What makes a hike family friendly?
In my opinion any hike that doesn’t involve repelling can be a family friendly hike if you plan well enough. However, not every family is as recklessly adventurous as mine. So I’ve compiled a list of hikes that are mellow, memorable, and fun regardless of how far you manage to hike.
These were my favorites when I was a kid, and my favorites to share with my daughter.
There are countless trailheads to access trails on Mount Elden. The trail head for Fat Man’s loop is one of the most well known, but there is also trail access from the parking lot of Trinity Heights Church at the top of 4th street. From there: endless adventuring. These woods are the perfect place for unstructured play and fun family wanderings.
Located off of highway 89, just two miles south of the Flagstaff airport. Look for a marked day use area on the left side of the highway. The hike is only a one mile loop, perfect for hikers with little legs. After heavy rains, a small stream flows near the trail, attracting birds and wildlife.
One of the most popular hikes in the region. 17.5 miles south of Flagstaff on highway 89 is the West Fork of Oak Creek. Highly accessible, no 4 wheel drive necessary. There is a $10 parking fee per vehicle and the parking lot fills up fast. I recommend getting there early and having a back-up plan in case the lot is already full. The beauty of this hike is that no matter how far you manage to walk (be it a toddler distance of 50 feet, or 8 miles of backpacking with older children) its worth it. Be prepared to get wet, a lot of the hiking happens in the creek. This is an ideal adventure for spring and summer. The autumn leaves are spectacular but it does get pretty cold so bundle up the little ones.
The best local hike for fall colors, but gorgeous all year. Located 15 miles north of Flagstaff off Highway 89. Turn left on forest road 552 then follow the signs to Locket Meadow. Because the road is rough and narrow a high clearance vehicle is required.
This is a long drive and a short hike, but completely worthwhile. To see the Little Colorado river gushing over this incredible cascade visit in Spring when the snow is melting or in Summer after a few good monsoon storms. It does not flow year round. To get there, take I40 15 miles east of Flagstaff and take exit 211 for Winona. Turn right on Leupp