The warmer days are on their way in so that means it is the perfect time to plan your outdoor adventures. Families looking for scenic vistas, massive waterfalls, unique landscapes and even hikes around volcanoes should scroll through this list of hikes that are perfect for families. It’s time to hit the trail!

photo: Audrey Hall

1. Big Waterfalls in Big Sky Montana

Ousel Falls Park Trail is a 1.6-mile out and back trail located near Gallatin Gateway, Montana that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from May until October. You'll find benches along the way and an amazing waterfall at the end.

Hit the trail: alltrails.com

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photo: Visit Mammoth

2. Epic Sights, Epic Hike on the Panorama Dome Trail in Mammoth, CA

If you're looking for 360-degree, breathtaking views, the Panorama Dome Trail should be on your list. Pick up the trailhead from trolley stop 95 and hike the 0.3-mile trail uphill to the top of Panorama Dome. Just be sure to remember, you are hiking at high altitude, so you'll need to take more breaks and carry extra water. After you've had your fill of the view, head back down the way you came up.

Hit the trail: visitmammoth.com

3. Get a taste of history on Mt. Rushmore’s Presidential Trail.

And you thought it was all about the scenery. Add an exciting historical spot to your family hike and you’ll be rewarded with a double dose of “America is awesome” from your crew. The Presidential Trail is a short 0.6-mile loop, so it’s manageable for little legs, and they’ll love getting to see the monument from all different angles.

Hit the trailnps.gov

4. Explore the Natural Bridges in Cody, WY

The small town of Cody is close to numerous hiking trails and features easy access to the east and northeast entrances to Yellowstone National Park, so hikers can also use Cody as a home base for exploring the many trails in Yellowstone. One fun hike is to head up the North Fork of the Shoshone River and hike to Blackwater Natural Bridge. This natural arch is estimated between 70 and 100 feet tall and is located at an elevation of 10,777 feet. Natural arches (some people call them natural bridges) formed when creeks eroded the softer rock and left harder layers above.

Hit the trail: codyyellowstone.org 

5. Go behind a waterfall at Silver Falls State Park.

Finding a gorgeous waterfall on a hike feels like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. You'll hit the jackpot at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, where an incredible forest treats you to waterfalls galore. Although the 7.2 mile Trail of Ten Falls is a bit much for younger kids, there are still plenty of falls to be seen on a variety of shorter trails that are just as captivating.

Hit the trail: oregonstateparks.org

6. Trek through Joshua Tree National Park.

With a lack of noticeable landmarks, desert hiking takes a little navigation know-how and a sense of adventure. Be sure to pack plenty of water and slather your little trail guides with sunscreen for this one. Then watch for cairns to find your way from one view to the next. It will be as inspiring to your tiny hikers as it was to U2.

Hit the trailnps.gov

photo: Maumee Bay Lodge & Conference Center

7. Ecology is Everything Near Lake Erie

Just steps away from Maumee Bay Lodge of the Great Ohio Lodges is a two-mile interpretive boardwalk hike surrounded by 80 acres of wetlands and anchored by the Milton B. Trautman Nature Center. It’s easy to forget you’re actually learning about ecology, migration, annual habitat and the fascinating world of bogs and marshes as you cruise along. 

Hit the trail: maumeebaylodge.com

photo: Kate Loweth

8. See the Great Sequoias in Yosemite

A kid-favorite trial in Yosemite is the Tuolomne Grove Nature Trail because you are rewarded with some massive Giant Sequoias, including one you can walk through. It’s a mile downhill from the parking lot to the grove where you then take a half-mile loop to see all the sequoias. The mile climb back uphill can be a little bit challenging for little legs but the route is paved and there are info stations along the way that explain the history of this road in the gold rush days. In the fall you’ll be rewarded with all shades of reds and oranges from the Dogwood trees.

Hit the trail: yosemite.com

9. Hike in the Grand Canyon.

Easy hike in, tough hike out. When it comes to canyons, the Grand Canyon wins every time. Canyon hiking is the antithesis of other hiking experiences, so be sure to spend time above and in the canyon to get the full effect. You’ll find plenty of trails that showcase the canyon without being too difficult for your smallest hikers.

Hit the trail: nps.gov

10. Hike through Muir Woods National Forest in Mill Valley, California.

Hiking through a redwood forest is the quintessential forest hike for a reason: Being dwarfed by massive old-growth trees helps to put it all in perspective. Plus, it helps you get a kid’s eye view of things.

Hit the trail: nps.gov

11. Explore Crater Lake in Oregon.

Scoop the loop around a local lake with your little ranger. Most lakeside hikes are simple and flat, which make them great for kids. Crater Lake is the bluest lake in the world and definitely worth a visit.

