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Explore Washington With Every Kid in a Park

Posted by Loren Drummond at Oct 07, 2015 08:55 AM |
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A new national initiative will connect fourth graders and their families with their federal public lands for free this year. Below are tips to help fourth graders get the pass, and for all families to get out and enjoy federal lands in the coming year.

Last month, Washington Trails Association helped launch Every Kid in a Park, a new national initiative to connect fourth graders and their families with the trails, wildlife, resources, and history on federal public lands for free this year.

Below are a few tips to help fourth graders get the pass, and for all families to get out and enjoy federal lands in the coming year.

How it works

Get outside on federal lands this fall

Washington has an abundance of trail and hiking opportunities that cross all kinds of public lands, from city parks to county parks, and from state lands to federal lands. Different lands have different goals, and knowing what land you are on helps you know a lot more about the place, including what the basic rules and permits for hiking it are.

The Every Kid in a Park pass will come in handy on Washington's federal lands, the majority of which are National Forest and National Park lands. Washington also has public lands managed by the Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management.

Take a walk in the woods on a National Forest

Washington has six National Forests, listed below, full of great fall family adventures. You can use your Every Kid in a Park pass at the trailheads that require a National Forest pass. (Not all trailheads on National Forests require a pass.)

Lewis River Falls
The Upper Falls at Lewis River Falls. Photo by Cliff birdsall.

Mt.-Baker Snoqualmie National Forest

  • The Old Sauk River Trail is one of those family-friendly trails that is more enjoyable in fall and winter, rain or shine.
  • Until the snow starts to fall the trails high on the slopes of Mount Baker Hwy are a terrific to take in a fall family outing. Try the Bagley Lakes Loop, or, for with more experienced kids, check out the trail to Dock Butte Lookout.

Olympic National Forest

  • On the Ranger Hole - Interrorem Nature Trail, you can hike from an historic ranger station to the fishing hole where Ranger Emery Finch used to fish for his dinner. It's a beautiful, easy hike, and the interpretive trail provides excellent educational opportunities as well.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

  • Take the Lewis River Falls Trail to a series of falls that make it easy for hikers of all abilities to put their eyes on something cool. Glowing fall foliage lines the trail, and your kiddos can watch for bold kayakers.

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

  • Goat Peak Lookout offers views of peaks and golden larches, as well as the commanding views you'd expect of a working fire lookout. Though steep at times, the trail's short length makes it a perfect hike to introduce kids and newer hikers to the grandeur of the Methow and North Cascades.

Colville National Forest

  • Sullivan Lake, a family-friendly playground in summer, offers the added benefit of aspens turning gold and orange in fall.

Explore a National Park

Get a National Park adventure without even leaving the city at the Klondike Gold Rush National Park in downtown Seattle. The rangers here can help hook you up with a pass and help you figure out where else you might want to explore in the year ahead.

In North Cascades National Park, visit Thunder Knob, a short little hike to spectacular views.

Olympic National Park

  • Visit Glines Canyon Overlook Trail, and show your kids the incredible story of the dam removal on the Elwha River.
  • Get a sense of our rainforest by visiting the Hoh River. One of the best reasons to visit in fall is your chance to spot some of the local Roosevelt Elk population.

The opportunities to visit Mount Rainier National Park in fall abound, but also depend on when the snows begin to fall. For adventures to span the seasons, visit the Longmire gate up to  Paradise, where families can catch flaming fall foliage or play in the snow. (Tip: when the snows start falling, you may need chains on your car and be sure to check the road status before you go.)

Check out some serious wildlife at a National Wildlife Refuge

Our state features 21 National Wildlife Refuges, most of which offer hiking or walking opportunities.

A couple of our favorites for families are Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney and Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.