Family Friendly Summits

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In her book Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure, writer Patricia Ellis Herr relates the adventures and lessons learned as she and her young daughter summited 48 of New Hampshire’s highest peaks. Your goals might be a little less lofty, but here are five ways you and your family can enjoy peak experiences:

1 Bag a Colorado Fourteener.

There is no such thing as an easy summit when you climb to 14,000 feet or beyond, but Mount Bierstadt is often suggested as the best peak to pursue for first-timers. With an elevation gain of 2,850 feet, the seven-mile round trip trail is well-maintained and affords stunning views and the chance to see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Get an early start to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.


2 Climb Humphreys Peak, near Flagstaff, Ariz.

The easiest access trail begins at the Arizona Snow Bowl in Lockett Meadow. It climbs through the alpine forest of the Kachina Peaks Wilderness area before hikers emerge above the tree line. Move beyond three false summits before declaring victory at 12,633 feet.

On a clear day, you’ll enjoy views of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert and the Hopi mesas. This five-mile trail is considered one of the easiest high points to summit in the western United States.


3 Peak with Southern Yosemite mountain guides.

Discover the Ansel Adams Wilderness area, where your family can fish in high mountain lakes, wander through wildflower-strewn meadows and sleep under the stars. As part of their five-day family trek to this High Sierra Camp, willing adventurers can opt in for a summit hike to one of several nearby 10,000-foot peaks.

Contact: 1-800-231-4575; 

4 Top out on Mount Monadnock; Jaffrey, N.H.

Some claim you can see six New England states from the summit of this 3,165-foot-high mountain. A two-mile trail is the shortest way up this peak that once served as the inspiration for a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Popular and easily accessible, Mount Monadnock is reported to be among the most-climbed mountains in the world.

Contact: 603-532-8862; www.nhstate


5 Ascend Mount Scott, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

Put this peak on your list and you’ll hike 2.5 miles, charmed by abundant wildflowers. Those who reach the 8,929-foot summit are rewarded with views of the magnificently blue Crater Lake in the foreground and California’s Mount Shasta and Oregon’s Three Sisters in the distance.

Expect snow on the trail from October to late July.;


Note: Hiking long distances, particularly at altitude, requires fitness, plenty of water, proper gear and up-to-the minute information. Consult your physician to determine if you and your children are prepared to embark on these or similar strenuous endeavors.