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Outdoor Fun

One of my personal passions is sharing my love of the outdoors and helping families get outside to play. The benefits of getting kids and families outdoors are plentiful and we are lucky to be living in such an outdoor wonderland. Here are some of my favorite places to go:

Hikes near Seattle for families with young children:

Gold Creek Pond: This is a great, paved, mostly flat 3 mile loop hike with beautiful scenery. This hike has a picnic area and is well enough maintained to bring a stroller. Easy hike. The hike is located off I-90 exit 54, near Hyak. Google for directions.

Mirror Lake: This is a great 2 mile RT hike that leads to a beautiful alpine lake. It's amazing something so beautiful can be accessed only 1 mile in and so close to Seattle. Easy to moderate level hike. The hike is located off I-90 exit 62. Google for directions.

Denny Creek Natural Waterslide: This is a very cool hike for children. It's about 1.25 miles in and not too steep. The water coming down the creek has made the rocks smooth over time, great for sliding down on a hot summer day. Bring bathing suits and towels and supervise children closely. Access via I-90, exit 47. Google for directions.

Franklin Falls: This is a great hike out of the same parking lot as the Denny Creek Waterslide hike. The 70 foot falls are impressive and kids can enjoy the spray and monkey around in the water. About 2 miles RT, easy hike. I have seen fishermen catch small trout here. Access via I-90, exit 47. Google for directions.

Twin Falls State Park: This hike may not be as spectacular as the ones listed above, but it is accessible year-round whereas the others may be snow covered through June. It's a beautiful hike along a river, which then winds up a hill to a beautiful waterfall. RT 4 miles. Access vis I-90, exit 34. Google for directions.

Really fun family hikes that are a bit of a drive from Seattle:

Nisqually Vista Trail: This might just be the coolest hike in WA for the smallest of small hikers. It's a 1.2 loop trail at Mt. Rainier that gives you a birdseye view of the Nisqually Glacier. Go toward the end of July and see the wildflowers in all their glory, and if you're lucky, some deer. This is an easy, paved trail, accessible from Paradise. Google for directions.

Myrtle Falls: Also at Mt. Rainier, check out Myrtle Falls, which is only .6 miles from the Paradise Inn. It's an easy paved trail with a stunning view of a waterfall with Mt. Rainier in the background. Grab an ice cream cone at the Inn after the hike.

For more hiking information, trail reports and directions visit WA Trails Association at http://www.wta.org/.

Great Campouts for Families with Small Kids

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is camp with the kids. There are some incredible places around and the kids love it. Some of our favorite places:

-Cape Disappointment State Park

-Cougar Rock Campground at Mt. Rainier

-Deception Pass State Park

-Dosewallips State Park at Hood Canal

-Salt Creek Recreation Area

Reservations at these parks often need to be made 6-9 months in advance. Check each website for details.