When 2020 began, we were just back from our 3-week holiday to South Africa, we were jet-lagged, and we had absolutely no idea of what was yet to come. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Yet, we started the year as we always do; full of hope of a year filled with the promise of adventure. Then COVID emerged its ugly head, and quarantine came into play. Plans were derailed, events were rescheduled, and we were forced to look within ourselves for strength and willpower. Ryan and I have always wanted to take our kids hiking, but there never seemed to be a “right time.” They were too young, or it was too rainy, or it was just too far away. When the world turned upside down, we decided to change our perspective, and we went for that big goal, hiking with our kids and diving in with eager hearts and minds. And you know what? They (and we) love it. As we approach 2021, I wanted to share our 5 favorite short hikes we 2020 and why we loved them.
Our 5 Favorite Short Hikes of 2020
Our theme of 2020 and getting in the hiking groove was a mix of challenging, fun, and beautiful…bonus points if the hike had a lake to jump in. Emmons Moraine delivered tenfold. From the milky turquoise water to the gradual incline through the forest towards the glacier, this trail was nothing short of stunning. The challenge came into play with a step, rocky descent to the water, but we were all rewarded with a dip, and it was awesome.
Fast Facts: 3 miles // No dogs // Easy // America the Beautiful Pass required
Naches Peak Loop
We all agreed that Naches Peak Loop was one of our most memorable hikes of the year because it never stopped blowing our minds with its spectacular vistas and beauty. We took our time admiring Tipsoo Lake, not knowing just how much better it would get as we climbed. We stopped for lunch along the way, and the boys were awe-inspired by the epic views of Rainier on the way towards the end of the loop. It was well worth the long(er) drive!
Fast Facts: 3.3 miles // No dogs // Easy // America the Beautiful Pass required
This one was a pretty spur-of-the-moment kind of hike, as we were in Oregon spending a camping trip with our good friends near Mount St. Helens. While were only there for one night, we couldn’t say no to the prospect of walking through Lava Canyon and later exploring the lava tubes, as well. The boys loved how simple the trail was, and they loved that they could climb around the rocks with Daddy to see the water better. It was gorgeous and a reminder of how the Earth healed after the eruption.
Fast Facts: 5.4 miles // Dogs allowed on leash // Easy // Northwest Forest Pass required
Staircase Rapids Loop
This was one of our more recent hikes, and we really enjoyed it because it was such a change from all our beautifully dry summer hikes. Staircase Rapids Loop was dark, misty, heavily forested, cold, and wet, and it was amazing! We went with our friends the Hinojosas (basically our quarantine friends all year), and the kids loved exploring the little details along the way. We all agreed that it was worth the extra drive because yes, we totally got lost on our way. Don’t trust your GPS on this one!
Fast Facts: 2.1 miles // No dogs // Easy // America the Beautiful Pass required
Snow Lake Trail
While a bit more rugged than some of our other hikes, Snow Lake Trail is one of those that hits short and fast. There’s a nice, gradual incline towards the start, then you climb, and you emerge from the trees into a beautiful valley with peaks on every side of you. You can combine this one with Bench Lake, but we chose to stick to Snow Lake, traversing a good way around and diving in. This was SO cold, but we definitely welcomed the dip as we warmed up on the hike back down!
Fast Facts: 2.7 miles // No dogs // Easy-Moderate // America the Beautiful Pass required
We stuck to shorter hikes for the most part this year because we wanted the kids to get comfortable on their two feet, learn to hike properly, and invest in the right gear. Our hope before we PCS in 2021 is to start tackling longer hikes and challenge ourselves to hit new heights (literally)! Reflecting on our 5 favorite short hikes really invigorates us to continue adventuring as we head into the new year, too. We may not go quite the route of Lake Serene for a while, but we’re so proud of our littles embracing this life outside!
Tell me – did you do any hikes or adventures this year that you absolutely loved?