NATURE IS COOL: HIKES WITH KIDS
One of the best things about living in Ogden is the easy access to outdoor activities. Whether you’re a hard-core hiker or biker or a weekend picnicker (my family falls somewhere in the middle), there’s a place that will be ideal for you and your family, and probably within twenty minutes from your house.
This became most important when we had kids. Suddenly, a long drive to a hard climb became a luxury. If we wanted to get out with the family, something close to home and doable for kids became the rule of the day.
To that end, here’s a short list of easy day hikes. Be forewarned: these days my most common hiking partners are a seven year old and a German Shepherd with arthritic hips. These aren’t difficult, but I’ve arranged them from easiest to most challenging. There are guides for the Ogden Nature Center and the Dinosaur Park in our archives—look them up, too!
Before you start, please make sure safety is your #1 priority. Some general hiking rules:
* Pack plenty of water (kids like a snack, too)
* Sunscreen and bug spray (natural is best, for the sake of butterflies) too, and maybe a small first aid kit.
* Wear good shoes (flip flops are rarely a good idea) and pack a jacket
* Remember that Utah is a high desert. Rattlesnakes are often a possibility in summer. Stay on the trails, keep your eyes open, and if you hear something like a cicada, move along. This is not to scare you, but do be aware.
*ALWAYS let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
*BE CONSIDRERATE. Don’t leave trash, dog poop (or your own) along the way. Remember most trails are multi-use—hiking, biking, running, and sometimes horses. A general rule of thumb is that the person (or party) going uphill should give way to those coming downhill, so step off the trail (CAREFULLY) if need be.
Got your stuff together? Then let’s go!
Ogden River Parkway: This is definitely the easiest ‘hike’, but it’s a good way to gauge your child’s interest level and endurance. If you start at the beginning, off of 12th street, there is a nice playground at the MTC Learning Park– a reward for your kids! Bathrooms and water are available at the park, too. If you continue on to the end, the walk goes to Lorin Farr park and beyond. This walk is stroller and dog compatible (just PLEASE bring along a bag to clean up if your dog poops). Along the way, take time to CAREFULLY go down to the Ogden River. Right now, the river is running shallow—this is both bad for our water situation this summer, and good for kids to play in the water, see fish and frogs, and skip stones. It’s cool and quiet, and a treat for parents, too.
Rainbow Trail Loop and Birdsong Trail: These are fantastic trails for little ones! The trailhead is located in the back corner of Rainbow Gardens’ parking lot. The hike starts out cool and shady, and definitely full of birdsong (if you go in the morning). Just a few yards up the trail, you come to a signpost: If you go left, you hit the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (another fantastic hike); if you go straight ahead, you’re on the Rainbow Trail loop/Birdsong Trail track. After you leave the trees for the first time, you will soon come to another crossroads: you can choose to go right, which takes you on the high desert Rainbow Trail Loop. This switches back and forth through a mass of sagebrush and cactus (CAREFUL!), and has great views of Ogden. It will eventually take you back to the main trail, or you could choose to keep going up (and slightly to the left) from the outset, and continue up the Birdsong Trail. This path goes in and out of the trees (more shady than not), and eventually ends up in a cul-de-sac off of 20th st. Even at 7 year old and Old Dog speed, this trail takes us about 40 mins, bottom to top. It offers fantastic views, beautiful scenery (“It looks like a fairy forest,” was my son’s comment), and plenty of opportunity to see wild flowers and butterflies/dragonflies. This one is not stroller compatible, but you can take your canine friend (the ‘Poop Plea’ is in force here, too, though. PLEASE clean it up).
Coming up: HIKING WITH KIDS—CHALLENGING (BUT STILL DOABLE!)
Autumn is an author, editor and reviewer (you could say she likes books). A long time resident of the Ogden area, she’s addicted to movies, music, coffee, wine (not necessarily in that order). Loves cooking and spending time with sweetie, four rug rats, and one horsedog. Unrepentant geek.