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Go the distance on a scenic hike with family

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, FamilyTravel.com
Published: May 25, 2024, 6:04am

Lace up your boots and include a hiking adventure in your next family getaway. Here are five ideas to consider.

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (Anchorage, Alaska)

Spend time on this scenic coastal trail to sample Alaskan views, a city skyline, wildlife (including moose) and fresh air. Paved from start to finish, the 11-mile urban trail can be traversed on foot, by bike or on in-line skates. (Adult and children’s bike rentals are available near the trail.) You’ll travel aside Cook Inlet, named for the famed British mariner who explored the bay in the late 1700s. It’s known for tidal extremes, which expose extensive mudflats during low tide. When tides are higher, be on the lookout for the beluga whales often spotted in the area. On a clear day, North America’s highest peak, Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is visible in the distance.

For more: anchoragecoastaltrail.com or www.alaska.org

Gordons Pond Trail (Lewes, Del.)

A popular hike for families, the 5.2-mile trek connects the beach towns of Lewes and Rehoboth, traversing the salt marshes of Cape Henlopen State Park in coastal Delaware. Hikers, bikers and birders are drawn to Gordons Pond, a 900-acre saltwater lagoon, one of only four places in North America considered a migration super highway for waterfowl. End the day with ice cream or funnel cakes on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk.

For more: delawaregreenways.org/trail/gordons-pond-trail/

The Kekekabic (Ely, Minn.)

The full length of the Kekekabic Trail, or the Kek as it is known to locals, winds almost 40 miles from Snowbank Lake Road, east of Ely, through the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to the famed Gunflint Trail, west of Grand Marais. Take on a family-sized slice of this wild trail to experience rocky outcroppings, pristine lakes, scenic bluffs and eagles soaring overhead. Listen for the rich yodeling of resident loons in the distance.

For more: www.kek.org or www.exploreminnesota.com

Natchez Trace (Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn.)

Explore wetlands, swamps and hardwood forests and steep yourselves in history as you hike a section of this National Scenic Trail. The foot trails, totaling more than 60 miles, are divided into five sections, making it easy for families to choose a comfortable distance. The trail runs roughly parallel to the Natchez Trace Parkway scenic motor road, designated one of America’s National Scenic Byways and one of only 31 All-American Roads. The historic trail dates back to the early 1700s when sections were Indian footpaths and animal trails. In the late 1700s through the early 1820s traders from the Middle Tennessee and Kentucky areas floated their goods down the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Natchez and then walked or rode horses up the Trace to return home. Today, travelers explore the National Park in their personal vehicles, take time to hike, ride horses and camp along the way. You’ll find overnight accommodations in small towns along the historic travel corridor stretching from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn.

For more: www.nps.gov/natt/index.htm

Babcock State Park (Clifftop, W.V.)

Choose from more than 20 miles of hiking trails as you explore this scenic stretch of West Virginia along the New River Gorge. Expect easy and level loop trails as well as more challenging terrain. Located on 4,127 wooded acres, the park is best known for the Glade Creek Grist Mill, a re-creation of the original 1890 Cooper’s Mill that once ground grain in the same location. Today, hikers can journey back in time to the days when grinding grain by a rushing stream was common. The current mill grinds cornmeal that is intermittently available to visitors.

For more: wvstateparks.com/park/babcock-state-park/