Looking for new ideas for that family summer vacation? It may surprise you but many families are choosing the great outdoors and exploring nature around you. Hiking is a great way to get outdoors and get a little exercise in. Finding the right hiking trail for your family though, might be a difficult task. You want to find a path that is safe and not too strenuous but also interesting so your family can enjoy it the entire time. We took a look at some of the best family-friendly hikes across the United States that you can enjoy as a family.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
We start our list of the best family-friendly hikes with Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier is a popular attraction when you go to Washington, and we understand why. The park will give you stunning views on western Washington and it’s snow-capped peaks. The Sourdough Ridge Trail is a great little adventure your family will enjoy. The trail is located in the Sunrise area of the mark, and it is a one-mile loop that gives you an easy elevation gain.
While hiking, you’ll pass through meadows filled with flowers, and when you get to the top, you’ll get a beautiful panoramic view of ridge tops and vistas. Your kids will love the view but make sure you plan accordingly since the snow will close this area. Summer is the perfect time to do this hike.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Arizona is known for its wide-open space, but your kids might not enjoy that as much. Once you’re into the park, though, their tune will change because of the enormous fallen trees that are made from rock. The Giant Logs Trail is a short hike that is perfect for kids. It’s a 0.4-mile loop that will start at the Rainbow Forest Museum in the park’s southern area.
The hike will lead you to the largest log in the forest, Old Faithful, which is around 170 feet long and more than 9 feet across its base. Your kids can get hands-on experience with the tree and see how they were permeated by water, which caused it to be replaced with hard minerals. There are interpretive panels along the tree that helps explain what happened to it as well.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado – Best Family-Friendly Hikes Across the United States
Colorado is known for having the tallest dunes in the United States, and they’re tucked on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. These dunes spread across 30 square miles, reaching over 700-feet. Although you can’t hike the dunes, it’s a great place to let your kids loose and have some fun. Everyone is welcome to run up and sand dunes and roll down if they want.
The sand can be hot in the summer, so precautions need to be taken. You can also sand sled or sandboard down these dunes if you prefer. You’re free to wander the Dunes Fields as long as you don’t disturb the natural vegetation. You can hike to the summit of High Dune, the second-highest dune, which is a mile-long climb through the sand. If you need to cool off, Medano Creek is nearby.
Muir Woods National Monument, California
If you want to throw your kids straight into a movie, take them to Muir Woods. This national park is known to be a filming spot for Star Wars, and the trees are so tall, you’ll think you were in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The park is located in the north park of San Francisco and features trees that are over 250-feet tall and 14-feet across their base. The average age of redwood in the forest is 600 to 800 years old.
This is a popular spot in San Francisco, so expect more people. The trails are paved and run along the Redwood Creek, where you can cross bridges and even make a loop if you walk between half a mile to two miles. Other trails throughout this park are not paved and a little harder if you want an adventure.
Snow Canyon State Park, Utah
The Scout Cave Trail is located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and is a preserve for the desert tortoise. Within the Snow Canyon State Park, over 38-miles of hiking trails will take yours through the stunning desert.
For a family fun trail, take the 3.58-mile Scout Cave Trail to take you past sandstone rocks and over a lava flow field. It will be a unique experience for your kids and give you a beautiful glimpse of the desert environment.
Ponderosa State Park, Idaho – Best Family-Friendly Hikes Across the United States
If your family is really up for a challenge, try out the Ridgeline Hiking Trail. This trail is only a mile long, but the climb to the summit is a difficult one. You will travel through a rocky lava field and reach the Narrows Overlook and Osprey Cliff Overlook. The view is stunning and a perfect place to snap a new family photo before starting your descend.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Cave tours are a great way to get your family outdoors and engaged. Look into the Frozen Niagara Tour at Kentucky Mammoth Cave. This tour is short for the family, around a quarter of a mile, and easy for younger kids. Your family will love it because it gives breathtaking views of the caves, including Rainbow Dome, Crystal Lake, the Frozen Niagara flowstone, and the Drapery Room.
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
In 1906 this became America’s first national monument and was considered a sacred place by Native Americans. Most people who have visited the Devils Tower National Monument would consider it otherworldly. It’s solidified magma from an ancient volcano, and it rises 867-feet above the rock rubble at its base.
When you get to the monument, take the 1.3-mile loop trail around the base of it and look at it from all different angles. The shapes will change, and you’ll get different viewpoints and maybe even see a rock climber scaling it.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota – Best Family-Friendly Hikes Across the United States
Of course, we need to add Mount Rushmore here and include the Presidential Trail. We’ve all seen them on television and in books, so why not see it in person? Take in the views of Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln. The best time to view these formations in the early morning.
If you want a closer view, you can walk the half-mile Presidential Trail which will take you to the base of the mountain and pass the studio where Gutzon Borglum worked. You can even rent some audio wands and get a narrated tour.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Hawaii is known to be filled with stunning hiking trails that the family will love. If you’re on the Big Island, be sure to check out the Thurston Lava Tube. It is located right off Crater Rim Drive, and honestly, it’s a little creepy.
The tube was formed when molten lava flowed out of an underground tunnel, leaving it empty. It’s around 450-feet long and lit by electric lights, plus the path is paved. Make sure to check conditions before you leave because the park will be closed in the volcano is active.
These are just a few of our favorite hikes throughout the United States that you can do with the entire family. Most of them are simple walks, while some might get your heart rate up a little. No matter what trail you choose, the whole family will enjoy the sites it brings.