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21 of the Best Family-Friendly Hikes in the U.S.

Are you looking to get your kids outside and discover the best family-friendly hiking trails in the United States? From sandy shores to towering peaks, these family-friendly hikes are filled with some of the country’s most breathtaking landscapes. Uncover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories together.

Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to uncover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories together. These locations will leave you feeling connected to nature and recharge your soul.

In this blog post, I’ll provide exclusive insights and advice on family-friendly hikes across the nation. No matter your location, kid-friendly trails are always waiting to be explored. Don’t forget to check back over time, as I’ll be adding additional hikes as we come across them.

Family-Friendly Hikes

Before I became a mom, I spent the majority of my time outdoors in nature. After becoming a mom, I knew I wanted to instill in my kids a love for nature and hiking.

One way my husband and I have done this has been by exploring as many State Parks and hiking trails as possible.

However, I knew that the trails I did before kids may not be the same trails I’m able to do with little kids. Seven years later, and four kids later, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and exploring trails.

Our little hikers may not be quite ready for those hikes with miles of difficult trails, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered is trying to locate kid-friendly hikes. Although there is a lot of information out there on hiking trails in general, it fails to mention whether they’re kid-friendly, other than a beginner, intermediate, and difficult ranking, which led me to this blog post.

I teamed up with a group of travel bloggers to bring you some of our favorite family-friendly hiking trails across the United States. Each of these locations has been hiked by families just like yours, and we’re giving you our advice for each location.

I hope these locations inspire you to get your family out and explore a new hiking trail near you!

Hiking Trails

These family-friendly hiking trails span from picturesque beaches to majestic mountains across the United States. Embark on a journey filled with natural wonders, scenic vistas, and unforgettable adventures suitable for hikers of all ages. Whether you seek the tranquility of coastal paths or the exhilaration of alpine trails, these handpicked routes promise an enriching experience for the whole family to cherish. Join us as we delve into the beauty of nature, fostering bonds and creating lasting memories along the way.

In this blog post, the hiking trails are divided by U.S. Regions, which were based on a map by National Geographic. This should allow you to find the area you’re ready to explore quickly.

Best family-friendly hikes in the US


Beech Mountain Trail: Acadia National Park, Maine

The Beech Mountain Trail up Beech Mountain in Acadia National Park is a great first hike for young children. At only 1.2 miles round trip with relatively solid footing underneath, this trail is doable by kids as young as 3 or 4, who will be thrilled at summiting their first mountain.

The views from this hike are really lovely, especially for the relatively little effort expended. 

Beech Mountain is unique among Acadia mountains because it has a working fire tower on the summit. If you’re not too tired from climbing the mountain, you can climb to the first platform fire tower for an even more panoramic view of nearby scenery, including Echo Lake. 

Recommended by Adrienne from Destinations & Desserts.

Gorge and Rim Trails: Treman State Park, New York

For little hikers who love nature, one of the best trails in New York’s Finger Lakes is the Treman State Park’s Gorge and Rim Trails. The well-maintained trails wind along the Enfield Glen and feature 12 stunning waterfalls, including the impressive 115-foot Lucifer Falls. Each trail is approximately 2 miles one-way; you can also do them as a 4-mile loop. For families who would like to use this as an educational opportunity, you’re in luck. The trails feature interpretive signs educating both the young and old about the park’s flora and fauna.

After the hike, there’s no better way to wrap up your visit than to grab your swimsuits and hop into the stream-fed pool that is beneath one of the park’s beautiful waterfalls — there is even a diving board!

Recommended by Rebecca at Veggies Abroad

Seal Haul Out: Montauk Point State Park, Long Island, New York

The Seal Haul Out Trail is a beautiful 1.6-mile out-and-back hiking trail in Montauk Point State Park, New York that starts in the woods and takes you down to the beach. The trail is especially popular from January through April as seals migrate and are frequently spotted on the shoreline and on rocks just slightly off shore.

Harbor seals are the most common seals to spot on the trail, but sometimes there are also Harp seals, Ringed Seals, Hooded Seals, and Gray Seals. The kids will love watching the seals out in the wild, but please keep your distance and do not touch them. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the seals, the best time to view them is during low tide.

