How To Get Your Disney Princess-Obsessed Kid Out Hiking
Do princesses hike? In Washington, they do. From Tiana to Merida, Ariel to Princess Leia, if your kid can't get enough of Disney princesses, then use our princess guide to Washington trails to get your little one out hiking.
Whether you expected it or not, somehow you've ended up with a Disney princess-obsessed child. Maybe that means wands and tiaras wedged into the backseat of your car. Maybe it means a heavy rotation of sparkles in the laundry.
Well, if you're a parent who wants to expose your kid to the natural world (and have them fall in love with it) you can turn that princess-obsession to your advantage.
Step. 1 Bedtime reading
Buy this book and read it at bedtime.
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?, by Carmela LaVigna Coyle and Mike Gordon (Rising Moon, 2003)
Spoiler alert: princesses do wear hiking boots.
The sequel, Are Princesses Happy Campers? is out now, too!
Step 2. Outfitting your prince or princess for the trail
You'll need the 10 essentials in your pack, of course, but there's no reason your child can't hike in a tutu (they're nylon and shed water!) or a tiara. If you're the elaborate type, take inspiration from this woman who hiked Mount Rainier earlier this year in one serious ballgown.
Just make sure to pack extra layers of clothing, rain gear and treats to keep your kids warm and fed. Consider bringing a thermos full of hot chocolate or soup for autumn's chilly days.
Step 3. Pick a princess, choose a hike
Washington is home to so many ecosystems with kid-friendly trails that you could hike your way through the entire Disney vault and still find more hiking to do. Use the few suggestions below as a starting place for finding some great fall hikes that will inspire a deep love of nature in your little one.
Tiana, The Princess and The Frog
Washington may not play host to a proper bayou, but we do have some very cool approximations, in the form of swamps and damp rainforests. And if you want to help build a passion for wildlife watching in your child, imagine that every frog or toad you encounter might just be a super-smart princess in disguise.
- Look for frogs in East Tiger - Silent Swamp
- Explore the wonder of the Hall of Mosses nature loop in the Hoh Rainforest (below)
Tough, outdoorsy and adventurous, Merida epitomizes a hiking princess. She spends practically all of Brave tromping around the Scottish Highlands getting dirt and leaves in her iconic hair. While the Scottish Lakes might seem like a natural choice, you'll do better to tackle a more accessible lake.
- Hike to Blue Lake (below) a 5-mile roundtrip to a stunning lake ringed by stands of golden larches.
- Barclay Lake is a great first overnight-in-the-woods backpack adventure for kids.
Ariel, The Little Mermaid
Sing, "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat," while you play a nature scavenger hunt in a city park. Or you can go the distance and head to one of the following three coastal hikes, where your little mermaid or merman can play in the tidepools, looking for their own ocean friends.
Aurora, Sleeping Beauty
The real sleeping beauty on this hike is of the volcanic kind. Views of dormant Mount Adams await the family that makes this 3-mile climb on a clear day. Sing to woodland creatures, look for lingering berries and teach your child how to stay safe in the woods on a hike to great views in southern Washington.
Leia, Star Wars
Don't forget that Princess Leia is now a Disney princess, too.
- Follow in the footsteps of forest Leia. Search out Ewoks (and intergalactic justice) on the Forest Moon of Endor, otherwise known as the Quinalt Rainforest Loop.
- Head to Central Washington's White Bluffs (below) to rescue Han Solo among the sand dunes of Tatooine.