Four Ways to get the Family Outside in Winter
With dropping temperatures and shorter days, planning a family hike in the winter can feel daunting. Get out of the winter rut by taking advantage of the unique features Washington trails have to offer. Bundle up, review our winter safety tips and use one of the hikes below to go make some memories outdoors! For those located far away from these locations, WTA has many other great locations to visit in the winter! Check out the Hiking Guide and Hike Finder Map for more suggestions. Where ever you go, don’t forget to fill out a Trip Report after your adventure!
Natural History Site
Mileage: 2.0 roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal
This short loop encompasses a host of different craters, all formed during 15,000 year old floods. Stroller friendly tread, and plenty of benches make this trail a great opportunity to embrace Washington's natural history with the whole family.
> Read more about the Odessa Craters in WTA's Hiking Guide
Suggested Alternate: Ohanapecosh Hot Springs
Take this short but educational hike along the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs trail. Although soaking in the hot springs themselves is no longer an option, there is still plenty to see and do along this loop trail.
Length: 0.4 miles, roundtrip. Elevation Gain: 50 feet.
Slavin Pond Loop
Location: Spokane area
Mileage: 3.3, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 246 feet
With more than 600 acres of rolling fields, pine-forested buttes and wetlands, the Slavin Conservation Area provides plenty of room to stretch the legs in winter. Bring binoculars and see who can spot the most geese, owls, ducks and more within this migratory flyway. You may need snowshoes or grippy boots -- check trip reports to see what conditions are like.
> Read more about the Slavin Pond Loop in WTA's Hiking Guide
Suggested Alternate: Paradise Valley Conservation Area
Explore the system of trails available at the Paradise Valley Conservation Area in the Puget Sound and Islands area. Just to the right of the Mainline trail is the Whispering Firs trail. The Whispering Firs trail is a great way to learn more about the local plants and their role in the ecosystem.
Length: 5.0 miles, roundtrip. Elevation Gain: 150 feet.
Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge
Location: Yakima area
Mileage: 2.0 miles of trails
Elevation gain: minimal
If you want to expose your young ones to as many species as possible in one afternoon, the riparian areas at Toppenish are a great start. There's an abundance of birds life even in winter, though you might have to return in spring to catch the flowers blooming.
> Read more about Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge in WTA's Hiking Guide
Suggested Alternate: Willapa National Wildlife Refuge
See mudflats, forest and grassy sand dunes at the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in the Long Beach area of southwest Washington. Avid birdwatchers will delight over the 200 different bird species often seen in the area.
Length: 10.6 miles, roundtrip. Elevation Gain: 50 feet.
Location: Blewett Pass
Mileage: 6.0, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Start high and stay high, with views nearly always within view on this snowshoe road walk from the top of Blewett Pass. Starting at the Blewett Pass Sno-Park, this is a great choice for beginners, kids and those who don't want to worry about avalanche risks. Whether you're gazing at Tronsen Ridge spread out before you or at Diamond Head on the other side of the pass, this is a rewarding day trip.
> Read more about the Wenatchee Crest Snowshoe in WTA's Hiking Guide
Suggested Alternate: Kachess Lake Get the family moving during the sluggish winter months by giving snowshoeing a try at Kachess Lake. This shorter trail in the Snoqualmie Pass area is a great camping spot in the summer and in the winter, it is a great place for beginners on snowshoes.
Length: 1.0 mile, roundtrip. Elevation Gain: 50 feet.