Zion National Park

20150425_142938

Lower Emerald Pool Trail:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (1.2 mile round trip to lower emerald pool/waterfall, paved trail)

Weeping Rock Trail:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (.4 mile round trip, 173 ft elevation gain so some steep parts and minor drop offs)

Riverside Walk:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (2.2 mile round trip to river narrows, mostly flat, paved trail)

Last spring we took our kids on their first trip to Zion National Park.  We were only going to be there 1 day so we kept it super easy.  You drive through Zion Canyon on a shuttle bus that has 9 stops.  There are many family friendly hiking and walking trails.  We ended up doing 3 hikes that day.  We decided to do the Lower Emerald Pool Trail, Weeping Rock Trail and Riverside Walk.  We also stopped at many of the scenic stops and lookouts along the way.  The trails we hiked were beautiful, mostly paved and easy to navigate, but there are a lot of tourists since it is very popular.  I can’t wait to go back and try some of the less traveled and more difficult hikes.  I also want to hike The Narrows with my kids when they are older.   It was a dreary day with a light drizzle of rain, but it was beautiful and my kids did really well.  They were exhausted by the end of the day of course!  I feel like Zions gives you beautiful scenery and fun hiking trails without you feeling like you are out in the middle of the wilderness, so I think it is perfect for families and beginner hikers.  You have easy access to modern amenities and the paved trails and railings help even the youngest of hikers. On the flip side there are more wilderness type hikes and strenuous options for those looking for that as well.   You could easily spend several days here or make a good day trip like we did.

Here is the link to Zion National Park website.

DSC_0594DSC_0636DSC_067120150425_15063720150425_142619My son loved Weeping Rock and was trying to catch droplets of water in his mouth.20150425_15133620150424_152523The Lower Emerald Pool features this water cascading off of the cliff above.20150425_152729Riverside Walk trail ends at the start of The Narrows, it’s quite majestic and the kids loved playing in the water and on the rocks.  However, we couldn’t manage to take a normal family picture here.  Don’t mind our awkward facial expressions.DSC_067520150424_150301This girl was 18 months and was barely taking a few steps (she was a very late walker) so I carried her all day.  Lot’s of people laughed at how funny she looked in my little carrier with her super long legs.20150424_15284020150425_15133920150424_153035Another angle of Lower Emerald Pool.

 

5 Favorite Nature Trails

I mentioned in an earlier post that a good way to get your kids and family ready for hiking is taking them to a nature trail.  So today I am highlighting 5 of my favorites that are in Davis County, UT and close to where I live.  If you live in Davis County check these out, or search for local nature trails in your community, you may be surprised at what is hiding just around the corner.

#1  Nicholls Hollow Trail/Gailey Nature Trail/Bair Creek Nature Trail (1105 Nicholls Rd, Fruit Heights, UT 84037)

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy ( wide mostly flat trail, short decent down to trail)

Not 100% sure on the actual name of this trail, it seems to go by several names.  It is located in Fruit Heights right next to Nicholls Park or Castle Park.  West of the actual park there is a large picnic pavilion and you will notice that just to the east of the pavilion you can walk down to the hollow and get access to the trail.  We love this one.  There are trees, a little stream, multiple bridges, and shade.  We always go here just to explore, I’ve never done the entire trail so I don’t really know how far it goes in either direction.

12974488_10153978634670661_1610013407734800589_n

13010848_10153978635290661_3251787219209782878_n

13010801_10153978634770661_8243217746122889770_n

12998637_10153978634795661_318864338276947704_n

#2  The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve (41 S 3200 W, Layton, UT 84041)

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (1.3 mile loop boardwalk, flat with optional climb up tower)

You’ll find this next gem out in West Layton.  Follow this neat boardwalk trail loop through the swampy marshes of the Great Salt Lake.  There are information exhibits and a really cool lookout tower.  Bring your stroller and a picnic and have yourself a wonderful time.  There isn’t shade here besides a little on the tower and pavilion so plan accordingly.

