Hikes with Kids

A family affair, naturally

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

If you loved hiking pre-kids, but now have a family and have put the skids on those outings, Susan Elderkin’s Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington will inspire you to get back on the trails—albeit with modified expectations.

Offering 125 hikes that will appeal to kids from toddlers to grade schoolers, Elderkin knows all about mid-hike tantrums and car rides peppered with whining. But she also knows how well-chosen excursions can connect and energize a family, inspire children with the beauty and wonder of nature, and instigate what will hopefully become a lifelong pastime.

Published by Mountaineers Books just in time for celebrating Earth Day by heading into nature, Elderkin has done the groundwork for the guidebook on a series of trails from Birch Bay to the Oregon border, Snoqualmie Pass and Leavenworth, to the Olympic National Forest.

Her preface is full of handy tips designed to make a hike more successful—from gear to snacks to setting expectations ahead of time. Whatcom, Skagit, and Island counties are a bit underrepresented—with just a handful of hikes in Bellingham, Anacortes, and Mt. Baker—but there are plenty more to be found nearby in Seattle, Tacoma, Deception Pass, on Stevens Pass toward Leavenworth, and around Mt. Rainier.

Many hikes are represented in photographs from Elderkin’s trips with her family, and all contain a map of the actual route and directions to the site. Her descriptions of the destinations are well-written and catchy, offering glimpses of what you’ll see and how the site has changed. Of Woodard Bay Conservation Area, for example, she notes “There is a good chance you’ll see or hear something that flies, swims or slithers during your visit.”

In the front of her guide, Elderkin highlights best hikes in different categories—for swimming, waterfall sighting, history, wildlife and berry picking. Sections on plant safety, trail etiquette and nature-based toileting can be found, as can icons indicating routes highlighted for their stroller accessibility, dog friendliness or other features.

Each hike includes a how-to-get-there section with GPS coordinates, distance, level of difficulty, elevation and when to go. Information about the trail itself, what to look for and what makes it fun and unique are also included.

Page through this primer and you’ll want to pull your hiking boots on and get out on a trail. From Ape Cave on the Cascades’ west slope to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest, where trees are buried in basalt, there are a plethora of great ideas that will inspire wonder and make for fun, fascinating outdoor family adventures.

Elderkin is to be commended for assembling a handy guide to hiking with young kids, making this publication a useful resource for any Western Washington family eager to explore their great outdoors—on Earth Day or any day.

*Photo by Eugene Lee

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