We really wanted somewhere new for our weekend hike with our kids, so I hit the maps and found Alderwood State Wayside park about 40 minutes from our house. It didn’t promise much, except for a “short hike” and a bridge across the Long Tom River. It sounded a little like an adventure, so we packed up the minivan and took off to explore this hike with our 5 kids.
The drive to Alderwood was lovely on a sunny late-winter day. We admired the sheep against the green fields, and the gently curving road that uncovered red barns set against a blue sky. Arriving at Alderwood’s parking lot, we explored the immediate vicinity as everyone exited the van. There’s a restroom with vault toilets, open year around. A single picnic table next to the river invites you to sit a while and watch the river ripple past. But we were here to hike and explore, and so we did.
Right off the parking lot is the bridge across the Long Tom River. It’s a newer bride and very sturdy. Watch out, though, it’s slick with the rain!
Once across the bridge, the trail narrows quickly and is dirt. We thought about returning to the van for our baby carrier, but the kids were in the stroller already and the trail looked wide enough. Soon, we noticed spring’s first flowers peaking out of the duff layer.
And to our delight, we found clovers! Perfect for a hike right after St Patrick’s Day.
After perhaps 1/8 mile, the trail narrowed further. Clearly most people explore it part way and turn back to the parking lot. While the trail was still plenty wide for foot traffic, it was much more difficult with our stroller. Our stroller is pretty rugged, but I found myself tempted to abandon it on the trail and just carry the baby. But, oof, our baby is 25 pounds and there were others on the trail, so leaving our stroller really wasn’t an option. But I did wish we’d brought the baby carrier. Rookie mistake. My husband took over, and we pressed on.
Discovering a Magical Fairyland
My big kids were having a blast. They ran ahead, and often took side paths to the river’s edge. One path led up the hill; we followed it for a ways, but the stroller couldn’t go very far. Among their other discoveries: a highway memorial, a good place to throw sticks into the water, and their favorite, a pair of trees that filtered the light just so.
We arrived back at our van, happy and warm from the unexpected sunshine and mild temperatures. The kids piled back into our van to eat the lunch I’d packed; it was too cool to eat at the picnic table, but perfect for chowing down inside our van. We watched cars come and go, and then we, too, headed down the road.