11162440_10153160846735661_8680355678230950569_n

11156341_10153160846800661_7189547300773959443_n

11100779_10153160846945661_7547107383675459605_n

1458645_10153160846595661_6384560492535227817_n

#3  Lagoon Trail/Farmington Creek Trail (Map)

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (up to 2.3 miles if including 2nd trail, paved mostly flat)

I grew up right by this trail and it has always been a favorite for me.  The paved trail makes it great for bikes and strollers.  The tall trees, stream, and lush foliage make it an absolutely beautiful nature trail.  There are multiple access points for this trail, we usually start at the north entrance off of 200 W  (see map).  A little ways down the start of the trail you will come to a fork.  Turn left and you will follow a trail up to Farmington Pond, keep going and this actually continues into a hiking trail up the mountains.  If you go right at the first fork you will continue on towards Lagoon.  Once you end the first leg of the trail to Lagoon, walk up the road and you can choose to enter the 2nd trail which takes you all the way past some of the animals at Lagoon Amusement Park.

11029480_10153589531890661_8932556823273889060_n

10253880_10153589532280661_3748156124226118582_n

12141559_10153589532675661_2661008779559238266_n

12115856_10153589532090661_2316627075002635229_n

#4  Kays Creek Parkway (link to map & trail heads)

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (up to 5 miles paved trail some areas of elevation change and hills)

Here is another paved trail that is good for biking and strollers.  This one is located in North Layton and has several access points.  Not as much shade here, but it is about 5 miles of paved trail.  There are a few little exhibits that give info about animals and plants in the area.  Nice place for a summer evening stroll.

kays-creek-parkway-md-2

ab90933bf97b17ada0807c23e283cfdc

KayscreekParkwayCG1

#5  Layton Commons Park Walking Trail (437 N Wasatch Dr, Layton,UT)

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy  (about 1.5 miles flat easy trail)

Here is another little walking trail right next to a park.  I love when there are these little trails off of the actual park because you can play at the park and do some nature exploring all in the same day.  This trail follows a little stream with ducks, geese and other birds.  It is about 1.5 miles and there is a really cool bridge if you follow the trail to the north, this will also connect you to the 2nd park in the area.

These are just a few of the little nature trails we have enjoyed that are close to home.  We hope you get to try them out!

 slcly_phototour21

 

Buffalo Point Trail

12976701_10153973154985661_5668334188055997558_o

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (.8 mile round trip with uphill climb to top, rocks to climb and explore on top)

Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved Antelope Island.  I don’t even have a particularly good reason.  I think it just felt magical to me.  So close to home, yet you feel like you are on some grand adventure.  I’ve loved going back as an adult and taking my kids.  The views are grand, you will most likely spot some wildlife, and there are rocks for climbing, and beaches to explore.

Buffalo Point Trail is a great family friendly hike.  It isn’t very long (.4 miles one way so just under a mile round trip) and the views at the top, along with all the fun rocks to climb and explore, makes it a great place to take your family on an adventure.  We most recently went last July in the evening and it was perfect, this is a great sunset hike in the summer.  This trail doesn’t really have shade so it is best to go in the morning or evening during the summer.  Spring can be a great time to go to Antelope Island as well, but make sure you check their website or call ahead and make sure you aren’t going to be there during biting gnat season, trust me it isn’t fun.  (Biting gnat season is usually April-June) As with any hike it is always important to be prepared.  Bug spray, sunscreen, water and snacks are always important.  When my daughter was younger it was always important we had a carry option as well.  After finally learning to walk at 18 months, she had only a couple of months walking experience by the time we went on this hike.  I carried her up to the point, but she was very anxious to get out and explore and climb, then she went back in my baby carrier on the way down.  Little children with limited walking experience can tire quickly so this is a good thing to remember if you are taking them with you, make sure you have a comfortable option to carry them if needed.

Here are some pictures and highlights.  I can’t wait to share some other great trails Antelope Island has to offer.

Here is the link to the Antelope Island State Park website with maps of trails and other info.

