkeek Park offers a variety of activities for getting outside with your kids. Trails wind all through the park, offering options for short or long trips. (Get a Carkeek Park map online to help you out.) You can enjoy the views to the Olympics and wander down to the beach for some more playtime.
The playground is nestled up against trees and has fun play structures, including a giant salmon. And, speaking of salmon, if you visit in the fall you can see salmon returning to spawn.
Location: near Seattle
Length: Up to 2.4 miles
Seward Park is a gorgeous park, right on Lake Washington. The playground offers beautiful views of the water, and chances for kids to climb, slide and explore.
There are different options for trails around the park, some paved and some that are dirt and wander deeper into the woods. You can learn more about the wildlife and plants in the park by stopping by the Seward Park Environment & Audubon Center.
Length: 3.5 miles of trails
Right on the water, this playground at Seahurst is fun for kids and beautiful for parents. And, for hiking, you have plenty of options with trails that meander through the nearby forest.
In spring, the greenery along the trails is especially stunning. Bring binoculars or a bird guide and can an eye out for what you can see, either on the trails or on the water.
Saltwater State Park
Location: Des Moines
Length: 2 miles of trails
This is a popular destination, and for obvious reason. You can enjoy the sandy beaches or wander through the shady trails. There’s even a nearby campground. During the summer months, a concession stand is also open.
The playground is near the water, with a slide and climbing toys. Picnic tables are conveniently nearby, so you can easily include a picnic with your trip.
Frye Cove County Park
Length: 1.25 miles
Frye Cove County Park is right on the water, with 1,400 feet of beach. There’s a nice little loop trail that wraps around the perimeter of the park, with some options to explore more on side trails. In addition to the playground, there are also picnic tables and plenty of grass to run around in, making for a family-friendly destination.
Length: 0.9 miles of trails
Blandford Canyon is a short, peaceful little hike in a surprisingly secluded area. To add on to your trip, visit DuBois Park on the east side of the canyon. Connecting trails will lead you there.
The newly remodeled playground has several slides and fun climbing structures. If you need even more, you could take a short walk and visit the playground at South Cliff Park — just be careful crossing N. Blandford Drive.
Length: 4.5 miles, roundtrip
Lacamas Park is a diverse natural area with a wild feel for a park this close to town. Picnic by the lake, check out the Camas meadow in bloom, or explore the forest and creeks along the many trails. Or, of course, you could simply hangout at the playground in Lacamas Park.
If you do want to hike, interconnected trails in the area give you plenty of options.
Battle Ground Lake State Park
Location: Battle Ground
Length: 1 mile (with plenty of options to add on)
Whether you start at the lake or the playground, you’ll have something to entertain the kids. A collection of trails runs through the park, including one that encircles the lake.
The playground isn’t far from the lake and the campsites. While you’re exploring, you can discuss whether or not it’s likely that an ancient creature lives in the lake — the locals might be willing to tell you about it.
Lake Chelan State Park
Length: 2.3 miles roundtrip
When your kids get tired of playing the lake, you can set them free on the lovely playground at Lake Chelan State Park. In addition to lake access, the park offers camping and, of course, hiking. There’s a trail along the lake and through the pine forest, with loop options.
It’s a good place to explore with kids, you can choose to make your trip longer or shorter depending upon how you’re feeling.
Length: 10 miles
The Yakima Greenway, which stretches for 10 miles, is a paved trail that’s perfect for a short walk or a picnic with the kids to a run or an all-day hike.
A highlight for kids is the rebuilt playground at Sarg Hubbard Park, with slides and climbing equipment. (The play equipment was damaged by a fire in 2020.)
Dishman Hills – Enchanted Ravine
Length: 1.0 mile
Dishman Hills offers a large network of interconnected trails. If you’d like to hike and play, you can look for any of the trails that start at Camp Caro, which has a playground nearby.
The Enchanted Ravine trail is a short hike, with interesting towering rocks to observe. Just remind your littles that this is a natural area, and all flowers, mushrooms and other fascinations need to be left where they area.
Liberty Lake Regional Park
Location: East of Spokane
Length: 8.4 miles, roundtrip (with options for shorter loops)
Liberty Lake Regional Park is an excellent spot to visit, in summer particular. Although note that there is a $2 entry fee during the summer. There’s a playground, and a swimming area with a lifeguard.
There are also, of course, trails. You can explore the whole lake if you want, of just head out for a shorter exploration.