Washington Road Trip Summer 2021

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

Itinerary:

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

Home!

Please ignore the starred locations this map was created on my Google Maps account where a zillion locations are marked

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!

Deceivingly beautiful campground…
Emrys’ tub baths! One of my favorite campsite activites

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!

Hello Harry!

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!

Leavenworth

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 Campground

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!

A refreshingly chilly way to bathe!

Coho Campground

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

After the ER fiasco, a breakfast beer was in order.

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!


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