13007168_10153973289320661_3242448954244570922_n

13002574_10153973289485661_102956418497334418_o

13015239_10153973289260661_1143658265295904265_n

13015179_10153973289160661_6068898640728259501_n

13012655_10153973289450661_3187545082979771708_n

12998459_10153973289240661_6704695152837390659_n

12998173_10153973289610661_1259220029810588674_o

12994444_10153973289370661_5367018147508684121_n

12991076_10153973289430661_36073819800394043_n

12974535_10153973289290661_3609038454225338319_n

12967483_10153973289395661_608692689664473077_o

12961726_10153973289185661_8972663361862954362_n

12957604_10153973289665661_98639642586299319_o

Bryce Canyon-Winter Hiking

12745641_10153809172420661_2449319017716398216_n

Navajo Loop:

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1.3 mile loop, 550ft elevation change, some steep climb.  Not always accessible during the winter, snow/ice will require extra equipment/precaution and will bump my rating up to Moderate during those conditions)

Rim Trail (Sunrise to Sunset):

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (1 mile round trip, paved mostly flat.  Not always accessible during the winter, snow/ice will require extra equipment/precaution)

I’m not the biggest fan of winter, I’ll admit it.  My 6-year-old went on a snowshoeing field trip this winter and loved it, which got me thinking that maybe some winter hiking wouldn’t be too bad.  So in February we decided to try some winter hiking and it was a big hit.  I’m actually looking forward to next winter and trying out some more winter hiking and snowshoeing.

Here in Utah, winter can mean terrible air quality.  We can get inversions that last for days and weeks.  Pair that with freezing cold temperatures and you might as well hibernate for the winter!  Luckily once you get out of the valley you can reach some clear air and sunny skies.  During a particular bad week in February we decided to ditch the inversion for the weekend and head south for an adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park and Escalante.

It was sunny, the air was clear, and temperatures during the day were 50’s and 60’s.  It felt amazing!

Hiking on snow can be tricky.  You definitely need snow boots or winter hiking boots.  These need to have good tread and they also need to be warm and waterproof, especially for kids to keep them comfortable.  You can use spike attachments to add to your shoes or use snowshoes and skis depending on where you go as well.  A beautiful sunny day may get you excited for some hiking, but it brings its own risks.  Warmer temps and sunshine can make it harder to navigate snow making it more slick and slippery.  So when you attempt any winter hiking, please be careful!  It is also important to remember hydration and even sunscreen in the winter, sometimes we forget these things since it isn’t summer but they are still important!

Bryce Canyon was absolutely breathtaking in the winter.  I can’t wait to go back, and also go visit in the warmer months too.  Not all the hiking trails are completely open, so you kind of just have to be flexible.  We hiked parts of the Rim trail that was open and also parts of the Navajo trail.  I only did the part of the Navajo trail with my 6-year-old though, I didn’t feel quite comfortable enough to bring my 2-year-old down the icy decent.  I felt like Bryce Canyon was really kid friendly in general, however winter hiking isn’t probably the best for beginners.  My kids did really great overall, but they have quite a bit of experience.  In the late spring and summer when the snow melts there will be more kid friendly hiking options with several easy and moderate trail options.  The viewpoints are breathtaking, I’m glad we made the trip this winter.  I consider Bryce Canyon a must see if you ever come visit Utah, or if you live in Utah and haven’t ever been then you really need to visit!

12728955_10153809173570661_702737263511337967_n

12718288_10153809173110661_2135856972734822997_n

12717653_10153809173270661_144762036918710495_n

12705792_10153809173325661_4142527861771763565_n

12729082_10153809173395661_1461904841992350093_n

12705368_10153809172600661_8348805699538195871_n

12687947_10153809173460661_6973398857479908750_n

12670300_10153809173985661_1413301704919451806_n

12670299_10153809172450661_6737659358302041602_n

12646945_10153809173915661_4893936734548248853_n

Mirror Lake

12984027_10153960160650661_6449369647627870644_o

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate ( about 1.5 mile loop, mostly flat with a couple rocky areas)

If you or your kids don’t have much hiking experience it can be tough to know where to begin.  Before doing any major outdoor excursion I recommend doing some research and finding some local nature trails in  your city.  I’ll post some of my favorites in a later post.  Once you’ve gotten some experience with your city nature trails and know your how your kids handle walking longer distances you can branch out a bit.  Today I’m talking about one of my all time favorite beginner trails in Utah.  This trail is perfect for families, young kids, and people with little hiking experience.  This is one of the first places we take our kids when they are little, and we keep coming back every year.

Mirror Lake is located in the Uinta National Forest and is accessed by the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.  This beautiful drive has many stops along the way and many camping/hiking opportunities.  The drive alone is a wonderful way to spend a lazy summer day.

