From the Mountains to the Rivers: 10 Kid Friendly Hikes Across the USA
Hiking is a great way to connect with nature, take care of our bodies, and create memories with the family. The United States is full of beautiful terrains like mountains, rivers, valleys, wetlands, beaches, and more for us to explore. If you’re looking to take the family hiking but are unsure of where to start, we’ve compiled this list of kid friendly hiking trails across the USA—quite literally. From Hawai’i to Maine, we challenge you to get outside and get moving this summer!
1. Halema’uma’u Steam Bluff and Sulfur Banks Trail
Park: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Hawai’i)
Trail length: 1.3 miles
Get ready to be transported to another world on the Halema’uma’u Steam Bluff and Sulfur Banks Trail! A lush jungle riddled with hot springs, steam vents, and views of Hawai’i’s craters, this trail takes you on a nice and easy hike, perfectly suitable for young kids. The trail is mostly shaded by trees, and the paved path makes for easy walking. It’s quite humid here, so remember to drink plenty of water!
2. Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
Park: Yosemite National Park (California)
Trail length: 1 mile
The Lower Yosemite Falls Trail takes you on a quick stroll to Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in northern America. The kids will be in awe of the powerful water crashing on the rocks below. During the springtime months, Yosemite Falls is at its finest, fueled by melting winter snow. You’ll definitely want to visit these falls in the spring!
3. Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail
Park: Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
Trail length: 2.9 miles
Hiking the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail is one of the best ways to experience the incredible views and unique rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park. On this trail, you’ll walk amongst towering hoodoos, tall and skinny rock formations created by water erosion. Make sure you’re taking lots of rest breaks, because the brilliant hues of the red, orange, and white colored sandstones will truly take your family’s breath away!
4. Dream Lake Trail
Park: Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
Trail length: 2.2 miles
Rocky Mountain National Park’s Dream Lake Trail takes you to a crystal clear lake, picturesque views, and fun bridge crossings. The waters of Dream Lake are so clear that many hikers are able to see the schools of cutthroat trout swimming throughout the lake. The lake is the perfect location for a family picnic, with the magnificent Rocky Mountains reflected in its shimmering waters.
5. River Scene Trail Loop
Park: Castlewood State Park (Missouri)
Trail length: 3.1 miles
The River Scene Trail Loop is often heralded as the most spectacular trail in the entire park. The trail first takes you to a series of cliffs overlooking the beautiful Meramec River, then descends into the valley below via wooden staircase. Once in the valley, the kids will have a blast getting up close and personal with the river and its surrounding forests. Don’t forget to take a quick break for a splash attack!
6. Cowles Bog Trail
Park: Indiana Dunes Park (Indiana)
Trail length: 4.7 miles
The Cowles Bog Trail contains such an outstanding amount of plant diversity that it was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1965. The family will have the chance to explore several distinct habitats along the trail, including beaches, wetlands, ponds, and savannas, a unique combination of forest and sand. Be prepared for a quick scramble up the dunes as you make your way past the lake and to the beach. The kids will soon forget the climb as soon as they get to swimming in those beautiful and calming waters.
7. Seneca Rocks Trail
Park: Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area (West Virginia)
Trail length: 2.7 miles
The Seneca Rocks Trail is a well maintained hiking trail that leads to an observation tower overlooking a gorgeous view of the rock faces. There are plenty of benches along the trail at various vista points, perfect for a quick snack break or catching your breath. Spruce Knob is also known for being a great spot to gaze at the Potomac River or go rock climbing, for those more adventurous hikers.
8. Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop via Forbidden Drive
Park: Wissahickon Valley Park (Pennsylvania)
Trail length: 9.4 miles
It’s incredibly easy to spend all day wandering the Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop. With beautiful views of the creek, covered bridge crossings, and choruses of chickadee, blue jay, and woodpecker chirps, this trail is wilderness at its finest. There are plenty of spots by the river where the whole family can relax, eat, and splash in the water! There is plenty to explore no matter how far you go on this 9.4 mile trail.
9. Taughannock North Rim Trail and South Rim Trail Loop
Park: Taughannock Falls State Park (New York)
Trail length: 2.9 miles
If you enjoy stair hikes, this one’s for you! Get ready to climb a lot of steps on the Taughannock North Rim Trail and South Rim Trail Loop. After conquering the stairs, you’ll follow a tranquil woodland path to the stunning Falls Overlook. If the kids are feeling extra adventurous, there is a path where the two trails meet that takes you to a spot directly under the falls.
10. South Bubble Mountain Trail and Jordan Pond Loop
Park: Acadia National Park (Maine)
Trail length: 1.4 miles
The South Bubble Mountain Trail is a kid favorite! The trail is a fun hike up to the South Bubble, a rock formation perched on the edge of a steep cliff face, so close it looks like it could be pushed off the edge! (As long as you heed trail signs, the trail is very safe). After spending some time climbing around the Bubble, the Jordan Pond Loop will take you to a beautiful body of water with scenic views.