Top Eight Family-Friendly Hikes in U.S. National Parks

Nation­al Park Week is this week and the per­fect time to start think­ing about how to enjoy the parks with more than just your­self. For those with kids, our Nation­al Parks are about the best place to take the lit­tle ones for not just great mem­o­ries, but also to instill in them a love of the out­doors. But hik­ing with chil­dren can be dif­fi­cult. The trail can’t be too long, or too steep—but should still be enough of a chal­lenge to keep them from boredom.

Here’s a list of the 8 best bets on tak­ing your whole fam­i­ly hik­ing in the U.S. Nation­al Parks:

Acadia Carriage Roads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aca­dia Nation­al Park, Maine
Car­riage Roads
Out on the coast of Maine in Aca­dia Nation­al Park, you’ll find 50 miles of car­riage roads with grav­el paths that are 16-feet wide, meant for walk­ers, bicy­clists, and horse­back rid­ers. The roads are closed to motor­ized vehi­cles, so you’ll nev­er have to wor­ry about vehic­u­lar traf­fic, and you and your fam­i­ly can admire the land­scape of Mount Desert Island. The trail is nev­er too steep, mak­ing it great for the youngest in your family—even if they’re in strollers.

 

 

Zion Nation­al Park, Utah
Weep­ing Rock
Weep­ing Rock isn’t a long hike by any means—it’s only a half-mile round trip—but it is pret­ty steep. And you can see a lot of the land­marks Zion has to offer at the top, so it’s def­i­nite­ly worth it. If you want a lit­tle more dis­tance, try the Canyon Over­look Trail, which is 1‑mile round trip and gives you a view of all of Zion’s Switch­backs and low­er Zion Canyon.

Sourdough Ridge Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Rainier, Washington
Sour­dough Ridge Trail
Sour­dough Ridge Trail rewards hik­ers with a fan­tas­tic view of Washington’s snow­capped peaks. The trail makes an easy 1‑mile loop in the sub­alpine zone in the Sun­rise area of the park, and it’s a great hike to intro­duce your fam­i­ly to the mountains.

Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming Base Loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devil’s Tow­er Nation­al Mon­u­ment, Wyoming
Base Loop
Devil’s Tow­er is def­i­nite­ly one of the coolest nat­u­ral­ly formed rock for­ma­tions in the nation. With its flat top and carved-look­ing sides, it’s not the kind of mon­u­ment you just stop and take pic­tures of. No, get out of your car and take your kids on the walk around it to get a view of every angle.

Arches National Park, Utah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arch­es Nation­al Park, Utah
Del­i­cate Arch Hike
A red-rocked desert land­scape with more stone arch­es than any­where else on the plan­et, Arch­es Nation­al Park is a must-see. The hike to Del­i­cate Arch, the main attrac­tion, is a lit­tle long for kids at 3 miles, but it’s absolute­ly worth it for the awe­some view you’ll get of La Sal Moun­tains off in the distance.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Sand Dunes Nation­al Park and Pre­serve, Colorado
Dunes Fields
This is less a hike than just a fun fam­i­ly out­ing in one of the country’s coolest Nation­al Parks. With some of the tallest sand dunes in North Amer­i­ca, Great Sand Dunes offers a per­fect day of sand-sled­ding, ski­ing or just rolling down.

 

Yosemite Nation­al Park, California
Mist Trail to Ver­nal Falls
The Mist Trail is one of the more dif­fi­cult on this list and is prob­a­bly not best for younger chil­dren since it’s a lit­tle long with a decent amount of ele­va­tion gain—but the sub­lime view is absolute­ly worth the hike. Plus, you’ll cool down on even the hottest days thanks to the mist spray from the falls.

 

Hawaii Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park, Hawaii
Thurston Lava Tube
Be sure to check the con­di­tions before you head to Hawaii Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park, since this is one of the most vol­cani­cal­ly-active places in the world. Young chil­dren might be a lit­tle afraid of the Thurston Lava Tube, since it’s an under­ground tun­nel formed by molten lava—but old­er kids will like­ly have an awe­some time. Oh and don’t wor­ry, there are lights strung up just in case you’re prone to claustrophobia.