Getting Kids Out Into Nature

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Category Archives: Hikes

Little Si TR – 4/14/17

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Through the Greenery

Our friend Cindy and her 4 dogs joined us on Friday for a great hike up Little Si. This knob sits on the side of Mt. Si, and provides a great workout for little legs without the steep slog up the larger peak. You’ll still get wide views and a wild feel, even though you’re just on the edge of town.

We were surprised that we got some of the last spots in the parking lot when we arrived at around 10:30 on Friday morning. But then we remembered it’s Spring Break for some schools, so it made sense there were lots of folks out on a weekday. There is an overflow lot before you get to the main lot, but these parking areas fill up early on weekends and holidays. Because it was Spring Break, Gabe’s friend D was able to come along, as well.

We had left the sunshine behind in Seattle and driven into the gloom of foothill clouds. It was cool, and we were prepared for rain but hoped for sunshine. This trail climbs immediately out of the parking lot.

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This Kid Finds Every Puddle

You’ll get your blood pumping early. Soon you’re up above the road noise and moving into the forest. There is a small viewpoint partway up this section.

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Lower Viewpoint Looking Toward Cedar River Watershed and Rattlesnake Mountain

Eventually the grade eases as the trail traverses the shelf in between Mt. Si and Little Si. We thought this area was particularly pretty, with green moss glowing madly, salmonberry and other deciduous shrubs leafing out, and a small stream that crosses the trail.

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Dogs Looking After Boys
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Beautiful Stream

We saw a few trilliums, shy on the forest floor, and I saw the first yellow violets of the season. Magenta salmonberry blossoms brought a pop of color to the otherwise quiet landscape. We traipsed through a lot of mud on this trail (this seems to be a theme this spring!) and were happy for gaiters and poles and waterproof boots.

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Annika with Sweet Tara

We stopped a little over a mile in to have a snack and rest our feet, then continued on to where the trails starts climbing again. As it ascends the back side of Little Si, the path gets steeper and more rocky and rooted.

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The Trail Gets Steep and Rocky

Cindy had quite a time keeping the dogs from pulling too fast or getting stuck on tree roots or wound around trees. Little children will need lots of help and hand holding on this last section. Soon we had made it to the top, where we got some great views of the fresh snow on Mt. Si and the valley and peaks to the south.

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Fresh Snow on Mt. Si
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Gabe on Top of Little Si

We ate our lunch up on top, dodging rain drops, and trying not to get chilled. Keep a close eye on children and teens here, as there are some steep dropoffs at the top.

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Bench Mark, Little Si

I really felt my body temperature dropping after about a half an hour. I’m not happy with the breathability of my rain coat, as it had left my base layer damp with sweat. I layered up a bit and we put our lunches away and headed back down to the cars. I was glad to have had my thin gloves and hat along, as well as an extra wool sweater.

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Looking to the southeast

It makes such a difference having friends and dogs along on our hikes. There was no complaining and no bickering. We made it down in one pitch with no stopping. We were happy to make it back to the car. I wished I had brought extra clothes for Annika and clean shoes for all of us. My kids were also craving salty snacks, which I hadn’t packed either. But we didn’t use the extra water I had carried the whole way up and down.

This is a neat hike for when you don’t feel like heading too far up into the mountains, or for when there is still snow up high. Expect crowds and a good workout.

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Looking Northwest

If You Go: Little Si is 4.7 miles RT and 1300 feet elevation gain. You’ll need your Discover Pass to park at this park (I didn’t notice a place to buy one at the parking lot.) If you go on a weekend, just be aware that the parking may be full and there is no street parking allowed around there. Have an alternate hike in mind in case there is no parking. Also, there is a shuttle system in the summer from North Bend that has run on weekends; I couldn’t find info for this year to link here, so if you’re reading this in the summer, take a minute and research yourself if you think this is an option for you. There is an outhouse at the parking area, but no water or other amenities.

Driving Directions: Drive I-90 east from Seattle and take the exit for 436th Ave SE in North Bend. Turn left at the exit. Turn left on SE North Bend Way. After about 0.3 miles, turn right onto SE Mt. Si Road. You’ll cross a big red bridge over a river. Look for the parking lot on the left of the road. (You’ll pass the overflow lot first; the main lot is about 1/4 mile past this.)

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Jelly Cup Fungus

Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

I recently had the chance to drop my kids off with Grandma in the South Sound, and I had the afternoon free to do a hike by myself. Since I was already down there, I thought I should check out a new trail for the website. I picked Tolmie State Park, northwest of Olympia on…Continue Reading

Semiahmoo Park – Trip Report, 3/10/17

We recently took an afternoon and drove up to Semiahmoo Spit near Blaine to do some birding and check out a new-to-us trail. Semiahmoo Spit is a long sand spit that protects Drayton Harbor. Historically this area was used by Native Americans for harvesting natural resources, and it became an abundant salmon canning area after…Continue Reading

Urban Trails: Kitsap by Craig Romano – Book Review

Many of you are familiar with Craig Romano, the prolific and energetic guidebook writer for Washington State. We use his books all the time to plan our hikes to wild and scenic locations. But it’s not always easy to get out to true wilderness. With iffy weather, packed schedules, family illnesses – sometimes we need…Continue Reading

Pete Lake Backpack, 8/20-21, 2106

Way back in August, Gabe had a camping trip near Salmon La Sac with the teen group at our church. I was ferrying boys up there for one night, so I thought I’d take advantage of the weekend and explore a trail I hadn’t been on before. I asked around for people to come with…Continue Reading

Gold Creek Pond Snowshoes, Day and Night (December 2016)

In December, we made two trips to Gold Creek Pond for snowshoeing. The first was a normal day-time trip, and the other was our second-annual twilight year-end snowshoe. We did both trips with our friend Cindy and her dogs. The first trip was after a large amount of powder had fallen, and the snow was…Continue Reading

Little Cranberry Lake Trip Report – 11/25/16

Even before REI made #OptOutside an event, we have tried for several years to get out into nature on the day after Thanksgiving. This year, Annika was fighting a cold, and I was pretty worn out myself, so we slept in and rested up. In the afternoon, I took Gabe up to Anacortes for a…Continue Reading

Rattlesnake Ridge Winter Hike – 1/2/17

We went on our first hike of the New Year yesterday, up to Rattlesnake Ledge. We had originally planned on snowshoeing, but the forecast in the mountains and on the east side of the crest were for temps in the teens and windchill below zero. That really didn’t sound fun, so we picked a hike closer…Continue Reading

Big Rock Park and Ebright Park, Sammamish

Annika and I went on an local outing on Friday. We wanted to explore some of the parks on the east side of the metro area. We also wanted to check out some nature play areas as we research ideas for adding a new play area to our school. I had heard good things about…Continue Reading