Washington, the insanely beautiful PNW. My bucket list in the evergreen state is infinite, but I’m super pleased to have checked off at least a few experiences on my list with this latest trip. Having 3 kids has definitely changed the dynamic of camping for us. If it were up to me, you would never see me at a campground because I prefer the solitude of backpacking a million times over car camping. BUT, considering that we have 3 children under the age of 5, car camping is really the only option for us at the moment… so we make it work! There were a lot of highs and lows on this trip including, a tour of “Campgrounds That I Wouldn’t Recommend” and also gorgeous hikes that made all of the struggles completely worth it. This entire guide is kid-friendly – we traveled with our 10 month old, 3 year old, and 5 year old.
So pack your bug spray, because we are headed into the lush climate of Washington. Let’s get to it!
The Nitty Gritty
Duration: 10 days
Mileage: Roughly 1,189 miles roundtrip
Beaverton – Drop off dog at pet sitter
Silver Springs Campground – 1 night
Money Creek Campground – 2 nights
Leavenworth – Day Trip
Tinkham Campground – 2 nights
DETOUR to Aberdeen, Quinalt Lake was cancelled due to an emergency
Coho Campground – 2 nights
Portland – 1 night
Silver Springs Campground
Our first official night of our big 2021 road trip! This was Emrys’ first night camping, so needless to say we were a bit nervous about our first night. And rightfully so, because I think this night was literally one of the worst nights of our trip.
The campground itself was alright. Again, I don’t love car camping, so my reviews will never top the charts, but here are the basics.
Pros: Clean bathrooms, flush toilets, accessible water, relatively spacious sites, located in Mt. Rainier National Park.
Cons: The campground is situated right next to the highway and we could hear traffic all night.
Other pros: We could hardly hear the traffic due to the fact that Emrys was screaming his head off all throughout the night. Apologies to all of our neighboring campers.
We chose this campground based on its proximity to the hike we had planned for the next day. A quick 20 minute drive brought us to my favorite hike out of the entire trip, Tipsoo Lake + Naches Peak Loop.
Tipsoo Lake + Naches Peak Loop
Length: 3.3 miles
Elevation: 636 ft
Route Type: Loop
Tips: Hike clockwise, go during late July to see an abundance of wildflowers
An absolutely stunning hike with gorgeous views at every turn. We went right at the peak of the wildflowers blooming (late July), which made the hike all the more magical!
Money Creek Campground
Literally one of THE WORST campgrounds I have ever experienced. It is a deceivingly beautiful location, covered in moss and ferns, straight from a fairy tale book. Unfortunately, there is a train track that runs right along the campground. This train is LOUD. And not only that, it runs ALL hours of the night. From 8pm – 8am, the train comes through at least half a dozen times. It also blares its horn as it passes the campground!
Pitstop: Espresso Chalet
On the way to Money Creek, along the Stevens Pass Highway you will find Highway 2’s longest standing espresso stand. You will also be greeted by 14′ tall Harry from the movie Harry and the Hendersons. If you have time to spare, this route will also take you through Seattle, a city that’s definitely worth exploring!
Barclay Lake Hike
Another gorgeous hike that delivers classic moody PNW vibes.
Length: 4.3 miles
Elevation: 387 ft.
Route Type: Out and Back
Highlights: Lots of great spots to picnic on the lakeshore, great backpacking destination for beginners and children
Be warned: The drive is BUMPY. The road is not well maintained and it will take time to get to the trailhead. But worth the effort!
What a fun little town! This Bavarian themed town is nestled in the mountains and sits along the Wenatchee River. Small but mighty, Leavenworth is packed with cute shops, restaurants, breweries, and cafes. For outdoor enthusiasts, Leavenworth offers lots of fun in the sun! There are bike trails and river access for swimming and floating. Make a day of it and you’ll already be planning your return visit.
Places we tried and loved: J5 Coffee, Whistlepunk Ice Cream Co., Enchantment Park + Playground, Blewett Brewing Company (great beer and pizza!)
Tinkham is another beautiful lush campground, covered with ferns and moss, conveniently located… but there were definitely cons.
Pros: River access that was shallow enough for children, spacious and lush camp sites
Cons: Disgusting, smelly pit toilets, the potable water was yellow (we opted not to use it and brought our own water), terrible road leading in with a lot of potholes
Hikes + Activities:
Franklin Falls – 2 mile hike, out and back. I was unimpressed. It was extremely crowded and had a lot of logs and debris at the base of the falls. It was underwhelming.
Gold Creek Pond – 1 mile, wheelchair and stroller accessible loop, great spot for picnics. We did not make it to this location, but I wish we had chosen it over Franklin Falls!
We originally had plans to camp by Quinalt Lake, but we ended up taking an emergency detour to Aberdeen because Arlo had an infected cut and needed antibiotics. We then continued onto our next stop at Coho Campground. Overall, we had a positive experience. The campsite hosts were very friendly and drove by nightly to offer the kids a piece of candy. The lake was a quick couple minute drive from the campground, which we enjoyed. It was more recreational than aesthetic, but it was a place to swim and the kids had fun. There were also picnic benches and BBQs if you wanted to make it an all day thing.
Pros: Very clean bathrooms with flush toilets, spacious sites, wonderful camp hosts, minutes away from Wynoochee Lake access
Cons: No cell service, a bit underwhelming location, noisy neighbors/dogs barking late at night with no regulation
Afterwards, we headed home! We stopped in Portland to check out the dinosaur exhibit at OSMI and then made it back to Bend to pick up our teardrop and continue our journey!