Family Friendly Places to Hike
There are so many beautiful places to hike with your family it was hard to narrow it down to just thirteen. We found many places to hike, especially out west. We made sure we found places all across the United States. We also added great hiking tips just to make sure your family enjoys their time together.
Let’s start in the western part of the United States first and make our way across our great country.
1. Yosemite National Park, California-
Yosemite is known for its waterfalls. This park is 1,200 square miles with valleys, beautiful meadows, ancient giant sequoias and lots of acres of wilderness areas.
There are wonderful hikes for families. Flat trails for the little ones and more challenging for the older kids. Biking is also great on the flat trails.
Stay in the park, if possible, to save time so you can enjoy other fun activities like swimming in the river or the pool and listening to informative talks with the Ranger. There is plenty of fun for your family to have at this park.
2. The Grand Canyon, Arizona-
The Grand Canyon, the great outdoors does not get any better than this. There are trails for all levels from beginning to experts. Please make sure to pay attention to the signs because they will tell you the levels of difficulty.
If you have little ones there is an easy accessible trail along the south rim that families with small children and strollers can enjoy.
If you have older kids there are more challenging trails too.
Besides hiking, there are so many other activities to enjoy too. Like biking, riding a mule, taking a river trip and star gazing just to name a few. Try to stay in the park so you can take in all the scenery.
3. Zion National Park, Utah
The Zion National Park is a great destination for families and is known for its high rock formations and flowing water falls. This 229 square mile park has many easy trails for kids. Here are a few family friendly hikes we have found.
The mile long Emerald Pool Trail is a great way to catch a glimpse of the pools. Visitors are able to gain access to the pools by taking three different trails. If you want to get close to the pools the Lower Emerald Pool Loop Trail is the easiest.
Even though this park is located in the desert it is not without water. Groundwater can be found oozing out of rock formations on the Weeping Rock Trail. This attraction is worth seeing. It is steep but short, so not exhausting. You will enjoy the moss and hanging garden and may even feel a few drops of water along the way.
4. Jump Creek Falls Trail, near Marsing, Idaho
This trail is highly recommended and a very family friendly trail. Hiking the mostly shaded .06-mile hike is worth it because the view is stunning. There are plenty of neat caves the kids will love to see along the way. When you reach the falls there is a place to swim too.
There is an area where you will have to cross a creek but the stepping stones are flat and make it easier. Please be careful of the time of year you go because weather can play a role in whether you can cross the creek or not. Best times are between March- October.
5. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
This beautiful hike is great for little ones. The scenery is just breathtaking. It’s full of glacier lakes, canyons, and tall peaks.
The popular hikes for families are the Swan Loop Trail, Hidden Falls, and Heron Pond just to name a few. If you’re looking for a lot of day hikes this is the place to go.
Families can also bike, swim, go paddle boarding or kayaking. Lots of fun for everyone.
6. Glacier National Park, Montana
This park is simply stunning. It has many hikes for little ones and even has some trails that are stroller accessible. There are even trails to challenge older kids.
You will enjoy stunning snow capped peaks as well as lakes, waterfalls, streams and a beautiful overlook. Most of these hikes have destinations. Kids do better hiking when they know there is an endpoint.
As you enjoy the mountain scenery and mountain air this hike will allow you to escape the hot summer temperatures so you can focus on your family and having fun.
7. Miner's Castle Trail, Munising, Michigan
This short hike takes about 14 minutes and is well worth it. There are 3 different overlooks and all are amazing. It is perfect for all ages and one of the few dog friendly hikes in Michigan. Most of the trail is paved and there are some stairs. The first overlook is wheelchair and stroller accessible which include the spectacular views of Miner’s Castle, Lake Superior and Grand Island.
8. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
This park is 53,000 acres and has the longest cave system in the world. There are cave tours as well as hiking trails.
Some cave tours are too long for kids but this one is a quarter of a mile and only takes about an hour. Families can enjoy the Rainbow Dome, Crystal Lake and the Drapery Room to name a few.
