By Hilary Gunn
Whether you’re an experienced outdoorsman, or just looking to get out of the city for an afternoon, the hiking trails of Pennsylvania are both stunning and child friendly! Bring a picnic and a swimsuit, or just your sneakers and good old fashioned determination, and hit the trails for incredible views, wildlife, and magnificent geological formations.
At just about 1.5 miles-long, the George W. Childs Park Trail is one of the best options for families with little ones, or those looking for a more leisurely jaunt. Enjoy a lake, waterfalls, and plenty of natural beauty, including some seriously great birdwatching. Plenty of nearby, similar trails allow for a customized hike of different lengths, should you chose to make a day of it!
A slightly more moderate option, measuring just about three miles-long. The Meadow Run Trail boasts views of multiple waterfalls, the Youghiogheny River, and a breathtaking gorge. After a more difficult first quarter mile, the trail eases and families can expect stunning vistas, loads of ecological exploration, and even two very cool natural water slides formed by rock.
Set on a defunct railway, this trail measures just over five miles and is perfect for families looking for a longer hike that still maintains a kid-friendly level of difficulty. Due to its railroad history, the trail itself is largely flat, and offers a great opportunity to teach children about both local ecology and the fascinating history and engineering behind our nation’s rails. Lose yourself in the bucolic country of Lancaster County, peaceful horse farms, and the lovely Conewago Creek.
Shawmut Trail is an all-seasons treasure. At about two miles in length, this Smethport gem is suitable for even the youngest hikers, and a stop at Hamlin Lake makes it fun for the whole family. Take in the incredible natural beauty of the area, and spend some time boating or fishing on the lake, for an unforgettable family experience.
Whether you bring your horse, your dog, or just your little ones, a trip to Cook Forest State Park is a must for Pennsylvania families. Camp out, or just spend an afternoon, and explore this incredible natural resource near Erie. Bring a book on local plant life and become an amateur botanist, or keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, including the sometimes-spotted area black bear!