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About Us > Adventures > Family-Friendly Car Camping and Hiking - Tinkham

Family-Friendly Car Camping and Hiking
Tinkham Discovery Trail
C.W. Schurman July 2007

On July 14, 2007 I took my 3-year-old daughter and 90-pound dog with me to meet a friend and her two daughters, aged 2 and 4, at Tinkham Creek Campground (Exit 42 off I-90 about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Turn right off I-90 and go 1.5 miles south and east to the campground). An all-girls’ weekend away, if you will. Our plan was to spend the weekend car camping, enjoying the river, and trying several short, low-key hikes in the area. Although we had to wait about 15 minutes for a camp site to vacate, it is actually hard to believe it is still possible this time of year, on a weekend, to drive up and grab an open, unreserved camp site within an hour of Seattle!

We found the following two hikes to be very kid-friendly locales with lots to explore, do, see and try.

Tinkham Discovery Trail

To get to the trail, go to the far east end of the one-way road between camp sites 8 and 10 (pit toilet is right beyond site 9 on the left) and follow a quaint trail (.5 miles round trip) that passes through second-growth forest en route to a beaver pond. The girls enjoyed looking at slugs, centipedes, lily pads on the pond, fishing floats, mushrooms and fungus, moss-covered nurse logs, and more. They clamored up tree stumps, worked their way up and through a network of horizontal (but still living) trees in a true test of their climbing skills, and navigated across a “balance beam,” thin slabs of wood in a clearing. It is a relatively flat, good early hike for toddlers-to-twos; the 3- and 4-year-old girls had no problem with it.


Sydney and Brooke practice their balancing skills on the wood rails surrounding the wheel-chair accessible clearing.


view of the dammed lake from the viewing platform at the easternmost extent of developed trail.


all three youngsters find the moss-covered network of horizontal trees too tempting to avoid. Go vertical, children!

Around-Lake-Tradition Trail, Tiger Mountain

Sunday morning we headed back toward town, stopping at Exit 20 off I-90 (20-30 minutes east of Seattle) to explore an easier trail in the Conservation Area on Tiger Mountain. It was clear that trail maintenance work had recently been done as the cedar wood chips spread everywhere smelled fresh and new. The Around-The-Lake trail that took us to Tradition Lake. Drive up through the gate and up the gravel road to the parking lot. To access the lake trail from the High Point trailhead head right past the vault toilets to reach the master trailhead map. Take the trail to the left to the "Around the Lake" trail (great signs will direct you). The path circles high above the water, bearing to the right off the gravel trail. When we visited, orange blockade fencing had been pulled aside, warning of “trail closures” at the bridge. We decided to go as far as we could and found that the trail continued on past the recently constructed (though not completely finished) bridge.

Signs along the trail tell briefly about the birds and animals that live near the lake. The girls enjoyed hunting for, picking, and tasting early-season blackberries, looking for slugs and snakes, climbing on logs for pictures, and throwing rocks into the water once we successfully made our way down to the lake’s edge. They impressed us with their climbing abilities scrambling over tree roots to return to the flatter portion of the path. We went as far as the western extent of the trail where it turns north; the entire loop is about 1.25 miles.


Sydney and Brooke hold hands as they start their adventure along the gravel path toward Around the Lake Trail.


Newly constructed bridge with Brooke racing to see what's ahead, followed closely by Sydney, while Sarah rode perched on mom Joanne's shoulders.


Brooke, Sydney and Sarah enjoy throwing sticks and rocks into the water.


Photo opportunities abound in the woods! Here is one of all three girls straddling a mossy downed tree.



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