My love of hiking emerged organically, as my parents were avid hikers and often took me and my brother for hikes on weekends and vacations. As we grew older, the types of trails we tried became more adventurous, more beautiful, and more fun! I knew hiking was an activity I wanted to encourage my children to try as well because of the vast confidence, peace, and appreciation of nature it gave me growing up.
Now, we hike often as a family. Family hikes are a fabulous way to communicate with our kids about important things in an emotionally safe way. But most importantly, hiking has been a way for us to bond and have fun and be physically active together in the midst of the daily distractions and chaos and carpools.
Below you’ll find some of our favorite family-friendly hiking spots in and around the Boston area. What are your favorite family hikes?
What makes it special? Cutler Park is an even-terrained 1.5-mile loop with options to do more extensive hikes. It has enough pit-stops during the loop to keep the little ones engaged, challenged, and happy, like the little alcove near Kendrick Pond where you can have a little picnic and skip rocks. Or the bevy of benches overlooking the water at various points along the route.
My kids especially love: Skipping rocks in Kendrick Pond.
What makes it special? There is so much to do at the Blue Hills besides hiking. With a mini zoo, marine life, science center, museum, swimming, mountains, and a ton more, this could easily be a half-day or full-day activity for the family.
My kids especially love: The Skyline Trail, with its sprawling views of the Boston skyline and an observatory tower at the summit.
What makes it special? I lived in Needham for eight years before I knew this gem existed! But it’s easy to access and has a super fun geocaching route, which is so great to do with the kids. It’s like a forest scavenger hunt!
My kids especially love: Discovering the hidden working railroad.
What makes it special? In addition to beautiful meandering hiking trails, Elm Bank Reservation also boasts beautifully kept gardens and incredible landscaping.
My kids especially love: The nearby horticultural center.
What makes it special? In addition to the numerous hiking trails for all levels and abilities, Hale Reservation also has a summer camp, fishing, and biking opportunities and outdoor water sports and even horseback riding.
My kids especially love: The family trail.
Where is it? Natick
What makes it special? Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary boasts more than 150 species of birds, plus beaver dams, nesting wood ducks, and basking turtles. There are nine miles of easy-to-moderate well-groomed trails that lead you through woodlands, into open fields, and along the edges of streams, ponds, and marshland.
My kids especially love: Ponding at the marsh after a family hike! They find tons of sea critters, including mini lobsters.