According to a recent article published by Travel + Leisure, two hikes in Colorado are among the best for kids in the country.
On a short list of seven selections titled 'The Best Kid-friendly Hikes in the U.S., According to Parents,' both Hanging Lake and Pikes Peak made the cut.
Hanging Lake is a popular hike found in the Glenwood Springs area that offers a short, uphill climb to a stunning forest lake scene. It features waterfalls, lush surroundings, and is easy to access.
Due to Hanging Lake's high traffic, reservations are required for this hike at $12 per person. It's also worth noting that the trail is currently closed due to damage from flooding related to the burn scar of the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire, which burnt part of the trail, but left the lake itself unscathed.
Once this destination eventually reopens, parents should be warned that the climb up this trail is quite steep, with an elevation gain of around 1,200 in about a mile. This can mean a slower pace and a risk of altitude sickness. The town reports that small children tend to find this hike difficult. Drop-offs are also present in a few limited spots.
This selection made the cut for this list for being a great hike for families with teens.
The second Colorado 'hike' to make the list was "Pikes Peak." Rather than pointing to a specific trail on the mountain, the publication noted that The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is a great ADA accessible family-friendly option for experiencing nature. This is a train that travels from Manitou Springs to the summit of the peak.
In regard to family-friendly hiking trails on this mountain, one of the best experiences may be found in taking the road up to the summit, stopping to hike around scenic spots found along the way. As the road climbs in elevation, terrain changes, providing a first-hand look at varied landscapes. Hike around a reservoir, large boulders, and forest.
There are also two summiting routes up Pikes Peak – the Crags and Barr Trail. Both of these routes are strenuous and wouldn't be great for small children. Athletic families with teens may enjoy these options, but thorough research should be conducted beforehand and the risk of altitude sickness should be understood. Barr Trail is longer, but more gradual, 24 miles in total. The Crags route is steeper, but shorter, about 14.5 miles.
See the full list from Travel + Leisure here.
Finding a kid-friendly hiking route can be intimidating, but in Colorado, there are plenty of options to choose from.
AllTrails.com is a great place to start. Select a given area and read trail descriptions, paying careful attention to distance and elevation gain. Most 'kid-friendly' hikes will be under five miles in distance with a beginner or intermediate rating, though this rating can obviously vary depending on skill level, age, athleticism, and experience.
Those bringing young children on the trail should be highly aware of signs of altitude sickness in youth, including nausea and dizziness, among other things. Make sure everyone has an adequate amount of water, sun block, and layers for warmth. Families should also make sure they're communicating their full plan and timeline with someone that's not with them in case something goes wrong.
STAY INFORMED: Sign-up for the daily OutThere Colorado newsletter here