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Popular Family Hikes and Less-Crowded Alternatives Nearby

Classic hikes plus beat-the-crowd alternatives for Seattle-area families

Maegen Blue

Published on: September 09, 2021

Popular Family Hikes and Less-Crowded Alternatives Nearby

The view from Rattlesnake Ledge
The view from Rattlesnake Ledge. Credit: Daniel Stockman/Flickr CC

Rattlesnake Ledge and Cedar Butte

In the North Bend area, Rattlesnake Ledge and nearby Mount Si and Little Si are some of the most popular hiking destinations in the state. Rattlesnake Ledge is a nearly vertical climb that can be downright nerve-wracking with children. Nonetheless, on a weekend afternoon, you’ll find plenty of families climbing to the top, drawn by its convenient location and the breathtaking, panoramic view when you reach the ledge. Families who don’t want to go up can enjoy play at the lake or walk to the Cedar River Watershed Educational Center.

Length: It’s just less than 2 miles to the ledge.

Best for: We first did this hike with our older son in a backpack, but we think it’s best for sure-footed school-age or older children who can follow directions well. Do use caution at the top. The Cedar River Watershed Education Center is an excellent side trip or a fine option if you want to walk and explore with younger children.

Finding it: From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to exit 32, turning right onto 436th Avenue Southeast or Cedar Falls Road Southeast; continue to the parking lot on the right. If you’re arriving after early morning on a weekend, you’ll see cars on the side of the road for miles, and you’ll likely need to join them.

cedar butte
The view from Cedar Butte. Credit: Maegen Blue

Beat-the-crowds alternative: Cedar Butte Trail

Just across from Rattlesnake Ledge, you'll find the parking lot to the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail (formerly Iron Horse State Park Trail). This lot can get busy as well, but once you park, this spot can be your starting point for any number of less-crowded walks and hikes. Try the Cedar Butte trail, a gentle climb through the forest. While it offers just a peek-a-boo of Rattlesnake Lake, the view from its summit isn’t too shabby.

Length: From the trailhead, it’s just under 2 miles each way.

Best for: There are some limbs to navigate over, and it does gain some elevation. Most children preschool age and older should do fine on this one. But though there are fewer drop-offs than Rattlesnake Ledge, use caution here as well. 

Finding it: Follow directions for Rattlesnake Ledge above, but park in the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail lot if spaces are available. You will need a Discover Pass for this lot. From the parking lot, follow signs to the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. This first section of the trail is wide and navigable for strollers and the very youngest of hikers. You’ll cross a bridge over Boxley Creek. Shortly after, look in the forest to your right for the sign to Cedar Butte Trail. From here you’ll climb through the pleasant, shaded forest towards the top.

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