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Hiking with the kids: A healthy alternative to TV

Hiking in the Adirondacks is a popular activity enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. The region offers a plethora of choices ranging from full-blown alpine summits to shorter, flatter strolls and everything in between. The beauty and the vastness of the area is enjoyed equally by the hardcore backpacker and the leisurely day hiker. Taking your kids on the trail is a great family activity offering many rewards and memories.

It is important to choose a hike that matches the ability and comfort level of your family. Pushing them too hard can ruin the fun and sour their spirit for hiking. Choosing a hike that is realistic for all involved is the better way to go and can help foster a love for the trail and for the outdoors. In this electronic world that we live in, connecting with nature and the outdoors is more important than ever. Keep it fun and keep it simple until your family gains the experience to tackle more challenging hikes.

The choices are nearly endless throughout the Adirondack region and most of us do not have to travel far to enjoy some spectacular opportunities. If your children are young and inexperienced, perhaps a flatter and shorter loop is the best way to go. Their are numerous trails of this nature both within the park and outside of its borders. Most of these are on state land, however, the Nature Conservancy also maintains several novice trails throughout the region. Many of these easier trails lead to a body of water, a lean to or some other landmark and can offer the hikers a reward by reaching their destination. Usually, the destination is somewhat remote and often breathtaking. If your children are older and more experienced, perhaps hiking a mountain is appropriate. There are numerous smaller peaks in the area with good trails and spectacular scenery. Recently, my three boys and I hiked to the summit of Silver Lake Mountain in southern Clinton County. This particular trail is about nine tenths of a mile long and rises nine hundred vertical feet where you reach a summit of rock outcrops and a wonderful panorama. I wasn't sure if my five year old son would be able to summit and I was prepared to turn back if necessary. My older sons were setting a solid pace, but I let the little guy set his own and rest whenever he wanted. I was delighted when he reached the summit on his own power and we all celebrated the invigorating accomplishment.

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