8 Easy and Amazing National Park Hikes for Kids and Beginners

The RV Atlas Podcast
8 Easy and Amazing National Park Hikes for Kids and Beginners

Hiking in our amazing national parks is not just for rugged, outdoorsy types. While many hikes do require a certain amount of expertise–there are many national park hikes for kids and beginners that are user friendly and non intimidating. In fact, most national parks have a mix of hikes that range in difficulty from easy to difficult. If you are new to hiking, or if you are hiking with kids, don’t assume you can’t go on an epic hike that will fit your group’s fitness and/or ability level.

See below for eight easy and amazing National Park hikes for kids and beginners that will get you inspired to hit the trail–no matter who you are hiking with! But first–let’s meet our expert hiker and guest blogger who created this epic list!

Say Hello to Hiking Expert Erin Gifford

Our guest on the podcast this week (and our guest blogger in this post) is the wonderful and amazing Erin Gifford. Erin is the creator of the terrific hiking blog Go Hike Virginia and she is the author of three Falcon Guides: Hiking With Kids Virginia: 52 Great Hikes for Families, Virginia Summits: 40 Best Mountain Hikes from the Shenandoah Valley to Southwest Virginia, and Hiking Coastal Trails of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia: Waterfront Hikes from the Delmarva Peninsula to Virginia’s Tidewater Region. Erin is a true hiking expert and her blog is terrific even if you don’t live in or around Virginia. Her gear reviews are excellent and worth checking out no matter where you hike.

To listen to Erin talk about these “eight easy and amazing national park hikes for kids and beginners” please click on the media player above or subscribe to he RV Atlas wherever you get your podcasts. Or just read on to learn more! Photos and text below by Erin Gifford!

Also make sure to learn more about Erin’s tips for making hiking with kids fun and NOT miserable right here!

1. Grand Canyon National Park: Rim Trail 

photo by Erin Gifford

The Skinny: big views from an easy, paved trail that’s steps from an ice cream shop.

This trail is literally steps from where the shuttle drops you off in Grand Canyon Village. It’s 13 miles in length and is mostly paved–so you can make this one as long or as short as you life. It goes right along the edge of the Grand Canyon, so there are lots of great view points. You can also get ice cream at Hopi House in-season. Walk as far as you like if you want to avoid some of the crowds that are closer in to the village.

2: Saguaro National Park: Valley View Overlook Trail 

photo by Erin Gifford

The Skinny: easy hike in the west unit to a view across a valley of saguaros.

This trail in the park’s more popular west unit is less than one mile and you’ll be surrounded by saguaro cacti the whole time. There are two view points at the end for west and south facing views. The bench at the west overlook is a great place to settle in for a sunset or to simply enjoy the vast valley below that’s teeming with saguaros.

Joshua Tree National Park – Heart Rock & Arch Rock via Arch Rock Trail 

hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

photo By Erin Gifford

The Skinny: cool rock formations, some easy rock scrambling.

This is less than a two mile hike but with no shade it can get toasty in summer, so bring plenty of water. Before you reach Arch Rock, there’s a cool rock scramble area that’s fun for kids. Arch Rock can be hard to miss, so keep your eyes open for the signs. Heart Rock looks like what you’d expect. A heart. The Skull Rock hike is also cool (also less than two miles) but you can also see the Skull Rock from the park road.

Shenandoah National Park: Blackrock Summit 

hiking in Shenandoah National Park

photo by Erin Gifford

The Skinny: steps on the Appalachian Trail to a rock scramble and Shenandoah Valley views.

This easy trail is a loop that’s less than two miles and includes steps on the iconic Appalachian Trail. Within the first half-mile you’ll reach a clearing with a massive rock slide and big valley views at Blackrock Summit. The trailhead is also less than five miles on Skyline Drive from Loft Mountain Wayside which has restrooms and a gift shop, including drinks and ice cream snacks.

Rocky Mountain National Park- 5 Lakes Hike 

photo by Erin Gifford

The Skinny: not the official hike name, but a cool hike to five alpine lakes.

This is a longer hike, just over five miles, but access to these five gorgeous alpine lakes is pretty amazing (Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake, Dream Lake & Haiyaha Lake). Visit one or all five lakes. Note that you will need a timed entry ticket during high season (late-May to late-October) that includes access to the Bear Lake Road Corridor. The fee is $2 per vehicle.

New River Gorge National Park: Long Point Trail 

photo by Erin Gifford

The Skinny: hike to a rocky overlook with fantastic bridge views.

This three mile out-and-back trail in America’s newest National Park only has a mild incline and leads to a rocky overlook with a fantastic view of the entire New River Gorge Bridge. Make sure you bring your camera when you go.


Arches National Park: Landscape Arch or Double Arch 

hiking in Arches National Park

photo by Erin Gifford

The Skinny: both short, easy hikes to see cool arches.

There are lots of short, easy hikes at Arches, including the Landscape Arch Trail (1.9 miles), which leads to a huge arch, and the Double Arch Trail (.6 miles). Both are amazing and should not be missed. Note that you will need a timed entry reservation, which can be purchased up to three months in advance, and are required from April through October. Reservations are $2 per vehicle.

Canyonlands National Park: White Rim Overlook Trail

photo by Erin Gifford

The Skinny: hike along the edge of the canyon. You can see the White Rim Trail down below.

This is a very cool, rugged hike along the edge of the canyon. You can see down below the White Rim Trail, which is a popular long distance mountain bike route (100 miles). The Mesa Arch Trail (less than one mile) is also beautiful and very popular. Both are in the Islands in the Sky District (the park is divided into four districts).

The RV Atlas Podcast
8 Easy and Amazing National Park Hikes for Kids and Beginners

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