Hiking together as a family is a great bonding activity. Children and adults of all ages can hike with a little bit of planning. In the past few months, we have picked up hiking as a family hobby and I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it has been for our family. Each weekend, we fill our water bottles, grab some snacks and throw on our hiking shoes and visit a new place to hike. We spend the morning talking to each other about our week, dreams we have, and things we want to do. The kids take turns leading us along and pointing out the flowers, birds and other things they find along the way. Because we haven’t done much hiking, we have started out with short, easy to moderate hikes.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is home to bison, prairie dogs, birds, coyotes, deer and more. Plan to spend at least half an hour in the Visitor Center where you can wander through the interactive exhibits, do an activity, or check out a backpack with binoculars and other hiking essentials. Near the Visitor Center, be sure to keep a lookout for prairie dogs. They are everywhere! After visiting the center, we did the self-guided Wildlife Drive where we saw bison running around and playing and a deer grazing. Then we parked in the lot and walked the Lake Ladora Trail. This trail is 1.8 miles and circles around. It is an easy walk on a gravel and dirt trail.
One of the places we really wanted to visit after moving to Denver was the Red Rocks Amphitheater. While I am hoping to go back to Red Rocks to see a concert, this time we were there with the kids during the day. We parked near the Trading Post and the amphitheater and hiked the Trading Post Trail. This trail was very busy while we were there. The trail is 1.4 miles and is easy to moderate at times. The trail is less than 30 inches wide for some of the trail so be careful. Make sure your children don’t run ahead and supervise them well because there are lots of steep drop offs and road crossings. The cars do not all drive slowly as they should. There were a number of steps and we were headed in the direction where we had to walk up the steps rather than down. After hiking the Trading Post Trail, we visited the amphitheater and watched the people exercising and the kids running around the stage.
Probably the most difficult trail of the three is the South Rim Trail at Roxborough State Park. The South Rim Trail is 3.0 miles and wanders through the rocks and wooded areas. We didn’t see any wildlife on this trail because we spent much of the time avoiding the icy and muddy patches. I am looking forward to visiting this trail in the summertime when the snow and ice patches are gone. The trail is moderate and is a small trail for most of the way. Like the Red Rocks Trail, there are many places where there are steep drop-offs and skinny trails so I kept my children very close to me. If this trail does not sound like something you want to do, try the Fountain Valley trail, which was recommended by the park rangers for the family. It is an easy to moderate 2.3 mile hike. Stop by the Visitor Center before you hike to get advice from the rangers and borrow walking sticks.