The trail starts at Mirror lake and is one big loop around the lake.    The trail gives you a real taste of the great outdoors without any extreme hiking.  Some years we just walk part of the trail and play in the lake and other years we hike the whole loop.  This is a great hike for summer or early fall.  Now for the best part, photos!  I’m showing you some photos from Autumn and Summer, it’s beautiful both seasons.

AUTUMN AT MIRROR LAKE

12916856_10153960123210661_6062841195601215936_o

12977249_10153960112385661_5489276451659709066_o

Most of the trail is dirt, but the beginning is this fun wooden trail.

12963637_10153960112410661_1182028755257028416_n

12417577_10153960112320661_4039455785725509794_n

12932993_10153960112650661_4090669095800380573_n

12916853_10153960160555661_8103969091713654066_o

SUMMER AT MIRROR LAKE

12973296_10153960172865661_173157085723359534_o

12968033_10153960171505661_7618066387596044828_o

12984036_10153960171935661_5753102646574890765_o

12419133_10153960172725661_5877191639986038495_o

 

12970761_10153960160155661_3394974460723499347_o

12970879_10153960160365661_7714378897509910655_o

12938279_10153960160675661_8275346813039752106_n

12963442_10153960160230661_248244607115505257_n

12916871_10153960160520661_6114410089294078010_o

12971039_10153960160015661_426176008489376009_o

12983286_10153960172710661_4617335530330203084_o

Valley of Fire State Park: Part 1

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate (1 mile loop, sandy trail and rocky decent)

Last week we ventured to Henderson, Nevada for spring break to visit family, and enjoy some warmer weather.  We have spent many vacations in the Las Vegas area and I always get asked what we do.  When most people think of Las Vegas they think of the Strip and Casinos, not quite what they would consider a family friendly destination.  The Las Vegas area actually hosts some of the most beautiful and interesting outdoor adventures.  Each time we go we find new places to explore.  I can’t wait to share some of our past experiences as well.

Just over an hour outside of Las Vegas you will find Valley of Fire State Park.   Click HERE for more information on the park.  We were excited to venture out to this park for the day and do some exploring.  We looked up the map of trails, decided on a few we wanted to try, and left after breakfast.

We may have been overly ambitious thinking we could take on 3-4 trails that day.  We ended up doing 2 and arriving home around 3:30 pm exhausted.  Here are some tips if you want to venture to Valley of Fire State Park with your family.

TIPS

  1. Hiking in sand is much more difficult than hiking on nice hard flat ground, especially for young children.  Almost all of the trails at this park include sand, and lots of it.  The sand was especially difficult for my 2-year-old and we carried her part of the time.
  2. Many of these trails have little to no shade.  This is probably not the best park to visit in the middle of summer.  Sunscreen, hats and plenty of water is a must.
  3. The age of your kids will matter here.  Young kids will maybe be able to finish one hike.  You will probably have a more enjoyable time just hanging out in the sand, exploring rocks, and having a picnic, rather than doing a full hike.  Older kids will be able to do more hiking, but plan on it being longer and more tiring.

Driving through the park is a beautiful scenic drive on its own.  Even if you didn’t do any hiking and just drove around, had a nice picnic, and did some exploring it would be more than worth it for the beautiful scenery.

The first trail we decided to take on was the White Domes Loop.  A mile loop trail that included unique rock formations, a narrow slot canyon, and lots and lots of sand.

WHITE DOMES LOOP

12936634_10153953988320661_5274016418039002141_n

So much sand!

12938201_10153953988265661_1097919756486348536_n

The trail starts off with a fairly steep rocky decent.

12936612_10153953988105661_7384920299422055145_n

12928296_10153953981310661_9063581503427028440_n

My son was always on the lookout for shade, sometimes you had to be a little creative.

12042722_10153953988030661_6409078958883222165_n

12963511_10153953981260661_6194241610160098834_n

12961644_10153953979795661_5029770859406527340_n

The kids loved playing in the sand.

12963662_10153953980045661_5456397188678315101_n

12920507_10153953980230661_7310301463595977356_n

This is just a short slot canyon, but it was still fun to venture through.

