Washington Trails Association has a wealth of information on how to choose a trail, how to set appropriate expectations when hiking with kids, and information on how to entertain kids on the trail. A key tip is to pack lots of patience and be flexible - finishing the full hike may not happen. It is about the journey, not the destination. Also, remember to bring extra clothes, water, and food when hiking with kids.
Hike Finder on the Washington Trails Association’s website uses the state’s largest database of hikes, while allowing you to search for just the right hike. Do you want mountain views or to be near a river? How far do you want to go? How much elevation gain? It’s amazing!
There are also several great hiking books to help guide you. One of my favorites is Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington and the Cascades.
A list of 10 items to have with you in case of an emergency.
Common Myth: “Being outdoors in bad weather will lead to colds, flu, etc.”
Truth: The weather doesn’t cause illness. Illnesses are caused by viruses spread from others, especially when in close quarters (indoors!).
Common Concern: “But the weather isn’t good.”
Truth: There is a saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. REI started in Seattle. They have clothing for all types of Seattle weather, as do many other Seattle outdoor outfitters! Clothing technology has come a long way since I was a child growing up in Seattle. There are now comfortable and lightweight rain proof jackets! Even pants! Hiking shoes are comfortable and some are waterproof. You can hike in rain or snow and still have warm, dry feet.
A Word on Ticks and Wildlife - it is exceedingly rare for Washington state ticks to carry Lyme disease. It is still a good idea to check for ticks and remove them after hiking. It is not common to see any wildlife that you don’t already have in your own yard. Never feed wildlife and leave the animals alone.
As they say, when you volunteer you get more back than you give. There are many ways to help protect the trails and our local wilderness areas. Consider volunteering for the Washington Trails Association, Mountains to Sound Greenway, or the many other organizations helping to preserve our part of the Pacific Northwest outdoors.
Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington and the Cascades, by Susan Elderkin