The south side of the park is where you will find the easiest trails. Many lead to churches, cemeteries, caves, an old locomotive and beautiful scenic overlooks. There are other activities to enjoy too. Such as horseback riding, canoeing, biking, Ranger led programs and camping.
9. Cloudland Trail, Roan Mountain, North Carolina
This is one of the best family friendly hikes in North Carolina and is open all year around. It’s a 1.2 mile walk which is about a 45-minute easy walk. The trails are wide, mostly shaded and well maintained.
Kids will love this hike and little ones will be able to handle this with little effort. The views on this hike go on forever. The trail ends at the Roan High Bluff with a breath-taking view.
10. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
This park is one of the best parks to enjoy the fall colors in the US. This park is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
This is a great destination for families. There are several trails your family will enjoy. Dark Hollow Fall Trail is one of the most recommended trails by Park Rangers especially for beginning hikers. Enjoy a scenic waterfall.
Stoney Man is also popular and you can say you actually hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a small part but still a part of the Appalachian Trail.
There is also a Junior Ranger program that kids can become a Junior Ranger, a favorite.
11. Hawk Falls Trails, Pennsylvania
This trail is 1.2 and takes an estimated 29 minutes. This family friendly hike can be taken year around and is a beautiful hike anytime.
This fun, short hike is rated as easy and is mostly shaded. The path is clearly marked and is quite wide. The trail is lined with Rhododendrons.
Lots of views of the creek along the way. You may even see some brook trout. Cross a bridge along the way.
The destination is a 25-foot waterfall. You will love this beautiful waterfall. Very pretty. Swimming is not permitted but still worth the hike.
12. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
Explore sandy beaches, salt marshes and wild horses. What kid doesn’t like horses? These small horses, that look like ponies, were brought to the island in the 1600’s by local planters.
The Life of the Marsh Trail is a half mile round trip that takes you through the salt marshes. Families are almost guaranteed to see these horses that live in the marshes and fields.
On the Virginia side the horses are kept in a large enclosure and can be seen from the 1.5 mile hike on the Woodland Trail.
13. Acadia National Park, Maine
Back in the mid-20th century 45 miles of carriage roads were created that are well taken care of and maintained. These crushed rock roads are 16 feet wide, fairly smooth and not too steep. Great for families to hike. Strollers can even make the trip. Great for bike trips and horseback riding.
As you hike, stop and enjoy the 17 stone bridges scattered all along the trail. Each one has a different design to fit the setting around them.
If you’re just starting out hiking as a family, finding a place to hike close to home is recommended. It may help not having a long drive to and from the hike.
Let’s start with some safety tips. If kids are able to let them carry their own snacks and drinks if able to. Include a safety whistle in each pack just in case they become separated. Before the hike talk about safety and how to use the whistle. Three sharp blows will help you to locate them. You can share with them that it’s to help find mom and dad instead of if they get lost. Being lost can be scary for children.
Hiking is a great way to promote health, closeness and offers great educational opportunities. Take the time to explore along the way and don’t worry about getting from point A to point B. Focus more on having fun and being flexible.
Give the kids some control like let them set the pace, choose which trail to take. Allow them to discover along the way, checking out bugs, frogs, flowers and animals. To start, help them pick short interesting hikes. Like a walk with a waterfall, lake, stream, overlook or a historic site. Allowing them to explore, talk and ask questions.
Dress in layers. It may start out cold but as the hike goes on it may start to warm up. This way they can take off or add to as needed. It’s a good idea to have the kids wear bright colored clothing to make it easier to keep track of them.
Bring plenty of snacks and water. Kids will get hungry and this way your hike won’t get cut short. Hydration is also important, especially on hot days.
Sing songs, play games along the way. Discuss how long the hike is, what they might see and how to use the maps that are provided. Remember the most important thing is to have fun. Make this be a lifelong tradition for your family.
Don’t forget to check out our free Hiking journal. Help your kids record their hikes, what they liked, saw and favorite things about each hike.