9 Nature Trails for Your Next Family Hike
Richard Lieber Memorial Trail, Florida
Open: Year-Round 1 of 10
Changing ecosystems, ranging from floodplain forest to primeval swamp, make this one of the most interesting nature trails to walk. After a few minutes, you'll come to a boardwalk, which allows you to trek across the swamp. Watch for rare birds and wetland creatures like alligators. Camp at Highlands Hammock
Burr Oak Nature Trail, Iowa
Open: Year-round 2 of 10
Take a self-guided tour of Viking Lake State Park on the 1-mile Burr Oak Nature Trail. Locate specific plants, trees and shrubs found within the park, and learn about their significance with the accompanying booklet. There are five more miles of hiking paths nearby if you want to explore some more.
Nature Center Trail, New York
Open: Year-Round 3 of 10
Few nature trails are handicapped-accessible, but this one at the Wellesley Island State Park is. This 1/4-mile wooded wetlands route is just long enough for a short afternoon stroll with the family. Bring food and enjoy lunch at trailside picnic table. Don't forget to check out the seasonal butterfly house, which is accessible from the path.
Coldwater River Nature Trail System, Mississippi
Open: Year-round 4 of 10
This system includes the interpretive trail, as well as the Swinging Bridge Nature Trail, both of which are meant to educate you on the local ecosystem and wildlife. They're both open year-round, so be sure to get out and explore on a warm spring day or sunny summer afternoon. Camp at Hernando Point
Williwaw Nature Trail, Alaska
Open: May through September 5 of 10
Alaska is home to a variety of nature trails, and this creek-side path is surely one of the most scenic. Take the 1.25-mile trail from the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform, and continue along as it passes three ponds. Look for beavers and salmon in the ponds and Williwaw spawning channel.
Wooded Hills Nature Trail, California
Open: May to August 6 of 10
Located in the Wooded Hill Group Campground, an hour east of San Diego, is one of the few nature trails that actually have a significant elevation gain. Take this short route to the highest wooded point on Laguna Mountain where you're rewarded with views of San Diego, Point Loma and the Channel Islands.
Pioneer Nature Trail, Kansas
Open: April through October 7 of 10
This Kansas campground is home to a number of hiking trails, but the Pioneer Nature Trail is known as the most scenic in the park. At 1.25-miles long, you have just enough time to see animals and wildflowers, which are both found in this area most times of the year. The most unique feature is the existence of buffalo wallows—a large depression in the ground—which were created when buffalo roamed the lands in the 1800s.
Moraine Nature Trail, Wisconsin
Open: Year-Round 8 of 10
This easy .75-mile nature trail is perfect for young children looking to learn and explore. Bring the self-guided booklet, which you can print at A DNR.WI.gov, to identify the most common trees of Kettle Moraine State Park, where the trail is located. Try the other two nature trails within the park for more exploring.
Old Hickory Lake Nature Trail, Tennessee
Open: May through September 9 of 10
With three loops, this 1.1-mile system is made up of three nature trails, all of which offer plenty of diversity to keep you interested from start to finish. The Willow Swamp Loop travels along a boardwalk, taking you through a wetland ecosystem. If you want to see animals, head to the Woodland Loop, where raccoons, rabbits and other small critters roam around. Finally, enjoy woodland birds on the tranquil, secluded Wildlife Loop.