Taking your grandchildren hiking is an amazing experience! It’s an opportunity to create special memories and take part in their increasing awareness of nature. But choosing the right trail can be difficult, especially if the kids are very young or in their hard to please teenage years.
These three outdoor destinations offer exactly what you need for a special wilderness adventure. Each has fully accessible trails, is near a multitude of other attractions, and will take you to some of the greatest natural wonders in North America.
Grand Canyon South Rim, Kaibab Trail, and Greenway Trail
There might not be a more memorable place on earth to visit than the Grand Canyon. And, it is a fantastic place to take children of all ages. The canyon is huge and offers something for everyone. Even teenagers will be awed by the breathtaking views and sheer magnitude of the terrain.
For the most access to lodging, entertainment, and dining the South Rim is the place to be. With luxury hotels, affordable inns, and numerous campgrounds the area will accommodate any budget. The fully stocked market is a favorite stop in the morning to load up on snacks or supplies for a rim-side picnic lunch.
There are several moderate trails starting on the South Rim. All will provide commanding views of the Canyon, North Rim, and the Colorado River far below. The best of these treks is the Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge.
This three-mile walk is not for the faint of heart, as it descends directly into the canyon using switchbacks to lessen the grade. Bring plenty of water and strap on your best hiking sandals, maybe even a trekking pole if you have one. But, your effort will be rewarded, even if you turn back at the one-mile mark at the appropriately named Ooh-Ahh Point.
If accessibility is an issue or the kids are too young for a steep descent, the National Park Service has created an excellent Greenway Trail which follows the rim for several miles. The paved walkway makes walking easy while still giving visitors a close look at one of the seven wonders of the world.
Yosemite Valley, Sentinel Meadow & Cook’s Meadow Loop
Just driving through the Yosemite Valley will take your breath away. Everywhere you look is another iconic landmark. Both Half Dome and El Capitan would be worth the trip by themselves but throw in the Giant Sequoias and the tallest waterfall in North America and Yosemite becomes a hiking destination like no other.
The best thing about Yosemite is how close everything is once you get there. You won’t be spending hours in the car, a bonus if the kids are growing restless. Accommodations are available with reservations in the valley and the many towns just outside the park. Of course, campsites are also abundant if you book far enough in advance.
Most of the trails on the valley floor are considered easy to moderate with little or no elevation gain. The best to hike if you are concerned about accessibility is the Sentinel Meadow and Cook’s Meadow Loop. This 2.25-mile trail meanders through two meadows and offers multiple views of Yosemite Falls. Halfway through, you should stop at Sentinel Bridge and take pictures of the Half Dome looming above. For the adventurous, a half-mile spur leads to the Yosemite Falls viewpoint.
The trail is almost entirely wheelchair accessible since being upgraded to a wooden walkway. If you stay at the Yosemite Lodge, parking at the trailhead is free. Even if you are not a guest, the lodge is a great place to eat before or after the trek.
Glacier National Park, Rocky Point – Lake McDonald
Glacier is known as a hiker’s paradise, and for good reason. Glacier National Park holds more than 700 miles of trails ranging from easy walks to treacherous climbs. And, there is plenty to see while trekking with 762 lakes spread throughout the 1500 square miles of parkland.
The best-known body of water is Lake McDonald, and a great hike for all ages can be found at its shore. The Rocky Point Trail is a little over two miles, hugging the lake and traveling through the dense forest. There is an elevation gain of 350 feet which is mild in this part of the world. The trail is wide and well maintained.
Of course, no trip to the Northwest corner of Montana is complete without viewing the glaciers. Twenty-five still remain although some experts say they are in danger of disappearing as soon as the year 2030. Many Glacier is at the center of the park and is a visitor favorite. It can be seen by car, foot, horseback, or boat, depending on how you want to spend the day.
There is plenty to do other than a hike in the park. You can book a tour of the park’s interior with the red bus line or book passage for the day on a boat traveling across Lake McDonald. You can even visit Canada at one of the three international destinations, shared with Waterton Lake Park across the border.
Glacier National Park is home to several wonderful lodges filled with the history of the area. Both the Glacier Park Lodge and the Isaac Walton Inn offer comfortable rooms and dining for weary trekkers at the end of the day.
Go Out and Make Beautiful Memories
There is no greater joy than sharing a memory with your grandchildren that will be sure to stay with them all their lives. Each of these hikes is guaranteed to make a lasting impression. From canyons to glaciers, there is something for everyone on the list, no matter their hiking skill level or age.
Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for hikingmastery.com/.
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