Our family pretty religiously does an annual Memorial Day weekend camping trip. Yet we haven’t otherwise been getting out of the city very much – in recent years especially, but mostly thanks to sports, playdates and diy home projects. Maybe it was an inherent need to reset, or just an excuse to avoid weekend cleaning, but for this Saturday I called an audible and put the fam on track for what I hoped would be an easy day hike to Coal Creek Falls at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park, 17 miles outside of Seattle.
Now truthfully, I was already outside my wheelhouse in even thinking this because it’s usually hubs that plans most of our outdoor excursions. I’m more of a curl up with a book of any type kind of girl. But despite – or because of – a return to schools, sports, and curated gatherings with family and friends, I felt we all needed a dose of nature.
So after the BigKid returned from baseball practice, we loaded up with sandwiches, water, and snacks, and hit the road for what I hoped would be the perfect quick afternoon getaway hike for our family of 5 +2 dogs! Now, since it had been awhile since we’d hiked, we also shamelessly bribed them with the promise of treats from King Donut at the end of the day’s journey. It had been awhile, but this was not our first rodeo.
The 35-minute drive east was uneventful since one read, one slept and one multitasked reading and listening to music. The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived around 2 pm, but along the trail we only saw roughly 15-20 people, likely thanks to the myriad trails this location features.
We started on Old Man’s Trail and, having never been before, meandered across the former Nike Missile Base. MidKid thought this was cool, as were some of the large depressions that may or may not have been cave holes that I kept calling coal holes and which serve as topographical remnants of the area’s 100-year-old mining history.
With reminders to “stay on the path!” we got on the Nike Horse Trail briefly, then veered right going somewhat downhill on Cave Hole Trail, which was a bit mucky but pretty wide and easy to traverse. We walked until signs showed us we could turn left onto the narrower Coal Creek Falls Trail, that would lead right to our water destination.
Once at the falls, a sweet little bridge made for good kid photo ops, and we could scramble over some boulders to get right up by the 28-ft(??) falls. A few groups of families and couples with dogs circled around – each maintaining distance while soaking up some of the space only places like this can serve up.
A few more pics and a pause to divvy out sustenance in the form of fruit snacks, then we wound our way back up to the trailhead to complete our 2.5-mile hike. It was brief but lovely and much needed. We’re definitely doing that again to explore more of the trails!