Parking in the off-season is free, but during peak, they do charge a vehicle of $8.

Recommended by yours truly, Tandra.


Clingman’s Dome Trail: Great Smoky Mountains

The Clingman’s Dome Trail is not only one of the best family-friendly hikes in the U.S. because of its short length and paved path, but it also offers some of the best and most unique views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Sitting at 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in Tennessee. While the trail is steep in some places, it is paved, and with plenty of breaks, the trail is easily do-able for almost every member of the family. Round trip, the trail is 1.3 miles and takes about an hour to climb. The kids (and adults, too!) will love looking at the colorful wildflowers lining the trail. 

The trail is accessible from the Clingman’s Dome parking area, and the ascent almost immediately starts. During your hike up the trail, be sure to stop and look behind you; you won’t want to miss the views! When you reach the top, you will be able to walk up the observation tower, which gives you 360-degree views of the Smokies and surrounding states. Be sure to check the weather, on cloudy days the view is very limited. To make your experience even more unique, stick around after dark for some of the best stargazing views in the area, an unforgettable experience with the family!

Recommended by Melissa at TheNavigatingMom.com

Hemlock Trail: Bruceton Mills, West Virginia

Hemlock Trail is a true hidden gem in Chestnut Ridge Park. It’s a beautiful 1.7-mile loop along the water, full of beautiful rhododendrons, large hemlocks, big rocks to climb, and various water views.

If you go after a rainy day, you may even be surprised to find enchanting waterfalls along the hike, but be prepared for a muddy path.

This trail is easy to miss as it is right off the main road with no official parking, just off-road parking. The trail itself is great for kids; it’s well-marked and an easy path; however, while parking, keep an eye on the little ones since it is right off Route 73 at the end of a pull-off. Once you’re onto the trail, you’ll have a beautiful hike with so much to see.

Recommended by yours truly, Tandra.

Lake Placid Trail: Paris Mountain State Park, South Carolina

If you find yourself in Greenville, South Carolina, you have to visit Paris Mountain State Park and step foot onto the Lake Placid Trail. This trail is perfect for those little hikers looking to explore, as it loops right along the shores of Lake Placid.

The Lake Placid Trail is right under a mile at 0.75 miles and takes roughly 30 minutes. Along your walk, your little nature lovers can look for squirrels, birds, turtles, and snakes.

This trail begins at the picnic shelter and circles through the lake before you return back to the picnic shelter. You can find the map of trails here.

Paris Mountain is $6 for adults and $3.50 for children (6-15), and it is free for little hikers under age 5. Remember to bring your swimsuits because your entry fee includes access to the swimming area.

Pets are allowed in most outdoor areas if you’d like to bring your furry four-legged friend, but they must be kept in a restraint no longer than six feet long.

Recommended by yours truly, Tandra.

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

One of the best places to go hiking as a family is in the Pisgah National Forest, just a 45-minute drive from Asheville, North Carolina. The highlight of the Pisgah National Forest is its many waterfalls – there are over 300 falls that give the forest its nickname, “The Land of Waterfalls.”  Families can view Looking Glass Falls right from the main driving road (great for tired kiddos who can’t manage another trail) or head down to Sliding Rock Falls. These falls are 60 feet, and the rock face is smooth. You can use it as a natural water slide! In the summer, it turns into a public slide with lifeguards and a $5 entrance fee – a great thing to do as a family!  Once you’re done exploring the falls, there are hundreds of beautiful trails with picnic benches to wander around for the day.

Recommended by Taylor of Culture Craving Couple


Hocking Hills, Ohio

Image: DiscoveringAnew

Waterfall hikes are plentiful in Hocking Hills, Ohio. This scenic spot in the Midwest is filled with stunning rock formations, caves, moss-covered boulders, waterfalls, and stone staircases. It’s an ideal location for a family vacation since the hikes are relatively short, and you can fit multiple ones in a day. Some of our favorite kid-friendly hikes include Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, and Conkle’s Hollow.

