Meadowdale Beach Trail, also known as Meadowdale Beach Park or Lunds Gulch, is a perfect trail to get the family hiking through the woods for a quick trip to the beach. And it’s free!
Located in Lynnwood, WA (Edmonds area) and tucked behind a neighborhood, you’d never expect such a luscious trail and amazing access to the Puget Sound. Round trip this trail is only 2.5 miles. It does start with stairs, so prep your little ones that at the end, they must climb those to get out.
From the parking lot, you’ll follow a pathway down to the beginning of the trail head. The park does have benches for you to lunch at. My biggest complaint (and for me, it’s almost a deal breaker) is how busy this trail is. Because Meadowdale Beach Trail is in town and so easy to get to, it is well used and well loved. We went on a pretty chilly day and I was shocked at how packed the path was. It was nearly impossible to find parking (people were sitting in their cars, waiting for spots to open up — I sat for 10+ minutes before I realized what was going on). I ended up parking outside the park in a nearby neighborhood. I feel bad for the neighbors, so if you must park there, please be respectful of their garbage cans, driveways, and sidewalks.
85 steps are easy going down, but they had some of the kids legs burning going up! The stairs begin the 400ft descent in elevation (about .5 miles total). These steps were built by the Washington Trail Association in 2017. It is a GREAT addition and makes the walk down even better for any little ones joining you.
At the bottom of the stair case is where you can start to hear the babbling creek — also known as Lunds Gulch Creek.
In love with the walk here. The lush forests enclose the entire trail and you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. (And yes, this is my daughter on a winter hike with no coat #becausekidsthrowtrantrums. She came to her senses halfway through and I shared my jacket with her.)
The trail is wide, which is nice because of how busy it can get. There were a lot of bodies moving around the trail but I never felt crowded or that I had to stop and wait for other travelers. We were still free to move at our own pace, and other hikers were very considerate. If it’s going to be a busy trail, a wide-busy trail is great.
Great picture opportunities! Make sure you take some time to look up and around at all the gorgeous vegetation.
Approximately 1 mile in to the hike you’ll hit a fork in the road. To the left will be a bridge where the kids can take a peek at the creek. In the fall, salmon come to spawn. People have also seen steelhead trout and sculpin.
As you walk past the ranger station, you’ll find a picnic area with restrooms. If you continue to the right side of the fork, you’ll quickly find your way to the beach.
For as active as this trail was, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the portable bathrooms. Might not be a bad idea to bring your own hand sanitizer though.
This trail is really great all year round, but if you are visiting during cold and wet seasons, plan on a little mud along the trail.
Tunnels are always a favorite.
Almost to the beach!!
And you’re there! The kids will have so much fun playing in the Puget Sound and finding treasures on the beach. If you don’t have a blanket packed, there are usually empty logs to perch on.
Looking across the water you can see the southern tip of Whidbey Island, Kitsap Peninsula and the Olympic Mountains. Not a bad view for just over a mile of walking.
During low tide you may be able to walk along the beach as far south as the disused Haines Wharf (adding about a mile round trip to the hike). At very low tides you could walk north to Sunset Wharf adding another .7 miles roundtrip. Just be careful to check the tides. Tips from WTA say, “Look at the level of the marine vegetation and barnacles on the exposed rocks as signs of the high tide level. Determine whether you would be able to return safely if the tide returned, without walking on the rail embankment, which is unsafe and not permitted. If you are lucky enough to be there at low tide, beachcombing is a treat – don’t miss seeing the purple sea anemones hiding at the base of big rocks on the landward side.”
From I-5, take exit 183 to 164th St SW, going west for about 1.3 miles. Continue on the main thoroughfare as it bears left and becomes 44th Ave W, while 164th St SW forks to the right as a minor street. After another 0.4 miles, at a traffic light, turn right onto 168th St SW and continue west. Go straight across Route 99, then after less than 0.5 mile, turn right on 52nd Ave W at a gas station. Go 0.5 miles, then turn left on 160th St SW where you will see a brown sign on the right, pointing left for “Meadowdale County Park”. Follow these brown signs at each of the next junctions: go 0.25 miles, then turn right on 56th Ave W. Go 0.25 miles, then go left on 156th St SW.
The parking lot can hold about 30 cars and is often full even on winter weekends and summer weekdays. Usually it is possible to find a parking spot in nearby streets – make sure to park where it is permitted. There are portable bathrooms both at the trailhead and 1.25 miles down the trail at the picnic site.
Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip (out and back)
Elevation: 425 ft elevation change
Skill Level: Easy — some may say moderate due to the 85 steps at the beginning, but ANY kid could easily do this trail
When: Access year round
Pets: Dogs allowed on leash
Trailhead Coordinates: 47.8558, -122.3175