Hit the trail: nps.gov

12. Climb to the Statue of Liberty's crown.

City monuments, skyscrapers and even steep thoroughfares make for great urban climbs. The views from Lady Liberty’s crown are definitely worth it, but plan ahead! Tickets need to be purchased in advance, and kids must be at least four feet tall to go all the way up.

Hit the trail (stairs): nps.gov

photo: Kate Loweth

13. Measure Up to a Cactus in Mesa, AZ

See the Sonoran Desert in action when you stop by the Usery Mountain Regional Park Nature Center in Mesa. The Desert Hawk trail is a 0.5-mile loop that will give you tons of lizard viewing and desert landscape. Make sure you ask at the Nature Center where you can find the desert tortoise habitat as the kids will love spotting Al under a bush.

Hit the trail: hikearizona.com

14. See snow in the summer at Mt. Rainier National Park.

This seasonal twist is a pure delight to kids who were just wearing shorts and swimming in the pool a few hours earlier. Altitude is key to finding snow on a hot summer day, so plan for lots of up, up, up along the way. But once you get there, it’s way worth it. And a snowball is a must.

Hit the trail: nps.gov

15. Hike a Loop around Prescott, AZ

The Prescott Circle Trail is a network of our best non-motorized trails that combine to make a 54 mile loop around Prescott, Arizona. The trail comes as close as three miles to downtown Prescott and is easily accessible with 15 trailheads along its length. A lap of the PCT has about 6000 feet of elevation gain and can be enjoyed as an adventurous one or two day trip or a multi-day trip over a period of days, weeks or months. 

Hit the trail: prescotttrails.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Waterfall and Rain Forrest in Maui

If your hiking goals include walking through a literal jungle, then this is the trail for you. On the road to Hana, look for the signs for Twin Falls and the small parking lot there. There are tons of pools for wading, creeks to cross and waterfall to swim under. Refresh after your walk with a coconut from the snack shack on the property. 

Hit the trail: alltrails.com

17. Head to the shores of La Push, Washington.

The Pacific coast is a natural playground. With driftwood, tide pools and sea stacks to explore, this Washington beach trail is a favorite of kids and families. Want to make a camping weekend out of it? You’ll find beach camping and a few sites in the forest so you can stay and play even longer.

Hit the trailnps.gov

photo: Kate Loweth

18. Check Out the Range Lights in Bailey's Harbor, WI

On your next visit to Door County, head to the Ridges Sanctuary where your visit begins with a stop at the nature center. Learn about the flora and fauna that makes this area such a lush ecosystem and then join in a guided hike through the property. You’ll get to see the iconic Bailey's Harbor Range Lights (similar to lighthouses and still in use to guide ships into the harbor). Bonus for families: the boardwalks on the property are particularly stroller friendly.

Hit the trail: ridgessanctuary.org

19. Take an urban hike over the Hudson River.

You don’t always have to wander to the woods for a great hike. Take advantage of the best of what cities have to offer a fun urban hike. This former double track railroad bridge is now an enormous pedestrian walkway spanning the Hudson River. The Walkway Over the Hudson Loop Trail takes you over two bridges and through nine “Discovery Zones,” so you can make a day of it. Want to try some more urban hikes? We’ve got ideas for you.

Hit the trail: walkway.org

20. Catch a glimpse of wildflowers in North Carolina.

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the flowers. Lucky for you, there are wildflowers a-plenty along the colorful Max Patch Mountain trail in North Carolina. With such a picturesque mountaintop scene, don’t be surprised if you’re inspired to throw your arms wide, spin around and start singing, Sound of Music-style. 

Hit the trail: ashevilletrails.com

21. Discover a secret disappearing trail to Bar Island in Maine.

Kids will love this “magical” Bar Harbor trail that appears and disappears. Low tide reveals a walkable sandbar that takes you to the island to explore. The path is only there for a few hours, so be sure to check tide times and take a watch so you can cross back in plenty of time!

Hit the trail: barharbormaine.gov

22. Find foliage in Pennsylvania.

Incredible canyon views, overlooks and hiking trails await in the Keystone State’s Pine Creek Gorge, known as Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon. The Overlook Trail is an easy 0.6-mile hike that’s great for families with small kids and has sights that will totally impress.

Hit the trail: pacanyon.com

23. See wildlife in the Everglades.

Spotting wildlife on a hike is always a thrill, and you won’t be disappointed on the Anhinga Trail in Florida. Egrets, turtles, birds and even a gator or two might make an appearance along this spot in Everglades National Park. Paved paths and boardwalks make this one easy.

