It’s so important to get children out into nature when they’re young, but we know it’s vital to choose an adventure they can handle. We’ve put together this list of trails because they’re flat, short, easily modified, and not too far from a bathroom!
This wildlife hotspot is the perfect place to introduce young children to the beauty of the natural world and is only a short hike from the nearest trailhead.
As all parents know, happy kids can often make for happy field trips. It’s a rare time when you get to Beaver Marsh and don’t see some sort of animal and avian activity from March through Thanksgiving. The trail becomes a great boardwalk to stroll and very much a feast for the eyes. Try spotting a beaver with your tot in the early morning or around dusk!
30 years ago, this area was a bit post-industrial and littered with rusted-out cars, farm equipment, and so on. Some very passionate nature lovers cleaned up this section of the park and, in a way that only Mother Nature could oversee, the namesake beavers in the area did the work to create the marshlands. The lesson here for all of us (kids included) is awesome: Hard work, perseverance, and the trust in nature to restore itself—with care and continued oversight—can save sanctuaries like this all over the world.
Blue Hen Falls
This lovely waterfall, and its tributary stream, can capture the imagination of any child and requires just a very short hike. Because of its short and easy nature, children of all ages will love it – you and your little hiker can knock out a good hike in 30-40 minutes’ time. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t linger. Blue Hen Falls makes for a great family hike, filled with lush surroundings and one of Cuyahoga Valley’s most beautiful, famous waterfalls.
Split rail fencing separates hikers from the rocky overhang, so small children may require some additional supervision.
Brandywine Falls is one of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s most inspiring views. Kids will love the awe-inspiring 65-foot waterfall, and climbing the stairs between the upper and lower deck is a fun adventure without a long hike.
There are stairs, boardwalks, and landings at top and bottom, which all lend to beautiful views and photo opportunities. Because Brandywine Falls can be reached directly by car and offer handicapped accessibility for part of the trail, everyone in the whole extended family can enjoy these falls without a hike. Thanks to the beauty of the changing seasons, this moderate hike is a popular destination year-round.
Pine Grove & Forest Point Trails
For children who want to explore a more secluded trail, these short loops are great for introducing them to the rigors of hiking—on a small scale. These are family-friendly trails that caterto kids and beginners.
By themselves or linked together, these are beautiful hikes filled with deciduous greenery as well as hemlock, oak, wildflowers, switchgrass, and other foliage. While Pine Grove is moderately strenuous, it’s not steep or so perilous as to separate friends and family based on skill set. With the right footwear, everyone in your group can enjoy a hike or run here and still have plenty of time and energy to explore other sections of the park. For a full-day adventure, bring along a picnic and spend some time enjoying a meal together.
This 2.-75 mile trail with gentle hills is a perfect challenge for adventurous young ones. A smooth, wide loop, Tree Farm Trail serves as home to a whole host of woodland creatures (rabbits, squirrels, moles, chipmunks and the occasional deer). It’s a bit like “Bambi” come to life and families in particular are bound to enjoy everything about it. Hikes and trail runs are good here. It has everything great about the CVNP in one place: a beautiful pond (where anglers can be spotted occasionally tossing in a line) with a beautiful loop that doesn’t push visitors to their limits. Bring a picnic and enjoy the views Horseshow Pond afterward.
Looking for more experiences to give your young one? Sign them up for summer camp! For a limited time only, receive FREE before and after care when you register your child. Enter promo code FreeCareEEC at checkout until June 20. To see all of our summer camp offerings, click here.