The United States is home to 59 national parks and thousands of state parks, perfect for families to explore. Although, not every state is home to a national park, every state across the nation provides plenty of opportunities to get outside, enjoy nature and take a short hike. From coastal Maine to arid Utah, check out these six locations for some of the best family-friendly hiking that can be found.
Utah: Arches National Park
Utah is home to five national parks that illustrate the diversity of a desert landscape. Arches is one of the easier to access parks in Utah and provides several hikes that are perfect for novice hikers, as well as children.
Delicate Arch, perhaps the most famous destination within the park, offers stunning views of the arch and the surrounding landscape after an easy, 10 minute, half-mile hike to the first viewpoint. Courthouse Wash, with no elevation gain, is as simple as a walk-in-the-park and is home to several examples of ancient rock art. Even just a quick drive through the park presents visitors with stunning vistas!
Colorado: Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
Colorado, the land of the Rockies, boasts numerous trails, parks, and scenic byways that are all beautiful. The Maroon Bells are considered to be one of the most photographed locations in America, and it’s pretty obvious why—mountains surround numerous, glassy alpine lakes that reflect the mountains’ beauty. In summer, meadows filled with brightly colored wildflowers to add to the allure.
Maroon Lake Loop and Falls Trail (also a loop) are both under 2 miles in length and will give your family a first-hand look at the ecology of this Aspen grove.
Missouri: Mastadon State Historic Site
Perhaps more famous for its history, Mastadon State Historic Site also has three hiking trails that are modest in length. The shortest, at 0.40 miles, takes visitors and future paleontologists down to the Kimmswick Bone Bed, where the first evidence of American mastodons was discovered.
Wisconsin: Amnicon Falls State Park
Amnicon Falls State Park offers 2 miles of nature trails that pass along the rapids and waterfalls of the Amnicon River. If you’re visiting Wisconsin during winter, as this park is open year-round for the brave travelers, make sure all hikers are prepared and outfitted for inclement weather.
Tennessee: Smoky Mountain National Park
Admission to Smoky Mountain National Park is free and is a great place to introduce kids to hiking and exploring nature. The Kephart Prong Trail still has the remnants of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp from the logging era, a fish hatchery from the 1930s, and offers the opportunity to see plenty of wildlife. It’s a nature walk through history that’s fascinating for adults and children, alike.
Maine: Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park has 125 miles of historic trails that offer views of evergreen forests, ponds, and the ocean shoreline. Many trails can be combined to make short loops, or are already designed in this way. The Wonderland Trail is one of three less-than 2 miles hikes that invite hikers to indulge in their sense of fantasy. Several areas near the ocean are perfect for a family picnic in the afternoon.
Whether your family is new to hiking or you’re experienced trailblazers, each state has a new trail that’s out there waiting for you to explore it!