I talk a lot about hiking on CampingBlogger, because it is something that we enjoy on our family camping trips and it is a great way to keep the kids busy, for an afternoon. If you are new to camping, though, you might be wondering if hiking is something that your kids – or even you, will actually enjoy.
Over the Fourth of July holiday, one of the places we camped at was Lassen National Park. On our last afternoon in the park, we drove back down to Manzanita Lake at the western entrance, to hike around the lake. As family hikes go, this one is perfect. It is 1.6 miles around the lake, which is a great distance for our two younger ones, who are 5 and 9. It is also nice and flat, since the trail follows the edge of the lake.
During our first two days in Lassen, the only wildlife we had seen were the numerous pikas throughout the area. I had high hopes that we would have better luck around the lake, and I wasn’t disappointed! We had barely hiked 200 feet, before we came across baby Canada Geese perched on a log, just off shore. Is there anything cuter than baby geese? If you are trying to stretch a short hike with kids, being able to spend some time watching wildlife is a great way to do it.
Wildlife isn’t the only attraction, around Manzanita Lake. The girls had a lot of fun walking out onto a fallen tree. We try to take advantage of these “fun breaks” whenever we can, and there are always a lot of things to do around water. Breaking up a hike like this can make it an easier experience for the kids, who might enjoy skipping rocks, or poking mud with a stick, more than just hiking.
One of the keys to hiking with kids is patience. Patience to let them walk on a log, watch baby geese, throw rocks – some of the “kid things” that they don’t get to do, back home. This can be frustrating if you are trying to get somewhere, but when you are just entertaining the kids for an afternoon hike, it is much easier to move at their speed.
Half way around the lake, the weather began rolling in over the mountains and we were soon hiking in the rain, and even some hail. Early July in the mountains is always an adventure – we had also had some weather come up on us a week earlier, in the Oregon Cascades. That was a much longer hike, though, and one without the kids – so I was curious to see how they would react. Watching them laugh and jump around in the rain quickly reminded me of how much I liked that, when I was a kid! Maybe our generations aren’t so different, after all. I’m not a kid anymore, though, so out came the GORE-TEX® Paclite® shell that I keep with me, exactly for these situations.
Other than the kids having a great time getting wet, another benefit of the rain was that it got some of the local wildlife up and moving, in the afternoon. When we are camping in the coastal mountains of California, if the kids want to see deer we have to schedule our hikes fairly early in the morning. Needless to say, the kids don’t get to see a lot of deer! The rain lasted about 20 minutes and we soon spotted a doe, just off the trail.
It was the perfect end to a perfect hike, with the family. The two youngest ones headed off to the store with mom for some firewood and I went with our oldest daughter back down the beginning of the trail to find the jacket that she had left hanging on a log. They grow up so fast – 10 years old and already acting like a teenager!