Many of my family’s best times together have been on a trail. We’ve walked through the seasons with children in packs on backs, watched little legs eager to forge ahead, stopped for seconds and hours while they explored every nook and cranny. Through creeks and meadows with one who likes to lag behind and one intent on clearing trails, we continue to move slowly: stop for snacks, climb trees, watch snakes and snapping turtles, collect crinoids and look for bones and feathers, treasures, to take back to our home.
While hiking with children is not necessarily a cardio workout, I’d argue no matter how far or fast a trail is forged, the heart is gifted, and the body nourished.
My family is always on the lookout for new places to hike, but we head out to our favorite spots year round. There is something new to see and celebrate in every passing season.
Here are some of our favorite places to be found wandering in South Cental, Indiana.
A beautiful, easy, flat hike where boardwalks wind through the wetlands of Beanblossom, and you’ll see each season at its best! Critters are plentiful, eagle nests easily spotted, and there are many places to rest and explore along the way.
A beautiful place to linger and picnic. Follow the yellow flags and circle the property along with the hillside past Tibetan structures, sand paintings, koi pond, and prayer wheels. This hike has a lot to see. Know that some hills are a little steep, but are well worth the climb.
trails around the lake wind, dip, and climb. Find creek beds filled with crinoids, beautiful views, and “hike” into the lake with kayak or canoe.
Walk among art! A couple of dozen sculptures intertwine along this easy, one-mile hike. This is an excellent place to spend a day exploring nature and human art!
A mixture of short and long trails are found here. Beautiful Indiana hills and forests surround Yellow Wood Lake.
This, little over a mile hike, will lead you up and down hills, by springs, wetlands, caves, and back again. A great place to get dirty, discover Indiana ecology, and get a little exercise.
One of our favorite and most frequented places, the less than two-mile trails are the perfect size for little legs, and all of the trails have plenty of places to splash and look for water critters. While the hills are present, their mostly gentle slopes and beautiful views, make these hikes well worth any piggyback rides that are needed.
This quiet loop is a beautiful place to bird watch, find wildflowers (not seen in this picture obviously) and play. Creeks, a playground, giant windmill, and interpretive stations are all found on a paved trail.
Waterfalls, trails, a covered bridge, places to swim and picnic- Cataract Falls State Park offers many ways to play. Some trails cleared more than others, the paths along the water offer many twists and turns. Note, the rapids can be fierce in places.
Hiking with children invites us to disconnect and reconnect together. No matter what we find on the trail, time spent outdoors with our children gives their sense of wonder plenty of ways to explore.
Check out- Our Gear List for Hiking with Children