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Kids at Squilchuck

By Bernie Cain (13 June 2009)

I have a theory that if you keep kids active, you will have no issues at bedtime.  That’s one of many reasons why it’s worth getting children outdoors.

A recent adventure to Squilchuck State Park began early Saturday morning with a dog and four kids--Joe (13), Phoebe (7) and two foster children ages 7 and 3. The foster kids had never been hiking in the woods before, so this truly was an adventure. 

If you drive the Squilchuck Road seven miles from Wenatchee, you’ll reach the entrance of the state park. The signs on the gate declare that the park is closed, but you’re still permitted to hike the grounds and forest trails. Adjacent to the gate is an area for parking off Mission Ridge Road. The road into the park leads to the lodge that was built in 1953 as a ski lodge. Due to budget cuts, the lodge and amenities are closed.

Armed with water bottles, snacks, and dryer sheets (bug repellent), we took the first trail leading from the roadside. There were a number of smaller trails branching from the road but the main trail was about the width of a car. The beauty of this trail was that it was quite gentle. The trail began with a steady climb up the hillside behind the lodge and past the campsites. It was during this part of the trail that the mosquitoes where out in force, but they cleared out the farther up the hillside we climbed. This was the worst part for the boys on their first hike. 

The temperature was a comfortable 75°F walking below the tree cover. There was a lot to see along the way that kept the kids engaged. They enjoyed finding the arrows attached to the trees directing us. There were wildflowers to squat beside and examine, eagles overhead to lay back and watch, horse poop to navigate around, and bugs that bombed our ears. We also fielded the usual questions, “Are there snakes and bears in these woods?” And every few minutes we heard, “There’s Alvin !!” (Chipmunks to the uninitiated).

At the top of the hill, the trail flattened and we followed a loop that was approximately a half-mile in diameter. Along the loop, the trail opened into a small meadow and there was a small pond. The storm clouds above Mission Ridge looked ominous and the thunder reverberated in the valley. Apparently this was God’s tummy rumbling!  

I enjoyed the hike as the kids could run freely along the trail and explore. It was interesting listening to the conversations and the questions. There were questions about ants and butterflies and the younger boys pretended there was hot lava if you stepped off the trail.

All told, this hike took two hours round trip. Included were many water stops, the inspection of every ant hill along the trail, a snack break and an unplanned diaper change. (TIP: the used dryer sheets come in handy inside the diaper sack for the car ride home). 

Naturally there were some complaints but the kids enjoyed themselves on the hike. I have drawings that show what they liked and the ‘muskedows’ buzzing around that they didn’t like. Now we are looking forward to our next adventure -- maybe this weekend.

Inquisitive children will enjoy this hike. Parents who want their children to sleep well will also find a lot to enjoy at Squilchuck.

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Guidebook info about Squilchuck (note while this entry was written for recreation, the  maps and most of the information is useful).