Hiking is a wonderful reason to get outside, exercise and reclaim your relationship with nature. It is not as stressful as one may think and the benefits of realigning your mental health is endless. As an avid hiker, with kids ranging in age from 13 to 4, I have learned to incorporate what I love into stress-free moments together. These five family friendly hikes are perfect to get you started!
Hike #1-The Noland Trail
Located: (100 Museum Dr. Newport News, VA) There are two ways to access this trail, one from the Mariners Museum and the other from Lion’s Bridge. I definitely prefer Lion’s bridge, because of water overlook access. This less than 5-mile hike is perfect for little people and the paths are easily manipulated. Wagons or jogging strollers are the best choice. Terrain is slightly uneven and some uphill. Our family was able to do this hike in 2 1/2 hours.
Preferred season is anytime, although a mild winter day helped us get outside and feel good afterwards!
Hike #2- Tom Rhodes Tree Carving Trail
Located: (211 Wallace St. Warsaw, VA) A wonderful just have fun exploring hike great for any age. Eighty carvings located throughout 11-acres of private property. Not to worry Tom invites the public to come explore his property, you may even get to meet the tree carver himself, as we did. The hard packed paths are NOT stroller/wheelchair accessible, as this is walking through a very natural forest. I recommend utilizing the laminated check off sheet provided, which is located next to the large tree you cannot miss in the front. We were finished within 1 1/2 hours.
Preferred season is spring, early summer or fall.
Hike #3- Windsor Castle
Located: (705 Cedar St. Smithfield, VA) Just under 4-miles you can easily walk the trail without kids in 1/2 hour, with all aged kids plan on 2 hours. There are stopping points along the way, such as natural playgrounds, slides built into hills, overlook benches to take a break, bridges for crossing and lots of time for dawdling. Paths are difficult for strollers. I recommend a kid-backpack carrier or wagon. And do not forget about the many geocaches hidden throughout this trail, which will have you exploring off-the-beaten some.
Preferred season spring, early summer, fall and winter.
Hike #4- Fingers Lake Trail
Located: (401 Kings Hwy. Suffolk, VA) This all ages trail is situated inside Lone Star Park and accessed from the equestrian trail. A beautiful quiet hike winding through a myriad of trees. It does parallel the water some, but one is truly secluded within your own self. Just under a 5-mile hike and can be completed in 2-hours or less. IF you have feral kids like I do this is the place to be! Don’t forget to geocache while hiking, there are some pretty cool caches in there.
Preferred season spring or fall, summer is high insects.
Hike #5- Grandview Nature Preserve
Located: (State Park Dr, Hampton, VA) A 15-minute walk leads you to a beautiful isolated spot featuring access to the bay. Great for all ages and stroller friendly, until you reach the sand. It feels like an endless walk on the beach with a plethora of shells, wildlife, and beauty. Plan on a few hours, take a picnic, blanket and just enjoy a very quiet piece of nature.
Preferred season spring, summer or fall. Note: summer foot-traffic may be unusually higher and NO bathrooms.
“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.” ~Karen Wilson Baker
There are no words when your relationship with nature becomes a place to breathe, think and unwind. I find my mental health is restored when I spend time enjoying what was created on this earth! Learn to take pleasure in the beauty of silence, and teach your children to do the same with these 5-family friendly hikes.