Despite being overweight, one of our favorite activities has always been hiking and that is an enjoyment that we have been able to share with our oldest children. It is not easy to go hiking with a baby, so it had been a few years since we had indulged ourselves in this free family activity. Three-year-olds, however, are completely able to go hiking on easy trails and Kentucky is not lacking for hiking trails.
We packed Auggie’s backpack with water, emergency pull-ups, and diaper wipes, and aimed the car at Raven’s Run Nature Sanctuary. This gorgeous property is just outside of Lexington, KY and has multiple trails at varying degrees of difficulty.
We opted for the Green Trail, aka the Meadow Trail, which is the easiest. It’s also the hottest trail since it is in a meadow (i.e. no trees for shade) and it doesn’t swing by the river at all. Volunteers work very hard to remove any invasive plants/trees and upkeep the native ones. It’s a beautiful hike regardless of what trail you choose. We have been on all but 1 (a four-hour hike).
Auggie did fantastic and walked the long way from the parking lot to the nature center by himself. Then the long way from the nature center to the trailhead. He did the whole hike by himself, stopping only to get a closer look at a rock, bug, or plant. He even stayed on the trail and didn’t run ahead of us.
Of course with it being a meadow, the danger was minimal. There are trails there that have rock overhangs looking at the river and last year a young woman did fall off of one. I don’t recommend ever taking a small child on a trail that you haven’t been on yourself first and always consider your physical ability as well as the ability of those with you. Since it had been a few years, hubby and I knew that we are too out of shape for any of the river trails that go downhill at first just to force you to go uphill later. Plus Auggie’s little legs would have protested and there is no fun in carrying a tired, cranky 3-year-old off of a trail.
So take them hiking and explore nature. Encourage them to take pictures, to get down to the level of a bug and follow where it goes, to smell a wildflower, and even pick up many pebbles to ask you what they are. Auggie sounded like a cheerful Charlie Brown calling out “I got a rock!” multiple times.
The nature center at Raven’s Run even has a touch table for children to touch bird feathers (found on the trail and cleaned by the workers), small animal skulls, turtle shells, and fossils. In addition to that, they even have wonderful events throughout the year. We are looking for a reasonably priced telescope to be able to go to their stargazing events.
Summer family fun doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun for the whole family.
FYI: Lina was a little annoyed with me in the picture above. I kept getting onto her for getting ahead of all of us. Sometimes the little ones act up and sometimes the big ones do.
And a thanks to Michael for these gorgeous pictures.