Hit the trailnps.gov

24. Experience enchantment in Texas.

This natural area in Texas is extremely popular, and it’s easy to see why. The park has over 400 archaeological sites, and the large pink dome-shaped granite rock is steeped in history and legends. The Summit Trail will treat you to the outstanding scenery. Although it’s short, the trail is steep in some places, so might be better for older kids.

Hit the trail: tpwd.texas.gov

photo: Anna Doogan

25. Hike the surreal landscape of the Badlands.

The spectacular terrain inside Badlands National Park is unlike anything else you’ve seen. The easy Fossil Exhibit Trail stays along a boardwalk and has exhibits of creatures that once roamed the area.

Hit the trail: nps.gov

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

26. Hike the Haleakala Crater on Maui.

When you get right down to it, hiking into a volcano with your mini-me is as cool as it sounds. The views are unforgettable and finding one that’s hike-able usually means an awesome family vacay is in progress. Exploring this one is as close as you’ll get to walking on the moon without blasting off. #winning

Hit the trailnps.gov

27. Waterfall Goals on Casper Mountain, WY

Located a 15-minute drive from downtown Casper is Casper Mountain. Start your hike on Casper Mountain's Bridle Trail with a visit to Rotary Park and Garden Creek Falls. The trail starts at the base of the falls, with stops along the way that include scenic overlooks of the city and Wyoming's rolling plains, the waterfall below and the opportunity to see wildlife (like deer, grouse and more) along the way. The entire loop is nearly 5 miles long and hikers go through a rock tunnel known as split rock. There's also a "west loop" for hikers looking for a shorter trek. 
 
Hit the trail: visitcasper.com

28. Hike to Vikingsholm Castle in Emerald Bay, Tahoe.

Send yourself back in time with a jaunt through the forest that ends at the door of a real castle. Built over 80 years ago, at the bottom of Emerald Bay State Park, Vikingsholm is an architectural wonder that will impress hikers of all ages. The trail is a straight shot down the mountain with a steep return trek and is probably best for older kids and/or kids in backpacks.

Hit the trail: vikingsholm.com

29. Think Lights, Camera, Action! with a hike to the Hollywood sign.

Get ready for your close up with Los Angeles’s most iconic sign when you take a hike up into the Hollywood Hills. For a kid-friendly trek, start at the Charlie Turner Trailhead and hike the Mt Hollywood Trail to get an amazing view of those 45-foot high letters.

Hit the trailhollywoodsign.org

30. Hike the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

Pull on your rain boots and pack a slicker for this wet and woodsy walk among the trees. Nothing beats a rainforest hike on a sweltering summer day when quiet shade and mossy trees mean refuge from the sun’s rays.

Hit the trailnps.gov

31. Enjoy amazing views hiking Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado.

Hiking’s all about the journey, not the destination (or so you thought). But sometimes it really should be about the destination. Especially when there’s a stunning view that goes with it. You get two views for the price of one when you catch the mountain reflected in the lake below.

Hit the trail: colorado.com

32. Hike an interstate trail, like the Pacific Crest.

Even if you don’t cross from one state to the next on your trip, hiking an interstate trail is always a blast. Spotting backpackers making their way across the country on foot is nothing short of inspiring, and boy, do they have stories to share!  

Hit the trail: fs.usda.gov

33. Explore a cedar forest at Glacier National Park.

You could spend days adventuring in Glacier National Park, but a hike definitely needs to be on your to-do list. The easy Trail of the Cedars loop is perfect for the smallest hikers. Marvel at the gigantic trees, find a waterfall and enjoy the flora and fauna. For a more challenging hike, you can continue on to the Avalanche Lake trail, or finish the loop and set off on the next adventure.

Hit the trail: visitmt.com/trail-of-the-cedars

34. Enjoy the view from Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail on Oahu.

This scenic 1.5-mile trail is paved, meaning you can take that stroller along! You’ll be rewarded with ocean views, and maybe even a whale sighting, depending on the season. If you and your crew are early birds, the morning sunrise from this spot can’t be beaten.

Hit the trail: dlnr.hawaii.gov

35. Slot Canyons and Sandstone Cliffs in Zion

Sandstone cliffs, slot canyons and animal wildlife are all part of the wonder of Zion National Park in Utah. Try a kid-friendly hike, like the Emerald Pool trail where you can check out the gorgeous waterfall views. For a fun way for families to learn more about Zion together, head over to the Nature Center. Daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, youth programs specifically for children and families are offered, and last 30-45 minutes, so they're just the right length for your mini explorers.

Hit the trail: nps.gov

—Kate Loweth, Anna Doogan, Gabby Cullen and Allison Sutcliffe

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