Take a Hike with Your Family
According to the American Hiking Society, November 17th is National Take a Hike Day!
And to top it off, this autumn weather is perfect ‘Goldilocks’ weather for hiking- not too hot and not too cold. Celebrate the day by exploring the great outdoors with your family.
Family Friendly Hiking Trails
Yes, we see snow in your future, so bundle up on this walk through a dark enchanted forest. This 3.8 mile, relatively flat trail runs alongside the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River with plenty of opportunities to stop and skip stones across the creek. The Gatlinburg Trail begins at Sugarland’s Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and ends in the town of Gatlinburg. Great hike for families with smaller kids.
- The Gatlinburg Trailhead at is located at 1420 Fighting Creek Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738- just two miles south of Gatlinburg on HWY 441.
Laurel Falls Trail
One of the more family-friendly hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this 2.6-mile round trip hike takes you to the 80 foot Laurel Falls. The path is stroller friendly but can get slippery when wet. Bundle up though, because this time of year it is cold! Brr
- Laurel Falls Trailhead is located on Little River Road, Gatlinburg, TN, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.
Anna Ruby Falls Trail
Anna Ruby Falls is located in Georgia’s Unicoi State Park near Helen. This under a mile (0.8) trail begins by the visitor center with the endpoint at the falls overlook. It’s a relatively easy hike with a paved path the entire length. Good for families with strollers and small children.
- Anna Ruby Falls Trail is located in Unicoi State Park at 3455 Anna Ruby Falls Rd., Helen, GA
Raven Cliffs Trail
Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest near Helen, Georgia, this 6.6, mile trail is a challenging trek through the wilderness. Roots and rocks add to the terrain, but the waterfall at the end is the siren-call. The trail follows along a small creek and there’s a bigger waterfall at the mid-point- it’s bigger than Raven Cliff Falls at the end of the trail! Great hiking adventure for families with adventurous teens.
- Raven Cliffs Trailhead is located at 3000 Richard Russell Hwy, Helen, GA
The Edge of the World
When you take a hike, it might as well be an epic one! The Edge of the World is located in Dawsonville, Georgia (who knew!?). The trail follows the roaring rapids of the Amicalola River from the trailhead and under the bridge to the Edge of the World Rapids. The boardwalk is stroller friendly, but if you wish to reach the falls themselves, you have to go off-path. You can read about our family journey to the Edge of the World.
Sweetwater Wetlands Park
Not far from La Chua is the more younger-family friendly Sweetwater Wetlands. This water restoration project cleans Sweetwater Creek naturally before it reenters Payne’s Prairie. Sweetwater has become famous for its abundance of birdlife. Kids and adults will enjoy the boardwalks over the wetlands.
- Sweetwater Wetlands Park is located at 325 SW Williston Rd, Gainesville, FL 32601
Gulf Junction of the Withlacoochee Trail
Catch some of Florida’s rays on a hike along the Withlacoochee Trail. This 10-mile section of the trail runs from Highway 19 to the Gulf of Mexico, with views of salt marshes and coastal hammocks. It’s a paved trail, so good for strollers (and even bikes!). There are overlooks along the paths. Bring a lunch and stop for a shady picnic!
- The Gulf Junction Trailhead of the Withlacoochee Trail is located at 2233 West Magenta Drive, Citrus Springs, Florida (It’s off HWY 19, south of Inglis). Drive through the road on the Gulf side of the park to the parking area by the toilets and fishing pavilions.
Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary Boardwalk Trail
This boardwalk trail leads you over the largest old growth bald cypress forest in North America. Part of their 2.25-mile boardwalk trail is still under repairs due to Hurricane Irma, but every visit helps. You still have an opportunity to explore the unique flora and fauna of this Everglades swamp region from above.
- The Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary is located at 375 Sanctuary Road, Naples, Florida 34120
Things to Know Before You Go:
Hiking with Kids
- Cold weather? Dress in layers. When you and the kids start to warm up, you can remove the layers as you go.
- Know your kid’s abilities. A little kid can only walk so far, and without a stroller, mom or dad will end up carrying the tired tot back to the car!
- Tired kids make cranky kids (and temper tantrums!) Your goal is a day out. Take breaks to skip rocks on the stream, eat lunch, and rest. If you have to turn back before the trail’s end, remember, you had a nice day out!
- Cold weather can trick you into thinking you are not thirsty. Bring water in a backpack and stay hydrated.
- Any trash you bring- take out, even scraps of that sandwich. There are bears in the wilderness. They can become a nuisance when they become accustomed to human food.
- For older kids, consider geocaching along your hike for added fun.
Other Stories You May Like:
- 21 Reasons to Love Fall
- The Hidden Japanese Garden in North Central Florida
- Exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast with Kids
- Beneath the Smokies at Tuckaleechee Caverns
- Hunting for Gold at Dahlonega’s Consolidated Gold Mine