Katherine Coggeshall’s children on the Canyon Rim Trail. Courtesy photo
By Katharine Coggeshall
Hello, sun! It’s finally the season for hiking, and as the new mom on the block I’ve been hunting for the best local hikes for kids.
I’ve discovered quite a few in and around Los Alamos that range from stroller-friendly to toddler-schlepping. (Think of all the calorie burning that will justify the leftover mac-n-cheese you ate.)
Of the many local hikes available, these are my favorites so far.
Acid Canyon Loop: According to the numbers recorded at the PEEC nature center, this is the most popular family hike in town. The trailhead begins at the Aquatic Center parking lot and leads you into the shady canyon. This hike is not stroller friendly, but you can easily carry your little ones while your older children (about 5 years and up) enjoy the wide and scenic trail. There are many longer trails that connect to this one in the canyon.
Canyon Rim Trail: This is the official name, although I refer to it as “the one behind Smiths.” Please note, this is not a loop! The entire trail is about 3 miles, so unless you have Herculean children, be prepared to turn around or hunker down and have a picnic to refuel. That said, this trail is the most ideal for strollers. The width of the trail, paving, and inset from the canyon make it the perfect place to stroll with other moms or a large group.
The Reservoir: Often overlooked, this very gentle hike (okay, it’s a walk) offers a beautiful reward, a glimpse of water. Tucked away by the ice skating rink, the reservoir trail is wide, scenic, and fairly shaded. Sturdy strollers can handle the unpaved road. Kids of all ages can handle the flat, safe terrain. Feel free to dip your toes in the water at the end of the trail!
Camp May: Want to enjoy the ski hill when there’s no snow? Hike! More ideal for kindergarteners and up, hiking around Camp May offers a fun physical challenge for kids. This is higher altitude, so extra sunscreen and water are a must. This area offers ample opportunity for photos as well.
Bayo Canyon: Great for any age, although it’s not stroller-friendly, this hike offers several offshoots. The variety will keep your kids hooked on this option time after time. The trailhead is located next to the roundabout between Barranca and North Mesa. There is a fun, painted tunnel you can use to distract your little ones while you slather on their sunscreen.
For more family friendly hikes, download the Los Alamos trails app. You can filter trails by difficulty and whether they are good for kids. Each trail description includes pictures, a map, and GPS tracking. You will never have to guess at where to park or how to find a trailhead.
The PEEC Nature Center features the LA trails app on its interactive screen displays. PEEC also offers a hiking passport with prize incentives. To learn more about this program, visit the nature center at 2600 Canyon Road.
Remember, Los Alamos hiking has some special considerations. Always wear sunscreen because the UV exposure is high; UV protective clothing is also advisable. Bring water because we are in the desert and at high altitude, both dehydrating factors. And, be prepared for sudden changes in weather, such as storms and lightning.
To end this on a lighter note than sunburns and lightning strikes, New Mexico is home to some of the most picturesque and natural beauty the world has to offer. Take advantage of this outdoor playground with your little ones as much as you can!