#CLEMAMA: Tell your family, ‘Let’s Take a Hike!’

#CLEMAMA: Tell your family, ‘Let’s Take a Hike!’

Sara and her two daughters at the top of Chimney Tops Trail in the Smoky Mountains. Photo by Sara Carnes

A while ago, my family and I really got into hiking. It’s one of our favorite family activities. I think we love it so much because it doesn’t matter if it’s a local hike, or a hiking trail in one of our national parks — It’s always an adventure. This summer we took our family vacation to the Smoky Mountains. It’s such a great family destination with tons of hiking, and a wide variety of things to do for families.

The great thing about hiking is that you can find trails all over the United States. And, there are tons in Northeast Ohio! Oh, and don’t forget we have a National Park in our backyard with Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I know it can be a little tricky sometimes with little ones to find a hike the whole family can do, so I wanted to let you know about a free app I found called All Trails where you can look up trails in your area and see if they’re listed as easy, moderate, or hard. There are lots of reviews and pictures for you to check out.

Here are a few ideas that we’ve found to make our hikes more enjoyable:

1. Dress for Success. Make sure your kids have good shoes to wear (no sandals).

2. Pack snacks and bring water bottles.

3. Make it fun. Bring a  compass, binoculars, or magnifying glass for them to explore nature!

4. Download the Geocaching App, and turn your hike  into an adventure hunt for buried treasure.

Hiking just makes us happy. It’s actually a proven mood booster. Recent studies have shown it has mental health benefits, too. Plus it’s a great way to get kids active and off their devices. I really believe the earlier you get your kids out in nature, the easier it will be as they grow up. Start them young. Even a short walk along a bike path or around your neighborhood will count as a hike when they are young. Just get them outside and moving. My husband and I like a little more challenging hikes, but it’s important not to push your kids too hard too fast. You want them to enjoy it. So we started off with smaller, easier hikes, and then continued to cultivate them into our little hikers. 

If you’re looking for a nice family hike in Northeast Ohio, here are a few we love. 

1. Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail  (This is also a great bike trail.) 

2. Henry Church Rock in South Chagrin Reservation (Also known as Squaw Rock).

3. The Ledges Trail at Virginia Kendall Park in Peninsula.

4. Nelson-Kennedy Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville.

5. Squires Castle Trail in  the North Chagrin Reservation.

Here’s to your next adventure. And remember it’s not how many miles you walk, but how many smiles you share. You’ll make memories that last a lifetime.

 — Look for Sara’s blog on tips for a trip to the Smokies at conversationswithsara.com

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