This morning when I woke up, I could see the beautiful fall leaves covering the mountainside outside my window.
An hour later, lunches were packed, boys were buckled in, and we were mountainbound! I love living so close to so many hikes.
I've made it a goal to take the boys on at least one hike a week during the warm months of the year, but this week we actually made it on three hikes! I want to spend as much time in the mountains as I can before the snows strike and the canyons are unhikable (without snow shoes, that is!)
We went on Willow Heights Trail this morning and it was perfect. The hike itself was short, but surprisingly strenuous, but there was no whining or complaining- except from the baby, who didn't want to be carried, but to scramble up rocks by himself. I'm so proud of what good hikers the boys have become. I remember that I read a blog post about hiking with kids a year or so ago, and it totally changed how I tackle hikes with the kids. She said to let your kids take as many breaks as they want, stop and play, carry (light!) backpacks, and have a bunch of different snacks to stop and eat, even on a short hike.
For some reason, none of those things had ever occurred to me. Now we always have at least three different snacks on each hike, and I almost always bring a sandwich for everyone. It's such a treat for the boys to get to the summit and triumphantly have a picnic. And whenever they get whiney or tired on the way, I say "Find a good spot to take a break and we can all stop and eat a fruit leather."
And everyone cheers up.
I wanted to share a few pictures from our hike today and also share links/directions to a few of the hikes we've really enjoyed this summer.
Some favorite hikes:
All of these are up Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is easily our favorite canyon to hike in. And When I rank these, I am not ranking them for normal, fit adults carrying Camelbak backpacks. I am ranking them for mothers, holding hands with their toddlers and hauling a baby on their backs. All of these are hikes are hikes my four and a half-year olds can walk themselves, but that doesn't necessarily make them easy.
Willow Heights Trail- This hike was gorgeous and quiet. There weren't very many people on the trail, so we often felt like we were alone on the mountainside. This hike is split into thirds: 1. scrambling up a steep, rocky "stair," 2. slight easy incline through aspens, and 3. a flat walk over the prairie on top. Don't give up when the hard part is first, it is totally worth it and it doesn't last forever! But little kids (like August) will need to be carried for one to two-thirds of the hike. *Moderate*
Twin Lakes- Easily the most beautiful hike I've ever been on, we went in late July when the mountain sides were covered in two dozen different kinds of wildflowers. This hike is difficult, but really satisfying. And my kids LOVE scrambling up rocks more than they love just walking, anyway. Bring a picnic and stay awhile. *Difficult, but doable.*
Lisa Falls- Short! This "hike" is not really a hike, it's more like a strenuous walk to a really cool natural playground. Just a quarter of a mile up from the road to the foot of a very small waterfall, with lots of places to wade, climb, throw rocks and spend all day. This is my kids' favorite hike and we go here a couple times a month during the summer just to have playgroup! *Easy*
Donut Falls- Probably the most popular hike for families in Big Cottonwood, this is an easy hike to a really cool waterfall. And if you go later in the summer, you can climb up the waterfall itself as the flow is little more than a trickle. My kids love "forging the river" on fallen logs, and climbing up to see the waterfall close-up as it falls through a hole in the roof of a cave. Wear water shoes, but picnics are hard since there's nowhere awesome to sit when you're actually at the waterfall. My baby can do a lot of this hike, except the last third or so, once you're down forging rivers and climbing waterfalls. Don't go on weekends, parking is insane and the rangers are pretty ticket-happy in this area. *Easy*