Great Outdoors Self-Care Series Summary

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”.

John Burroughs, 19th century American Naturalist and early conservationist

Summary of March 19, 2021 Self-Care Session: “Why the Great Outdoors is Our Happy Place” submitted by Irene Neumann, Parent Education Co-Chair for LWPTSA Council.

There is a reason that many people think of being in nature akin to being in church. We can honor and certainly be in awe of the beauty that surrounds us in the great outdoors. And indeed we know that being outside and taking in the trees, grasses, flowers, birds and other wonders of our environment feeds our inner selves as well, both physically and mentally.

When we walk for longer stretches outside, we are burning calories and improving our overall health in a multitude of ways, including heart health, reducing sick days during flu season, regulating blood sugar levels, easing joint pain, and more. Want an energy boost? Walk around the block! Click here to learn about more physical benefits to walking:
10 Benefits of Walking, Plus Safety Tips and More (

We also know that being outside can help with our mental well-being. Studies show that being outside reduces stress and mental fatigue and helps us fight anxiety and depression. I cherish my long walks along the Cross Kirkland Corridor that I started taking when the pandemic began and can even say they were a critical part of my own self care. For more information about both physical and mental benefits of being outside, go to:
The 19 Physical & Mental Benefits of Being Outside (My Open Country)

So Let’s Go Outside! Pacific Northwest, here we come!

Franklin Falls on the left and Irene Neumann’s in-laws on Rattlesnake Ledge on the right

Lezlie Cox, longtime volunteer and on staff with the Washington Trails Association (WTA) shared a lot of information with us for how to go outside and take advantage of the trails and hikes at our doorsteps, safely! See the Hiking Resources for Families sheet. Here is a summary of what Lezlie talked to us about.

About WTA

Washington Trails Association (WTA) is an advocacy organization that supports volunteerism through trails maintenance, it has 25,000 members and 5,000 trail volunteers! is fondly known as “armchair hiking”, this is an excellent website for finding the exact right hike for you, for that month, and information about all things trails and hikes. Go there for tips, information about passes, and latest on all the trails. They have a hike finder map and you can add filters to find the exact right hike for you and your family. The website has lots of videos under the Trail Smarts icon, such as ones on “winter safety” and “leave no trace”.

Hiking Tips

  • Before you go make sure to charge your phone, check with WTA on latest updates on the particular hike and check the weather conditions.
  • On the hike dress in layers and bring rain gear.
  • If you don’t get to the end of the hike, no worries.
  • Always be aware of the ability levels of the people with you.
  • Bring water and a snack.
  • If taking your child, think about bringing a friend for him/her along.
  • Evans Creek Preserve in Redmond is hikable any time of year!
  • A few popular hiking destinations including Rattlesnake Ledge and Franklin Falls are closed at the moment. Franklin Falls had an avalanche last year and will hopefully be restored. Ape Caves Trail is also closed due to COVID-19 and extra precautions.
  • Book with hike ideas: Best Hikes With Kids in Western Washington & the Cascades by Joan Burton.

Youth Groups
There are lots of youth skill-building groups, check out the WTA website for more. COVID-19 protocols are currently in place. Check the WTA website for details. The Mountaineers also have many activities and groups. During the pandemic the Mountaineers are also offering classes via King County Library System.

Discovery Passes
Need a parking pass for Washington State Parks? King County Library System has some you can check out for 14 days at a time. Learn more:

If you have questions about the WTA or hikes and you can’t find answers for on the website, contact

Thank you to Lezlie Cox and the Washington Trails Association for joining us at our March Self Care talk! Join us for our April Self Care session on Gratitude with Staci Danford, April 16 at 5 pm.

Lake Washington PTSA Council is hosting monthly self-care sessions on the third Friday of the month at 5PM. Check the calendar for more information about upcoming sessions. For questions, contact the parent education chairs at