Our family loves to hike. It’s that simple. Whether it is a weekend getaway or a big summer adventure in our White Hawk, we always look for campgrounds that are close to great, kid-friendly hikes. Wesley is more than happy to relax in one of the backpacks (provided we bring enough raisins and crackers) and our twins, Max and Theo, are fast becoming hiking pros at the ripe old age of five.
The older boys’ strength and confidence have grown quickly as they have moved out of our packs and onto challenging trails. They have learned to follow blazes, overcome rocky obstacles, and enjoy breathtaking mountaintop views. Our boys are growing up hiking—and we believe the lessons they are learning will last a lifetime.
We have enjoyed dozens of great hikes over the last four years, but these four stand out as our favorites. We hope they inspire you to pack up your RV this summer and head to the mountains for some serious family fun.
1. The Great Head Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
The Great Head Trail has just the right amount of adventure for your next family hike. It begins with a walk across Sand Beach, continues along a rocky trail around the Great Head Peninsula with dramatic ocean views, then pulls you into a magical forest of white birch trees before dropping you back off on the beach. If you feel like a swim at the end of the hike take a quick dip in the sparkling Atlantic —and I do mean quick! Summer water temps rarely exceed 55 degrees.
2. The Lake Minnewaska Trail Loop, Catskill Mountains, New York
Two summers ago we spent 12 days camping in New York State. We visited the Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls, and the Catskill Mountains. One of the highlights of this trip was the hike around Lake Minnewaska in the Catskills. It is the perfect family friendly hike. The trail itself is easy to moderate but the views of the lake are stunning. When you reach the end of the loop there is a small sandy beach where you can kick off your shoes and go for a refreshing, well-deserved swim.
3. The Precipice Trail, Mount Tom, Woodstock, Vermont
Last summer we camped in Vermont for nine days, and we found so many family-friendly hikes. Max and Theo gave up their seats in the hiking packs and Wesley claimed his. We ambled up Mount Tom on a moderately paced carriage road and enjoyed views of downtown Woodstock and the mountains beyond. We descended on the steep, narrow, and aptly named Precipice Trail. It was the biggest trail challenge we had experienced as a hiking family—and we relished every rocky step.
4. Mount Tammany, Delaware Water Gap, New Jersey
This past Memorial Day we hiked Mount Tammany in the Skylands Region of Northwest New Jersey. The sky over the river was dramatic and so was the hike. The trail was rocky and often steep and it required all of our effort and attention. I would not call this a family-friendly hike…at least not if you have very young kids. But I would call it a full-fledged family adventure. The boys performed admirably—and I am certain that the promise of camp store ice cream had a whole lot to do with it.
The benefits of family hiking don’t end when the hike ends. When we get back to the campground we eat dinner, read the boys their favorite stories in the bunkhouse, and then put those kids to bed. They are so exhausted that they fall asleep the second their heads hit the pillow. This guarantees the parents a whole lot of quality campfire time. Family travel perfection.
Now that we’ve earned our Jayco badge for hiking, what’s next? We’ve got our eyes on the kayaking badge and the fishing badge, and we have a long summer of camping ahead of us. New Hampshire, here we come!
Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi blog about camping and traveling with their three young children at livelylittlecampers.com.