It was bluebird day in Western North Carolina and my body has been screaming for some fresh air and exercise. So when my Friday morning playgroup asked for ideas for an activity, I suggested a hike. I just joined recently, but so far we’ve been meeting up indoors due to weather. It’s always a place that’s great for the kids to burn off energy, but as much as Jed runs around, and as much as I chase him, it’s never a fulfilling, endorphin-inducing activity for me.
Others agreed that a hike sounded good (“perhaps we’ll join you another day…”) while some were on lockdown due to a widespread sweep of the flu, so in the end Jed and I were on our own. No worries. I was on a mission.
In my research for a toddler-friendly hike, I found a super cool program in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation called Kids in Parks. It’s an initiative to increase the physical activity of children and their families, improve nutritional choices and connect kids to the Blue Ridge Parkway. They have Hiking TRACK Trails, designed to get kids outside and enjoying nature. There are nine of them in the area plus one Nature Trail Disc Golf Course.
Jed and I checked out their trail at Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville Visitor Center. It’s a 1.4 mile loop, and they offer brochures you can print out with different “adventures” you can do with your kids along the way, like Nature’s Hide & Seek and Tracking Tree Treasures, some of which are available as brochures at the trailhead. And the Visitors Center itself is SO nice! It’s a beautiful, LEED-certified building, with friendly staff and little exhibits set up in the main foyer. We didn’t make it past the foyer, but they also have a movie theater that shows films about the Parkway… like our own little Epcot!
I’m so glad I brought our Kelty child carrier with us. The way Jed was sprinting the first several yards, I thought I’d be forced to take up trail running, but he quickly asked me to “pick you up.” A 1.4 mile loop with a 30+ lb baby on your back is quite the workout! The trail is fairly well-marked and always has the sounds of the Parkway in earshot, so those who share my “Into the Woods” imagination need not be spooked if you go it alone. Not ideal for my perfect hike (I go for views and more out-of-the-way trails, which usually go hand in hand), but when a child is involved, the hike has to be for him, not you, as I learned from the tips on the Kids in Parks website. We talked about the pine cones and the different shapes and sizes of the trees. But mostly, Jed wanted me to catch up with the doggies who passed us about 20 yards into our trek. Mush, Mommy, mush!
I feel so lucky to have something like Kids in Parks in our backyard. Do you have a kid-friendly hike to share from your area?