There’s nothing quite like spending time with your loved-ones surrounded by nature, far removed from the busy-pace and distractions of everyday life. Washington’s Playground is host to pristine lakes and rivers, towering mountain ranges, old growth forests, and some of the most untouched wilderness that can still be enjoyed in the entire country. With tens of thousands of miles of trails that crisscross the region, there’s a huge variety of hiking options. No matter your desired level of activity, or preferred destination views, Washington’s Playground has the perfect hike for you and your family. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 family-friendly hikes in Washington’s Playground sorted by the towns they’re near to help you decide which will be the most enjoyable for your group. We’ll see you on the trails!
Hidden Lake – (pictured above) This is one of the most popular hikes for families looking for an easy hike with great rewards. This 1.2 mile roundtrip hike above Lake Wenatchee starts amongst old-growth cedars and takes you to a hidden nook with a little lake surrounded by big ponderosa pines. Hidden Lake a great hike for the little-ones and first time hikers since it’s a wide and well worn trail that only gains about 200 feet of elevation along the entire trip. Once you get to the lake, choose one of the many lake-side lounging spots, sit back, and enjoy. Earlier in the summer, enjoy the sounds of cascading creeks that feed into the lake as snow melt runs down the steep slopes of the nearby Nason Ridge. Fall may be the best time to visit though, as the lake is surrounded by red and gold fall colors.
Icicle Gorge Trail – (picture above) The Icicle Gorge Trail is a popular trail along a tight gorge with towering ridgelines carved by the Icicle River. 15 miles outside of Leavenworth, this well-beaten path follows the river, passing intense rapids and calm pools, through a diverse forest of conifers. Interpretive trail signs add interest and provide insight, while wild huckleberries tempt the tastebuds. The hike offers excellent views of the gorge, massive water-carved boulders, wildlife, and the surrounding peaks of the cascades. The entire loop trail is 4 miles roundtrip.
Saddle Rock Trail – (pictured above) Overlook all of Wenatchee and the Columbia River from this towering viewpoint just outside of town. Winding up to the 2000 foot summit dotted with craggy pointed rocks, the trail follows an old road most of the way to the top. The 2 mile roundtrip hike leads you to a landmark ridgeline that sits between two side-by-side peaks just to the southwest of Wenatchee. This is easily one of the most popular hikes in the Wenatchee area due to the ease of access to such amazing panoramic views of the valley down below. Pack a snack, plenty of water, and a camera. If you’re able to make this a late afternoon or evening event, the temperatures will be lower and the colorful sunset views will be spectacular.
NEAR LAKE CHELAN
Chelan River Reach 1 Trail – The Reach 1 Trail is a 3-mile-plus roundtrip walk that overlooks the Chelan Dam, Lake Chelan and the Chelan River. It takes visitors from the Riverwalk Loop Trail in downtown Chelan to Reach 1 of the Chelan River – the uppermost section of a 4-mile river that flows down to join the Columbia River at Chelan Falls. The first 0.5 mile section of trail is paved and accessible to all. Along this part of the trail, visitors will learn about the Chelan Dam, which provides enough clean, renewable hydropower to supply about 30,000 average Northwest homes. The lower section of the trail, 1.1 miles long, is gravel and winds through the natural riverbanks. Visitors will enjoy learning about the American Indian Tribes that inhabited the Chelan Valley, the wildlife in the various reaches of the Chelan River and about the unique geology where basalt cliffs form a treacherous, narrow gorge for the river as it nears the Columbia.
Little Bear Trail – The 2.3 mile round trip Little Bear Trail in Lake Chelan State Park is an easy loop trail that winds through dry savanna and dips through a cool pine forest. It crosses over two small brooks in the spring and fall, and is a great family hike for all ages. The trail does have a fork in it at which point it splits into two different trails. Head right to follow the “forest” trail and walk through cool pine forests, or head left to the “bitterbrush” trail which is a little longer and slightly more scenic.