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5 great spring hiking destinations for families

A few easy ways to go take a hike this season

A family has some fun while on a hike in the mountains

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With spring weather here at last, there’s a lot to be said for spending time with your family in the great outdoors. There’s the refreshing air, the refreshing views, the refreshing … lack of screens.

And while a full-on vacation to a National Park is well worth your time, sometimes you want the outdoorsiness without all the logistics and planning (and cost!) a family vacation requires. Enter the seasonal hike.

We’ve put together some recommendations for family-friendly hiking trails that can be done as day hikes from major cities, whether you live in them or are visiting, and would like to add a nature-driven dimension to your trip.

We’ve picked one kid-friendly hike in each region of the US, but even if we didn’t mention a place near you it’s still worth looking at the variety — it might give you some ideas for your own spring jaunts. For a national list of zip code-searchable hikes, try AllTrails.

Note that none of these easy hikes requires extreme fitness or a backpack full of equipment. But do consider wearing appropriate footwear (like hiking boots), bringing water and snacks, applying sunscreen or donning a hat, checking trail conditions ahead of time, and, of course, packing a positive, can-do attitude.

In this article:

West

Guemes Mountain, Guemes Island

Guemes Island is a couple of hours from Seattle, and includes a quick ferry ride, so even the journey itself is kid-friendly.

Once there, you’ll find a 2.4-mile round trip trail that includes a visit to the highest point on the island and a spectacular view of nearby (and less nearby) mountains and other islands. It’s also a great place to see wildflowers, and for birdwatching, two essentials for hiking with kids.

Midwest

Brandywine Falls Upper Boardwalk in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH

At less than a mile, this barely qualifies as a hike, but we’re including it because, in addition to leading to a stunning view of Brandywine Falls, it’s stroller- and wheelchair-friendly. (It’s worth remembering that in many parks you can still hike even if some family members get around on wheels.)

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is a short drive from Cleveland and Akron, and not too far from Columbus, has various trails that kids love, including several that will help you tire out the youngest members of your family.

Southeast

East Ridge Loop Trail in Amicalola Falls State Park

Atlanta has plenty of in-town outdoor walking options because of the Beltline, but it’s also worth going further afield to see the cascades at Amicalola Falls State Park. The East Ridge Loop runs for two miles and some of it is steep, so it’s better for slightly older kids, or for parents who really like carrying their children.

The park also has lodging, activities and a wide range of other trails.

Southwest

Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe, NM

For a less prescriptive, choose-your-own-adventure kind of hike, Galisteo Basin Preserve is worth a (very quick) trip from Santa Fe.

Download the trail map and make up your own route among the well-marked trails. They begin at the entrance, which means you can do a short walk within a reasonable distance of your car or roam further afield, depending on your kids’ ages and preferences. (Your own age and preferences may also be a factor).

The appeal of the Preserve is that it’s a wide open space, so be advised that this also means there isn’t much shade: Go early or late in the day.

Northeast

The Chasm Loop Trail in Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, MA

Less than an hour-and-a-half from Boston, this kid-friendly, 1.4-mile trail provides activity and entertainment for kids beyond admiring nature’s bounty.

There are boulders, a gorge, and rock formations with names like The Coffin, Devil’s Corn Crib and Lover’s Leap. The reservation also has a picnic area for post-hike eating, and a playground. This particular trail is closed in winter, when it becomes slippery, but the reservation has plenty of other year-round options.

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Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

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