When visiting this area, there is limited cell reception, so make sure to stop at the visitor’s center to pick up maps or download the Hocking Hill App on your phone. You can easily spend a week exploring this lovely area. Besides beautiful hiking trails, there are opportunities to zipline, kayak, visit the children’s museum, and even hand-feed hummingbirds at the nearby state park. Here is your complete family-friendly guide on the Best Things to Do in Hocking Hills that will give you tons of ideas for outdoor adventures, indoor activities, restaurants, and nearby accommodations when visiting Hocking Hills, Ohio.

Recommended by Marian of DiscoveringAnew.com

Scour Trail: Missouri Ozarks

The Scour Trail, located at Johnson’s Shut-Ins within the Francois Mountains of the Missouri Ozarks, is an ideal family-friendly hike. This 2-mile loop trail has minimal elevation and is an easy to moderate path with rugged yet manageable terrain and picturesque scenery. The loop design means families can choose their direction, exploring the forest, water areas, and inland paths.  

Without stopping, the hike takes about 1.5 hours, but there are so many areas fun for kids, such as swimming holes and boulders to climb, that it could easily be a fun half-day adventure, especially if you pack a picnic lunch!

A fun fact is that the Scour trail connects to the Ozark Trail, leading to Bell Mountain, integrating it into the larger 230-mile trail system stretching to Arkansas.

Recommended by Alexa of TravelinMissour.Com.


Dune Life Nature Trail: White Sands National Park, New Mexico

The Dune Life Nature Trail at the White Sands National Park in New Mexico is my favorite family-friendly hike in the US. The White Sands National Park is made up of a stunning landscape of white gypsum sand, perfect for hiking, sledding, and exploring.

There are multiple White Sands hiking trails, but Dune Life is the best with family. There are super cute signs along the way featuring Katie the Kit Fox. She’ll teach the children everything about the park, the animals and the plants. 

The trail is about a mile long, so it will take you about an hour to complete it. I suggest bringing good shoes, as the sand can sometimes be a bit hard to walk on. Also, make sure to bring sunglasses so the sand doesn’t get into your eyes. 

Lastly, borrow some sleds at the Visitor’s Center. Children love sledding down the white sand dunes. 

Recommended by Sabrina of New-Mexico-Insider.com


Annie’s Canyon Trail: Solana Beach, California

One of the best family hikes in the US is  Annie’s Canyon Trail in Solana Beach, California. It is an exciting but fairly short walk, so it is a good choice for the entire family. Even better, this fun adventure is easy to get to either by car or with public transportation.

Highlights of this hike are the exciting climb through the narrow canyon and the view from the top of the hill over the San Elijo Lagoon out to the Pacific. The entire experience should take about one to two hours.

There are two paths to the top of the hill, so everyone in the family can participate. Smaller children and anyone who dislikes tight spaces can use the switchback path, but the main attraction of Annie’s Slot Canyon Trail is the more difficult path through the slot canyon itself. Though the slot canyon section is not very long, it is exciting and fun (there is even a ladder to climb!) and appeals especially to older kids and teenagers.

Recommended by Kitty of KittyMeetsWorld.Com

Bell Rock: Sedona

Image by: CS Ginger Travel

Sedona is home to some of the most stunning landscapes and amazing hikes in the Southwest United States. Of all the trails in this beautiful town, Bell Rock stands out as one of the very best hikes for families. 

The Bell Rock Climb is only 1 mile, but with an elevation gain of 625 feet, it’s a moderately challenging climb. That said, families of children with some hiking experience who love to climb and scramble will have a great time on this hike.  

There isn’t a well-defined trail along the way, so kids will have fun exploring and problem-solving as they find just the right path up the rockside. The lack of a trail also makes it easy to end the hike whenever you would like, without pressure to make it all the way to the top. 

Best of all, once you’ve climbed to your desired level of the rock and taken in the view, the kids can carefully slide down some of the steeper sections on their bottoms. 

Bell Rock is definitely one of the best family-friendly hikes in Sedona! 

Recommended by Candice at CS Ginger.

Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Springs may be one of the most iconic hikes in the country and a must for any Yellowstone National Park itinerary. The combination of unbelievably vivid colors and unique geological wonder is a favorite among adults and a hit with kids.

