Project Nature Blog

5 Easy Day Hikes in Western Washington

Franklin Falls
At just 2 miles round-trip with about 100 feet of elevation gain, Franklin Falls is a favorite hike for families with young children. The promise of seeing a waterfall can be a great motivator on the trail, and the rocky beach below the falls provides plenty of entertainment once you reach your destination (little ones will need supervision on slippery rocks).  The trail has plenty of shade, making Franklin Falls a popular destination on hot summer days, but it’s also a fun one to check out in the winter, when the falls form dramatic icicles!
Distance: 2 miles
Getting there: Just off I-90 near the Denny Creek Campground
Passes: Northwest Forest Pass required

Fort Ebey

Ebey’s Landing
Ebey’s Landing, just a ferry-ride away on Whidbey Island, makes a good day-trip destination for families with kids of all ages. This park has it all – trails that meander through the forest, beachcombing, and World War II-era forts to explore.  For an easy beach walk along the Bluff Trail, start at the parking lot off Ebey’s Landing Road. As your children get older (or if their energy level permits) take a longer hike by adding on the loop from the Prairie Overlook. This is a popular area for camping, as well, if you have time to make it an overnight trip.
Distance: 2-5 miles
Getting there: Outside Coupeville, on Whidbey Island
Passes: Discover pass required

Skagit Wildlife Area
Treasured as a bird refuge, visitors to this estuary along Skagit Bay may encounter migrating snow geese beginning in October as well as trumpeter and tundra swans making their journey south. Bald eagles and a variety of shorebirds make appearances at the Skagit Wildlife Area year-round.  You’ll also be rewarded with majestic views of the North Cascades. Start at the headquarters on Fir Island for a 2-mile out-and-back nature walk.
Distance: 2 miles
Getting there: Off I-5 just south of Mt. Vernon
Passes: Discover pass required

Tradition Lake Loop
For a rewarding hike through old growth forest without venturing too far from home, head to the Issaquah Alps for the Tradition Lake Loop. Unlike some of the more-challenging mountain hikes in this area, it’s possible to connect short trails around Tradition Lake for a fairly flat hike with very little elevation gain.  Because you’ll be traversing several connecting trails, be sure to bring a map along. There’s a viewing platform a short way in that offers a nice view of Tradition Lake – and a good place to give little legs a short break! 
Distance: ~3 miles
Getting there: Tiger Mountain off I-90 in Issaquah
Passes: none

Four Cedars Trail – Tolmie State Park
Easily accessible from Olympia and Tacoma, Tolmie State Park has a great beach to explore – but don’t miss the hiking trails! With just 3 miles of trails total, it doesn’t take long to experience the whole park.  The Four Cedars Trail, a 2-mile loop, is easy enough for small children and meanders through forest and coastline, with boardwalks over the marshier areas. If you’ve got energy left, check out the Sandy Beach Trail or the interpretive trail near the ranger station. 
Distance: 2 miles
Getting there: Off I-5 just south of DuPont
Passes: Discover pass required