Five Family Friendly Hikes

Written by 

Do you love to hike?

Taking to the trails is a great way to introduce youngsters to the benefits of fresh air and the natural world.

Here are five hikes to enjoy together:

1 Sioux Charley Lake, Nye, Mont.

This 6-mile round-trip hike is scenic from start to finish. 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 the nearby rock outcroppings provide the perfect setting for a picnic. 


2 Lory State Park, Fort Collins, Colo.

A popular northern Front Range destination, Lory State Park offers 26 miles of hiking (and biking) trails, which are rich in wildflowers during the summer. Wind your way through rocky hills and green valleys. Savor the aroma of the ponderosa pine forest. Opt for ranger-led hikes under the full or almost full moon during the year’s warmest stretch, for a memorable family outing.


3 Washington, D.C., and Virginia, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

Take a break from hiking between museums and galleries and stretch your legs on a scenic path just 20 minutes from the Capitol. The trail begins at the Angler’s Inn and follows the canal towpath for 2.3 miles to the Great Falls Tavern, passing old locks along the way. The outing provides an opportunity to discuss the way locks once lifted boats 600 feet during the years — from the 1830s until 1924 — it was in use. On weekends, the park service offers rides on canal boats pulled by mules.


4 Grotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn.

Does your family love waterfalls? If so, Trillium Gap Trail will be a hit. The trail provides access behind the 25 feet of falling water where salamanders scamper about, to the delight of trekkers. The 3-mile round trip takes families through an old-growth hemlock forest. Caution is advised on slippery rocks near the cooling waterfall.


5 Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

The kids will feel like real mountaineers when they venture along the Sourdough Ridge Trail, located in the subalpine zone of this northwestern park. The 21/2-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.