The toughest part about hiking in the Northwest is narrowing down which of the places to visit. A quick search on Google will reinforce that no mater what direction you go there is another stunning location to trek through. Add kids, dogs, and a semi-reasonable timeframe and pretty soon a recommendation from someone else starts to sound like a good idea. Two weekends ago we had the same dilemma, where new to go that is family friendly, realistic in length, and that the little ones would be excited about? (The dogs as usual didn't care where we went…) We ended up at Rattlesnake Lake, with a destination hike to Rattlesnake Ridge.
The drive takes about 45 minutes from Seattle, with the turnoff being just past North Bend. Parking is no problem and everything is well marked and easy to find. The lake itself is pretty large and a nice destination in itself, but the real draw is the hike to the ridge-line. At about 2 miles each way, with an elevation gain of 1,200 or so feet it's good exercise, but completely manageable for littler legs and short attention spans.
The trail itself is really well maintained and winds easily through the woods with occasional clearings to gut check progress. There's lots of wildlife to see (we spotted a snake, a lizard, tons of birds and chipmunks and a number of interesting dogs) and your pet's leash is only required to be carried, not on, so if your canine is well behaved you can let them trek un-tethered.
The top is where the payoff is. A giant rock bluff lets you gaze out over the various valleys below and gives the impression that it's a straight drop all the way back to the lake. Not quite the case, but it's a pretty long ways down so I'd leash the pets and have a good grip on the little guys when enjoying the incredible view. So if you are looking for a nice way to spend the day outside, definitely consider this spot. The jaw dropping scenery from the top is well worth the trip!