Outings + Activities | Family fun

9 Secret Urban Hikes for Seattle Kids and Families

From woodsy loops to seaside trails, perfect starter hikes for young kids

As a mother and nature-lover, I have been thinking about my son's outdoors enrichment since he was born. Now that he just turned 3, we are finally enjoying one of the Seattle area’s greatest offerings — hiking!

We started off easy and local, as I wasn’t about to commit to a long drive to the mountains only to find out I had a resistant preschooler on my hands (and in my arms!). So we have been exploring the wealth of tucked-away wild areas in the Lake Washington region, and have discovered some jewels, from short wetland walks to a 2-mile hike with significant elevation gain.

What follows are nine local trails which we’ve used as training for later summer hiking in the mountains. These trails are “secret” urban hikes — part of official city open space but not well-known. Each offers different ecosystems to explore, most are maintained by dedicated neighbors, and each trail varies in distance. The trails are listed by the area of the Lake Washington region, then from shortest to longest.

Skip to the first hike or browse all the hikes:

1. Licorice Fern Natural Area, north Seattle

2. Kingfisher Natural Area, North Seattle

3. Llandover Woods, northwest Seattle

4. Dearborn Park Natural area, south central Seattle

5. Madrona Woods, central Seattle

6. Pritchard Wetland, southeast Seattle

7. Lakeridge Park (formerly Dead Horse Canyon), south Seattle

8. Mercerdale Hillside, Mercer Island

9. O.O. Denny Park, Kirkland

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