One of my favorite things to do with my son is hit a trail. Though I’ve been hiking my whole life, it’s certainly different with a kid in tow! Now that he’s 3 ½, I get asked quite often for tips, tricks and good starter trails for little ones. I love living so close to several of the Great Parks of Hamilton County with easy access to an awesome trail system. You’ll never see my car without a yearly pass affixed to the windshield!
I know hiking can be intimidating for people who don’t consider themselves “outdoorsy” types. That’s why I chose to feature the Avoca Trailhead to Bass Island section on the Little Miami Scenic Trail. It’s a great place to start! Here are some pointers I want to share–just in time for warmer weather and spring breaks.
Did you know we have the third longest paved trail in the whole country right in our own backyard? The Little Miami Scenic Trail is almost 80 miles long and can be accessed from a variety of locations. For this visit, I decided to enter from the Avoca Trailhead with the goal of walking to the Bass Island area (find information for both here). At just under a mile one-way, this was the perfect length for a brief outing with my preschooler. Since the surface is level and paved it’s great for little feet and strollers.
My son loves construction and structures of all sorts. He was excited about the tunnel and bridge near Bass Island! We also saw tons of early wildflowers and lots of birds.
Since this is a mixed-use trail (running, cycling, walking and rollerblading were all observed on this trip), I think it’s a great way to teach children trail etiquette. Since there are two lanes, it’s great to show kids how to stay to one side, demonstrate how to allow cyclists and runners to pass and also how to stick to the path to avoid disturbing vegetation. Interpretive signs teach visitors about the ecology and history of the area.
Tips and Tricks
- As mentioned above, this is a mixed-use trail with many serious athletes putting in miles. Cyclists and anyone else moving faster than you will typically alert you to their presence when passing on your left and sometimes it’s helpful to stop or step to the side to let them get by. Always stay to one side in the proper lane (just like a road) and be conscious of your surroundings.
- You won’t need special equipment for this one, making it great for beginners. Comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing is all you need!
If you stick to the section of the trail I chose, you won’t need to take much. Light snacks, baby items and drinks should be sufficient.
- This section takes you near several dining options at the turnaround point. On this trip, my son and I stopped for pizza! You could also stop at Bass Island’s picnic area before heading back to Avoca.
- The rest of the trail offers many options as well. Hop on Google Maps to plan your outing (the trail shows up as an option so you can gauge walking time). You could make an entire day of the trail if you wanted.
- Make sure you keep a close eye on kids. This is a very safe trail but does take you near the road and the Little Miami River at certain points.
A sign welcoming trail visitors to several nearby establishments.
Other Great Parks Hiking Options For Families
- Sharon Woods/Gorge Trail: (personal favorite) .7-mile nature (gravel) trail (roundtrip 1.4), cuts through glacial gorge, woods, waterfalls, bridge over gorge, ends at dam & Sharon Lake.
- Glenwood Gardens/Wetland Loop: 1.6-mile nature (gravel) trail, see wetlands, meadow, prairie, grassland, woodland and wildlife. Beautiful overlook and visitor center.
- Miami Whitewater Forest/Badlands Trail: 1.7-mile windy/hilly trail through the woods. Features a waterfall and plenty of shade.
- Shawnee Lookout/Miami Fort Trail: this 1.4 mile trail (2.8 roundtrip) is all uphill the first half, but worth it once you reach the top that overlooks the Ohio River and Great Miami River valley (can see OH, IN & KY). Surrounded by Native American archeological earthworks.
Have you visited a Great Parks trail with your kids?
What’s your favorite?
Tell us in the comments.