The trail to Grand Prismatic Springs is a relatively easy 1.2-mile round-trip journey with just a moderate elevation change of 105 feet. The well-maintained path and boardwalk system make it accessible for young hikers and parents carrying toddlers.

Hold your breath for the view. The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. It’s famous for its flamboyant colors, which range from deep blue in the center to vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and green along the edges. These stunning colors come from different species of heat-loving bacteria that live in the mineral-rich waters.

From a separate overlook, you can hike to a panoramic view of the spring and its striking color palette, as well as the expansive landscape of Yellowstone National Park. 

Recommended by Catherine of DayTripNomad.Com

Navajo Loop, Queen’s Garden Trail: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The Navajo Loop to Queen’s Garden Trail is an incredible hike to do in Bryce Canyon National Park with kids. It’s relatively short (about 3 miles total) and has moderate elevation gains through an otherworldly landscape of towering orange hoodoos. You start the hike at the top of the rim of the Bryce Amphitheater and then hike down into and among the hoodoos, winding your way through tight switchbacking trails. 

Hoodoos are tall, skinny, and fairly knobby rock formations, and in Bryce Canyon, they are a bright orange color. The entire hike feels like a fun adventure, and kids will stay constantly engaged with the intricate rock formations and enjoy finding cool shapes in the hoodoos.

Recommended by Stephanie of USAdventurer

The Grottos: Aspen, Colorado

Image: Letsjetkid

While Aspen, Colorado, is full of beautiful hikesthe most exciting and unique one is at The Grottos.  This perfect, family-friendly hike is just over a half-mile of easy hiking, making it perfect even for younger kids.  While that sounds short, you’ll be able to spend some time enjoying the area along the way.

This hiking area has a few features that especially make it exciting for kids.  

First, the trail includes access to the Ice Caves.  This feature is just stunning, as you can see the intricately swirled carvings of the ground below.  Kids especially love getting a little help climbing down into the caves to explore a little.

The Ice Caves are incredible and feel overly rewarding for such a minimal effort to get to.

The second great feature of The Grottos trail is the cascades that fall beautifully toward the end of the hike.  It’s easy to sit among the smooth rock on the sides and just enjoy the water as it gently rushes down.

The coolest thing about the cascades is the color.  Since the water runs from glaciers high up the mountain, you’ll get the benefit of a gorgeous turquoise hue that splashes alongside.  Kids love climbing up and down the rock area along the falls.  It’s the perfect place to end this beautiful, family-friendly hike.

Recommended by Megan of Let’s Jet, Kids.

Kanarra Falls: Kanarraville, Utah

Kanarra Falls, also called Kanaraville Falls, is a family-friendly version of hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park. Kanarra Falls is a hike that wanders in and out of the river and ends in a slot canyon with a few beautiful waterfalls. It is located an hour north of St. George in southern Utah.

Unlike the Narrows, the water in the river only gets to mid-calf, and the current is not very strong. There is a natural rock waterslide, just the perfect size for kids. You can also go behind the waterfall, climb a ladder on the right side, and explore two more waterfalls.

We usually work hard trying to keep our kids out of the water while we are hiking, so they loved that with this trail, we got to hike right up the middle of the river surrounded by towering cliffs.

Recommended by Elizabeth of Tall Adventure Fam

Lower Yosemite Falls Trail: Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a national treasure filled with natural beauty and awe-inspiring views. Within the 750,000 acres of varied terrain are natural wonders, like gorgeous waterfalls, towering redwoods, and pristine lakes. One of the most popular family-friendly hikes in Yosemite National Park is the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail. The 1.6-mile flat paved path provides stunning views of the tallest waterfall in North America. The whole family can see the stunning views of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls with minimal effort. 

The best time to experience the falls is in spring and early summer when the melting snow sends massive amounts of water careening down the falls. Visitors should expect to feel the spray at the footbridge during this peak viewing period. 

Street parking, bathrooms, and drinking water are near the Lower Yosemite Falls Trailhead.

Recommended by Michelle of TheTravNav.com.

