6 Family-Friendly Hikes in Seattle Perfect for a Thanksgiving Outing

There's no better way to work up an appetite for turkey than by hiking through lush Pacific Northwest scenery.
There's no better way to work up an appetite for turkey than by hiking through lush Pacific Northwest scenery. Thomas Shahan
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Thanksgiving is all about celebrating family, bonding with loved ones, and, of course, eating until you practically explode. Going on a low-key walk or hike that everyone can enjoy is a great way to get in that quality family time while also working up an appetite. Whether you want to stay right in the city or go on a short excursion out of town, Seattle has heaps of paths and trails to hit on Turkey day this year. Here, six of our top recommendations for family-friendly hikes in Seattle that are perfect for a Thanksgiving outing. The pumpkin pie afterward will taste all the sweeter for it.

1. Discovery Park

The lighthouse at Discovery Park’s beach is a great Thanksgiving Day destination. Seattle Municipal Archives

A refuge of wilderness in the middle of the city, Discovery is one of Seattle’s most loved parks. The most popular route through it is the 2.8-mile “Discovery Park Loop,” a trail that travels through forests of both coniferous and deciduous trees, which will still be flecked with fall’s golden glow. The best part is the bluffs overlooking the water, from which you will be able to take in glorious views of Puget Sound.

2) Seward Park

On a clear day, Seward Park offers some of the best views available in the city. Andrew Hitchcock

This 277-acre park encompasses the entire Bailey Peninsula, which juts into Lake Washington from the city’s southeast side. A 2.4-mile paved loop circuits around the park and, on a clear day, offers some of the best views available in the city. Walking the Seward Park Loop counter-clockwise, you’ll first encounter Mount Rainier to the south, then Mercer Island across Lake Washington to the east, and the downtown’s skyscrapers to the north. There is also a network of dirt trails through evergreen trees in the middle of the park.

3) Green Lake

The loop around Green Lake’s perimeter is one of the most popular walks in the city. Hammerin Man

The 2.8-mile paved path that circles around Green Lake’s calm water is the perfect distance for a pre-turkey stroll. Several docks along the way make for good stopping points to pause and take in the lake. For a longer walk, or just for a change of scenery, check out the adjacent Woodland Park, which offers some short dirt trails that weave between the conifers.

4) Carkeek Park

The train overpass, which leads to the beach at Carkeek Park, is a great place to watch the sunset. Wonderlane

Located in northwest Seattle, Carkeek Park is another green gem nestled within the city’s bounds. The park contains a total of six miles of trails—one of the best routes is the 3.5-mile hike that runs along Piper’s Creek. The portion of this trail from the lower meadow to piper’s orchard and the Wetland Trial are ADA accessible, so this is a hike that everyone can take part in. Save some time to explore the beach after the walk, too—it’s a fantastic spot to watch the sunset.

5) Rattlesnake Ledge

Pro tip: bring a thermos full of tea or hot chocolate to sip on while enjoying the views from Rattlesnake Ledge. Samantha Larson

If you’re in the mood for something more than just a causal stroll (after all, you’ve got a big dinner coming up!), try Rattlesnake Ledge. Less than an hour’s drive from the city, near North Bend, it will make for a great excursion to pass the time while the turkey roasts. It is a four-mile round trip hike that climbs up 1,160 feet to the ledge, a scenic viewpoint on the east ridge of Rattlesnake Mountain surrounded by the Issaquah Alps and Rattlesnake Lake below.

6. Wallace Falls

Each of the waterfalls at Wallace Falls State Park are stunning. Vineesh Devasia

Wallace Falls is an easy-to-reach 5.6-mile round-trip hike that serves up a classic Pacific Northwest landscape seasoned with sword ferns, mosses, and evergreens—and three gushing waterfalls for dessert. Many people turn back at the “middle falls,” a point to which the trail is relatively level and well maintained, making it a family-friendly adventure everyone can have a good time on. But those with some extra energy to expend can continue the last section, the steepest part of the trail, to the upper falls. The views from the top will give you plenty to feel thankful for.

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