Take to the trails with your family. Here are five ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
1. Avalanche Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, West Glacier, MT.
Expect stunning scenery from start to finish when you head out on the Avalanche Lake Trail. Plan a half-day in which to enjoy the 4.6-mile trek through a scenic gorge, along a bubbling stream and through an inland Pacific rain forest teeming with cedar and hemlock trees. The payoff is mighty when you reach the pristine lake surrounded by sheer cliffs and glistening waterfalls. It’s a popular picnic spot so bring a snack to share. All of Glacier National Park is bear country, so travel in groups, make noise and carry bear spray.
Contact: www.VisitMT.com; www.NPS.gov/glac
2. Mount Rainier National Park, Ashford, Washington
The kids will feel like real mountaineers when they venture along the Sourdough Ridge Trail, located in the subalpine zone of the park. The 2.5-mile loop trail offers stunning vistas of deep green valleys and snow-capped peaks. With only a 400-foot elevation gain, the hard-packed route provides high altitude ambience with relatively little effort. Be on the lookout for mountain goats and the occasional elk herd in the distance.
3. Kekekabic Trail, Ely, MN.
The full length of the Kekekabic Trail, or the Kek as it is known to local hikers, winds almost 40 miles from Snowbank Road, east of Ely, through the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to the famed Gunflint Trail, west of Grand Marais. Take on a family-sized slice of this this wild trail to experience rocky outcroppings, pristine lakes, scenic bluffs, and eagles soaring overhead. Listen for the rich yodeling of resident loons in the distance.
Contact: www.Kek.org; www.ExploreMinnesota.com
4. Piney Lake, Vail, CO.
Your family will declare the 11-mile journey up the bumpy road “worth it!” when you arrive at this breathtaking, high-altitude location. With the pristine lake as foreground, the craggy Gore Range serves as your backdrop for the out and back hike to a waterfall. You’ll journey along a smooth path through low shrubs before reaching a set of switchbacks that wind through an evergreen forest and over bubbling creeks. Most families turn around at the cascades when water rushes through narrowing canyon walls. Plan to rent canoes, enjoy an ice cream cone or go horseback riding at the adjacent Piney River Ranch.
5. Sioux Charley Lake. Nye, MT.
This six-mile round trip hike provides of visual feast of nature’s bounty. The initial views include tumbling waterfalls through a canyon-walled section of the Stillwater River known locally as “the washtubs”. The river braids and the canyon widens as hikers move toward the Beartooth Mountain peaks, ambling through forest and meadows dotted with wildflowers. The lake area or intermittent rock outcroppings provide the perfect setting for a family picnic.
Contact: visitmt.com; MTHikes.com.