Child Friendly Hiking Trails Near I-90

Like so much of Washington State, the I-90 area of Western Washington is packed with wonderful scenery, amazing views and of course, fabulous hiking trails.

If you enjoy a good hike, and especially if you intend to hike with your children (which is what this newsletter is all about), then you can't go wrong with any of the fantastic hiking options along Interstate 90.

Below are a few of my favorites for you and your family.  As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.  I am here to help, and would love to assist you in finding and suggesting the perfect hike for you!

Most trailheads require either or a Discover Pass or NW Forest Pass. Be sure to obtain one before your trip.

Rattlesnake Ledge

This is a trail that is accessible all year round. No parking passes required. It is very busy on weekends. I now limit going there to weekdays. The hike is 4 miles total round trip. 1160 feet elevation gain. From the parking lot, go through the gate and walk the gravel road 0.25 mile to the west side of Rattlesnake Lake. A trail-head monument marks the beginning of the hike and there are porta-potties there. The hike is a steady uphill with lots of hairpin turns. You will be rewarded for your efforts at the top with magnificent views. Do be very careful at the top. There are steep cliffs all around and people and dogs have lost their lives there. Hang onto children and leash your dogs.

Driving directions

Go East on I 90 to  EXIT 32 436th Ave. Take this exit. At the stop sign turn RIGHT and go up a small windy hill traveling on 436th Ave. The road turns into Cedar Falls Rd. Keep going. The road will end in a park with a small parking lot on the right side.

Talapus and Olallie Lakes

This moderate hike is very popular with first time backpackers and families with children. The trail begins on an overgrown logging road through an old clear-cut, enters forest shade and switchbacks up a hillside to a marshy area below Talapus Lake. Paths here branch in several directions. The main trail crosses the outlet on a bridge and at 2.0 miles comes to Talapus Lake (a good stopping point). The trail continues 1.25 miles to Olallie Lake.

Driving directions
I-90 to exit #45 Bandera. At the stop sign turn north. Turn left on Road #9030. Follow Road #9030 for 0.75 mile and turn right at the junction, following Road #9030 uphill to the trailhead at the end of the road.

Denny Creek Slippery Slab

2 ½ miles, 500’, 50 minute round trip.

A really fun destination in the beginning of summer when the creek is still running. Water-smoothed slabs of rock provide hours of fun to slip and slide on.

Driving directions
I-90 on exit 47, “Denny Creek”. Cross the freeway to Denny Creek Road, Turn east passing under the freeway and continue 3 miles to Denny creek Campground. Just pass it, turn left on a road over a river and follow it to the road-end parking lot. There is a restroom and you do need a NW Forest Pass to park there.


Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls can be reached along with a remnant of the historic Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road by taking I-90 exit 47 and turning north of the freeway, then right on Denny Creek Road for just over 3 miles.

Two trails lead to the 70-foot falls. A treat for kids to play in! On the south side of I-90 exit 47 is the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail with spectacular old-growth trees and a mountain stream. A Northwest Forest Pass or daily $5 parking fee is required at trailheads. 2 miles allow 2 hours 200 feet elevation gain.


Twin Falls

Twin Falls area is famed for the most scenic and kid friend path along I-90, a perfect year-round spot to enjoy a magnificent Northwest forest and river. The trail passes through moss-covered and fern-hung trees, a cathedral of old forest beside a murmuring river, and then ascends to a footbridge spanning a canyon and falls.

From the lower Twin Falls trailhead, it is about three miles round trip with 500 feet elevation gain. It is the same mileage and elevation for the upper Twin Falls trailhead. The maps are Green Trails No. 206 Bandera, No. 206s Mount Washington.

Driving Directions
Lower Twin Falls Trailhead I90 East to exit 34 “468th Avenue. Turn right (south) on 468 Ave SE .5 miles. Just before crossing the river, go left on SE 159th St. In .5 mile is the road end parking, restrooms and trailhead. Need NW Forest Pass.


Scenic Hikes and Other Options around Twin Falls

For the most scenic hike, begin from the lower trailhead in the park, which includes the Twin Falls Natural Area. It is only 1.5 miles to the state-of-the-art bridge over the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River and views of Twin Falls. Those wanting to go further can include the overlook at the upper falls. Beyond the upper falls, the trail connects to the Iron Horse Trail and you can hike as far as time, conditions and energy allow. The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad grade was once part of the longest electric-powered railroad line in the world. It was in operation between 1908 and 1980.

Another option is to start from the upper Twin Falls trailhead. It is 1.6 miles to the falls from either trailhead. From the upper trailhead, hike up a short trail from the parking area to the Iron Horse Trail and turn right. If you turn left (east) you will come to Deception Crags, a popular climbing area. A short distance beyond the climbing rocks, the railroad grade crosses Hall Creek on a new bridge that replaces a missing trestle.

Yet another option is to leave a second car at the upper trailhead for a one-way hike of about four miles. For an even longer hike (or bike ride), begin from the trailhead at Rattlesnake Lake, elevation 970 feet. If you start from Rattlesnake Lake, visit the Cedar River Watershed Education Center. The complex is a showpiece. The center was designed by artists and is an impressive display of nature, history and art.

Upper Twin Falls Trailhead

From I-90 eastbound, take Exit 38, cross the Snoqualmie River on a bridge and turn right to the parking lot for Twin Falls and Olallie State Park, elevation 1,200 feet.

Weeks Falls and picnic area, Olallie State Park

From I-90 eastbound, get off at Exit 38, cross the Snoqualmie River, then turn left and drive to the park and picnic area (it is .6 miles east of the parking lot for the Twin Falls trail). Cedar Falls: Take Exit 32 from I-90 eastbound, turn right onto 436th Avenue Southeast (this becomes Cedar Falls Road). Continue on the road for about three miles until you come to the well-marked parking area or to the Cedar River Watershed Education Center at the end of the Cedar Falls Road (about five miles).

John Wayne Pioneer Trail

John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Iron Horse State Park is the backbone of the Greenway trail system. This former Milwaukee Road railway bed includes spectacular scenery, campsites and a 2.3-mile rail tunnel under Snoqualmie Pass. From the western terminus at Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend and just south of I-90, the hiking, biking, equestrian and cross-country ski trail heads east all the way across the state.

Access points are Rattlesnake Lake (I-90 exit 32), Olallie State Park (I-90 exit 38), McClellan Butte (I-90 exit 42), Annette Lake (I-90 exit 47), Hyak (I-90 exit 54), Lake Easton (I-90 exit 71) and Cle Elum (I-90 exit 84).

State Park parking fees are in effect, and you can pay the daily $5 at each trailhead. Annual Washington State Parks passes and more information are available from Washington State Parks.

Call 360-902-8844 to request a John Wayne Pioneer Trail map.

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