A12974378_10153953979770661_5951238372551099700_n

My 2-year-old has to follow my 6-year-old everywhere, and she’s pretty good at it!

12963413_10153953981115661_397212885123229987_n

The desert is a beautiful place.

12932745_10153953980990661_5789541043783584214_n

We found the perfect spot for a nice break to refuel.

12670669_10153953980725661_8597399535958808804_n

12523848_10153953980835661_1834867667491838757_n

Despite the sand, my kids managed to survive and we finished the whole loop in about 1.5 hours.  Stay tuned for part 2 of this adventure where I go into detail about the 2nd hike we explored.

Red Reef Trail

12112489_10153934530070661_1358535891825950796_n

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1 mile round trip to waterfall steps)

This past week we headed south to find some warmer weather to enjoy our spring break.  One of the stops we made was in St George, Utah.  The St George area has all sorts of neat trails and hikes.  This trip we found the wonderful Red Reef Trail.  This trail is part of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and we accessed it through the campground at the Red Cliffs Recreation Area.  Here is a link with more details and how to get there.

This trail was very kid friendly, especially when you follow my tips below. (my little mountaineers are 2 and 6).

TIPS

  1. Don’t ever feel like you have to finish the whole trail.  Always do what is comfortable for you and your family.  If you get to a hard spot it is okay to turn around.  Spend more time at the places along the trail that interest your family.
  2. If you want your kids to have fun, let them have a little control.  If they want to stay by the stream and throw rocks for a while, or hike some of the fun rock formations, let them do it.  Child led hikes are usually not quick or with a destination in mind, they are usually all about exploring, curiosity and the sensory experience.
  3. Bring plenty of water and snacks.  I bought my kids Camelbak Kid’s Mini M.U.L.E. backpacks for Christmas and it was the best investment ever.  A days supply of water and snacks fits in their backpack and hydration pack and they carry it on their own backs, even my two year old.
  4. Check weather and plan a time of day that works best for your family.  Kids can get grouchy when their comfort is compromised.  Make sure the clothes and shoes they are wearing are weather and hike appropriate.  If you think they’ll get wet it is good to bring spares.

Okay now for all the fun parts.  Follow along my pictures below and check out our favorite parts of this trail.  Check it out for yourself and let us know how you like it!

12920417_10153951328695661_7919333941400757548_n

12924352_10153951328815661_8678788712885474154_n

We did quite of bit of “off trail” exploration.  There were many cool rock formations and other neat things right along the trail, my kids were in climbing heaven.

12920404_10153951328775661_4825286928240681766_n

12963910_10153951328735661_6786719033835006618_n

12472700_10153951328655661_225085075786264568_n

The picture above is a tree that looks like an elephant.  Below is the same tree on the backside with a perfect little area for exploring.

1450711_10153951328585661_81570390105155283_n

12592264_10153951328495661_7880897839194327269_n

12919886_10153951328420661_5755943610298840633_n

We hiked this trail the end of March so there was water in the stream and many waterfalls.

995331_10153951328345661_8216622265179884775_n

11223312_10153951328110661_6286827509869933609_n

12961747_10153951327760661_3726387433490595575_n

995329_10153951327860661_4459142471182589028_n

12670728_10153951327940661_2387955895638731609_n

Pictured above and below was some of the “off trail” exploration we did.  You don’t have to do any of this as part of the trail, but it is right along side if you are feeling brave.

12924490_10153951327705661_3707157276562819087_n

12924352_10153951327640661_7210863996571803524_n

12936764_10153951328030661_4810083219415172666_n

12931113_10153951327530661_8672377396036849766_n

Pictured above was basically the very end of the trail.  You are able to scale the rocks with the rope and on the other side there are a couple more waterfalls and more rock and narrow canyon hiking.  We did cross this area with our kids because we felt comfortable doing so.  Feel free to call it quits here if you aren’t quite ready for this step.

12931259_10153951327475661_1697282821661025685_n

Well that’s about it.  We spent a couple hours (round trip) on this trail in the early afternoon and it was the perfect way to spend our afternoon.  Stay tuned for more adventures from our spring break.   This blog will also feature adventures from other parts of Utah, other states, and even around the world.  Get out and become a mountaineer with your family!