Just a minute away from the popular Remlinger Farms, Tolt-Macdonald Park is nestled onto the banks of the Tolt River. “Nestled” isn’t really the right word, since the park is huge, but the area right next to the river is where you will find a gorgeous spot for wading into the water and having a picnic.
When you drive into the park, you will see sports fields on your right and a lovely big, red barn that says “Tolt.” (Note, there is another, smaller entrance. If you don’t see soccer fields, go to the next entrance.) Keep going and you will come upon the Campgrounds. This is where you need to go to find my favorite spot in the park. In this area, you will see reservable spots for tent camping and yurt camping- that’s right, you can rent a yurt, which is a big, round tent that you would be more likely to find in Mongolia than Carnation. Park in the little parking lot right next to the big suspension bridge (did I tell you there is a big suspension bridge?) that takes you to the yurts.
For fun, cross the suspension bridge and check out the yurts, if you like. It wiggles a little bit, and you can see through the slats of the bridge, so if anyone has a fear of heights, this might not be a good idea, but it is a neat bridge and you can see a great view of the river. From the bridge, you can even see the little beach spot I love on the camping side of the river! If you have a dog with you, he will probably have a little trouble crossing the bridge because of the way the slats are layed out, so you may have to carry them or leave them on one side. Just a note for any puppy family members.
Now, head back over the bridge and turn right onto the little cement road that goes past the campsites. There are about ten campsites, and they look like a fabulous place to camp, if you are yearning to break out the pup tent. At the end of this little road (a few minutes walk), you will see a bathroom building on your left (just in case) and some rocks at the entrance of path into the woodsy area. That path will take you to the lovely banks of the Tolt River.
This area of the Tolt River is quite shallow and slow moving (but be aware that weather conditions can ALWAYS change that). Some areas are sandy beach, some areas are rocky beach, but the whole thing is beautiful. The water is great for wading in, and many folks bring inflatables for floating a little bit on the river. It is quite nice for setting up a picnic while the kids splash in the water. My 8 year old loved it, wading out quite a ways before it got up to her waist. The area is surrounded by beautiful trees and bridges on two sides, and it feels tucked away and hidden from the world.
If you go, bring towels and something to sit on. In the afternoon, it can be quite sunny, so an umbrella is a good idea. A picnic and a change of clothes will also make the afternoon perfect.
If you have a full day to fill, you could go to Remlinger Farms and ride the amusement park rides (best for 10 years and under), then relax in the afternoon for an hour or two at the Tolt River beach.
MOST IMPORTANT: BE SAFE.
There is no lifeguard here, so you MUST use your judgement. Don’t let the kids go out too far, because there is a current in the river. Though it is usually slow, it might take you off guard. Life jackets are a good idea when playing in rivers. Use common sense. You must be careful and responsible.
Tolt-Macdonald Park and Campgrounds
Park entrance is at NE 40th St and Highway 203 at the south end of Carnation