Monarch Lake Loop Trail: Colorado

Monarch Lake, located between Granby and Grand Lake, Colorado, is ideal for a family-friendly Colorado mountain lake hike. The Monarch Lake Loop Trail invites visitors of all ages to embark on a 4-mile trek around this alpine gem. With only slight elevation changes, the path is accessible for all levels of hikers, including young adventurers. As the trail hugs the lake’s edge for much of this hike, it offers uninterrupted views and numerous spots for exploring the rocks and sandy beaches.

One of the things that makes Monarch Lake unique is its rich wildlife. Families often spot moose, beavers, and a variety of birds, which turns the hike into one focused on wildlife spotting. Fishing is also a popular activity, with the lake’s clear waters being home to trout. This can be done from the shore or from a kayak on the lake. Picnic spots are scattered along the shore near the entrance, providing idyllic settings for a family meal surrounded by the beautiful scenery. This blend of easy hiking, wildlife observation, and the chance to relax by the water’s edge makes Monarch Lake a standout destination for creating cherished family memories.

Recommended by Sonia of CareyonTravels.

Oenkopi Loop: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada is a gorgeous park in the Mojave Desert, just 17 miles from Las Vegas. While the hiking trails at Red Rock can vary in difficulty, a perfect family-friendly hike would be the Moenkopi Loop. 

The trailhead begins and ends conveniently at the visitor center parking lot. The hike is 2.1 miles in length and takes 1.5 hours to complete on average. With very clear signs and easy, flat terrain, this looped trail is perfect for kids to learn about the geological and environmental history of the Mojave Desert. 

The park website even provides a Red Rock Canyon children’s workbook for tracking the types of rocks, animals, and plants seen on the hike. This would make for a great lunchtime activity after exploring the trail!

While the terrain is easy, the trail has little shade. It’s important to pack lots of water and sunscreen. The best time to visit Red Rock Canyon is October through March, when temperatures are cooler. 

Moenkopi Loop at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, is an easy hike for children to learn about the Mojave Desert. It’s the perfect vacation activity for families looking for unique things to do in Vegas!

Recommended by Rachel Mahar from feelinfancy.com

Riverside Walk: Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, located in southwestern Utah, attracts millions of visitors each year who come to marvel at its stunning red rock cliffs and deep canyons. The park offers a wide range of hiking trails suitable for all ages and skill levels.

The Riverside Walk is one of Zion National Park’s most accessible and family-friendly trails. It is a well-maintained, relatively flat, and paved 2-mile round-trip trail. This gentle, picturesque path provides a sense of the grandeur of the canyons without requiring a high level of physical activity.

The trailhead is located at the Temple of Sinawava, the last stop on the Zion Canyon Shuttle route. It follows the Virgin River toward the beginning of The Narrows, the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. During summer, the abundant shade along the Riverside Walk offers a refreshing escape from the park’s intense heat.

Besides the Riverside Walk, the Pa’rus Trail is another family-friendly paved trail with beautiful views of the park and the Virgin River. This trail is quite unique in Zion National Park because it is one of the few trails that allow pets (on a leash) and bicycles.

Recommended by Sophie of Delightfultravelnotes.com

Staircase Rapids Loop: Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park’s Staircase Rapids Loop is perfect for families of all ages – from babies in backpacks to energetic elementary-age kids.  

The loop, about 2 miles long, can also be an out-and-back if you find you’re lingering too long.

And you may well find that you do – checking out the gigantic fallen cedar tree, walking across the suspension bridge, stopping for snacks with views of the clear Skokomish River, and investigating ferns, trees, and moss.

Much of the trail is flat, and the couple of sections that have inclines and declines are brief.  There is one place where you walk across a log bridge, and it feels like a big adventure!  If your kids aren’t comfortable, you can carry them across, one at a time.  

There are toilets at the hike’s entrance, and if you want to explore more of the park, you can even camp at the campground—just be sure to reserve ahead!  

Recommended by Candice of GoSeeLearn.

Keep in Touch!

Follow along for more inspiration on family travel experiences that feed your heart’s wanderlust and create cherished family memories. It’s one of our favorite things to do as a family!

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