July 30 2020

4 kid-friendly trails for families with young hikers


For many, hiking is a family affair that includes little ones who may be hitting the trails for the first time. What children may lack in stride and stamina, they certainly make up for in curiosity — making hiking the perfect opportunity to be active and discover new things in nature.

Make the most of your family hiking experience by picking a trail suitable for a young adventurer, adequately preparing for your outdoor excursion and keeping your kids engaged while on the trails.

Be prepared: When scheduling outdoor time, take into consideration that hiking with children may take longer than hiking with adults. Generally speaking, young kids can stay on a pace of about 1.5 to 2 miles-per-hour, compared to 3 to 4 miles-per-hour for the average adult.

Always dress for the weather and wear appropriate foot gear. Bringing extra layers and sun protection is always important. Extra water, snacks, socks, bandages and a flashlight are also a good idea. Additionally, remember to pack masks for your family so you can observe the CDC’s guidelines with regards to face coverings and social distancing.

Another great way to prepare for your trip is to download the new Five Rivers MetroParks Mobile App powered by OuterSpatial. This free app allows users to plan a visit to a park or trail and make the most of their visit once they arrive, navigate trails, discover new places and more. Download Five Rivers MetroParks Mobile App powered by OuterSpatial here.

Teachable moments: Hitting the trails with your kids provides a great opportunity for them to learn about Leave No Trace Principles and basic trail etiquette:

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Stick to the trails
  • Leave what you find (leave only footprints, take only pictures)
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Be considerate of other users
  • Pass on the left and announce when passing
  • Uphill hikers have the right of way (keep right)
  • Keep pets under control (dogs must be on a leash at all times, and the leash cannot be longer than six feet)

Take time to stop and look at interesting bugs, different leaves, wildflowers and more. Take pictures of what you find, so you can keep your adventure going and learn more about your discoveries at home on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ website and many kid-friendly citizen science sites.

MetroParks’ most kid-friendly trails: Try starting with one of the trails listed below for your next family hike. Once your kiddo acclimates to hiking, your family can graduate to longer trails that feature more varied terrain. You may even want to select a few trails from the MetroParks Trails Challenge to tackle as a family.

  • Hills & Dales MetroPark: Adirondack Trail loop around Dogwood pond. Start at the Paw Paw shelter and cross the wetlands boardwalk to make your walk longer (less than 1 mile)
  • Possum Creek MetroPark: Blue trail around Argonne Lake (1 mile)
  • Englewood MetroPark: Blue trail along the boardwalk, then head to the nature play area for bonus fun! (0.5 miles)
  • Carriage Hill MetroPark: Red trail around Cedar Lake (0.5 miles) Orange trail (1.3 miles with options for shorter routes)

Learn more about MetroParks’ trails at www.metroparks.org.

Five Rivers MetroParks visitors should always follow the CDC’s recommendations, particularly for social distancing and wearing face coverings, while spending time outdoors. For the most current information on MetroParks’ COVID-19 response and related closures, visit metroparks.org/covid-19 and follow Five Rivers MetroParks on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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