Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to find out about and locate day hiking trails for kids

Hiking guidebooks can provide good information
about possible trails to hike.
How do you know where there’s a trail to hike? Maybe you may live near a park or national forest and pass a trail on your way to work or when running errands. You may have overheard other hikers or parents talking about them. Even then, you probably don’t know much about those trails or if they’re right for you and your family.

You may not be so lucky, of course, and have no idea where you can even hike. To find the answer, go online and look for trails near you, simply by entering the name of your town and “hiking trails” in a search engine. You may need to enter the state along with your town – for example, just typing “Lancaster” for your town gives you results for both the city in California and the one in Pennsylvania. Many of the websites you encounter will be blogs, discussion boards, and chat rooms about hiking. They can give you insights on what to expect on the trail and problems encountered.

Alternatively, you might look on a map and see what parks or national forests are near you.

Most guidebooks tend to list trails that offer the most dramatic views or that are the most famous among adult hikers. You’ll have to be selective to find those that work well for a child. Usually those marked “easy” are good trails to consider.

Such activities make a memorable end to a day hike. To keep kid’s enthusiasm charged, “review” the hike in kid-friendly ways. While you really can’t do this with infants, most toddlers and older kids will enjoy it.

Hiking or camping magazines also offer lists, but they tend to be for serious backpackers who go long distances on multi-day trips.

Organized hikes offered at local parks also are a great way to get started. The downside is they often move slow and don’t always stop and linger where your child might want to.

If you can’t find answers about a specific trail, additional information usually can be obtained from park rangers.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.