Some Great Places For Family Hikes

THERE are many hikes you can try all around the country and near where you live, too. You might like to try easy hikes (on short and level trails) first, and then try harder hikes (longer and uphill).

Check state and national parks and forests for more ideas. You and your parents might also like to choose hikes from books, such as the "Best Hikes with Children" series, published by the Mountaineers.

Remember to always stay on trails and where your parents can see you; don't go by yourself. You and your parents will need to bring maps, snacks, water, raingear, and extra clothes. Other kids will enjoy the trails as much as you if you don't leave trash or disturb the plants. I have been on many of these hikes with my parents.

I hope you like them as much as we did!

Grove of the Patriarchs

Mount Rainier National Park, Wash.

Length: 1/4 mile, loop

This easy, level trail is lined with gigantic hemlocks, some of which are more than 300 feet high and 1,000 years old. The trail also has a suspension bridge that crosses a stream.

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail

Glacier National Park, Mont.

Length: 2.6 miles, loop

This level trail runs around Swiftcurrent Lake, beginning near Many Glacier Hotel. Various wildlife (beavers, birds, even moose), trees, and mountains can be seen from this trail, a midlength hike for kids.

Artist Bluff

Franconia Notch State Park, N.H.

Length: 1.8 miles, loop

This moderate hike involves an uphill hike to Artist Bluff, a rocky ledge overlooking the magnificent White Mountains and Echo Lake. Children will enjoy seeing the tram that scales Cannon Mountain, opposite Artist Bluff. The ledge is a good place for a picnic.

Dunes Exploration

Great Sand Dunes

National Monument, Colo.

Length: 0.3 to 4 miles, one way

The 55 square miles of sand dunes seem out of place, far from an ocean. There are no trail signs: You are free to explore the dunes. Be sure to stay near your parents, bring water, and wear shoes. The sand is hot.

Goat Peak Lookout

Mount Tom State Reservation, Mass.

Length: 2 miles, round trip

This is an easy, uphill hike through maple and hemlock forests. From Goat Peak, you will be able to see Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, and the valley of the Connecticut River. There is also a nature museum with geology, bird, insect, and small animal exhibits at the base.

Great Blue Hill

Blue Hills Reservation, Mass.

Length: 2 miles, loop

A moderately difficult hike. From the summit you have an excellent view of nearby Boston.

Birdseye and Golden Walls Trails

Red Canyon, west of Bryce Canyon

National Park, Utah

Length: 1.3 to 2.5 miles

Both of these moderate trails begin from the Red Canyon Visitor Center. The Birdseye Trail has signs that explain native American uses of the desert plants that border the trail. From both trails, you'll be able to see unusual rock formations of different colors.

At Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos, N.M.

Length: 1.5 miles, loop

This guided trail, beginning at the main visitor center, explores ancient Pueblo ruins from AD 1450, and two Spanish missions from the 17th and 18th centuries. There are signs that explain the ruins, as well as a guide for kids that you can pick up at the visitor's center.

Fly Trap Trail

Carolina Beach State Park, N.C.

Length: 0.5 miles, loop

One of the only places to find Venus fly traps growng naturally is on this coastal hike. The loop trail is a flat hike on both sand and boardwalks near the Intercoastal Waterway. The park has other trails (5 miles total) you can try, too. Look for the variety of plants, trees, and birds.

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