Top Ten Family-Friendly Summit Hikes - Page 3
5. Tumalo Mountain, Oregon
Distance: 3.6 miles round-trip
Elevation: 7,600 feet
With a perfect summit for picnics, Tumalo Mountain is a local secret for escaping the summer heat. From the top, you have best-seat-in-the-house views of the southern Cascades, Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters. You can peer down on the ski slopes of Mt. Bachelor and across the endless volcanic plugs that make up Central Oregon. Tumalo Mountain is a shield volcano, so there are plenty of interesting lava formations to see. Follow the Cascades Lakes Highway for 20 minutes to the trailhead (across from the Mt. Bachelor entrance). The trail to the summit pushes through pine and fir forests, and then ascends the southwest flank of the volcano. The hike is relatively short, but the 1,200-foot elevation gain thwarts the faint of heart.
Deschutes National Forest Travel Guide
4. Mt. Caroline Livermore, California
Distance: 5-mile loop
Elevation: 788 feet
Kids love the fact that Angel Island is accessible only by boat. Now a state park, Angel Island has a rich Native American, immigrant, and military history. The trail follows an old road and is partially pavedideal for small kids, grandparents, and everyone in between. On the summit, you'll see unforgettable views of the San Francisco Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, and Alcatraz Sausalito. There are several ferries that provide access to Angel Island. You are dropped off at Ayala Cove, where you start the hike.
San Francisco Travel Guide
3. Harney Peak, South Dakota
Distance: 6 miles round-trip
Elevation: 7,244 feet
This is Indian territory straight out of the wild west. Mika-flecked rock glitters like gold along the trail up Harney Peak. You'll pass secret caves and rain-filled ponds worn deep into the sparkling granite. Named for General William S. Harney, commander of the U.S. army troops in the Black Hills in the 1870s, Harney Peak is the tallest mountain in South Dakota and the highest point between the U.S. Rocky Mountains and Pyrenees. The summit rises above the rough-hewn peaks of the Black Hills and the granite spires of the Needles. The view extends to four states, with Mount Rushmore National Memorial to the northwest, and the dense forests and towering rock formations of the 71,000-acre Custer State Park to the south. The best family route is Trail #9 that starts at Sylvan Lake. Stop at the big flat rock about a quarter of the way up. From the rock, the peak looks impossibly far away. But the distance is an illusion; a couple more easy miles and you have the summit. Expect to see deer and maybe mountain goats, and don't be surprised to happen on a buffalo or two, which, of course, you shouldn't approach. A one-day vehicle pass to Custer State Park is $12.
Custer State Park Travel Guide
2. Dog Mountain, Washington
Distance: 7 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Moderate (but steep)
Elevation: 2,984 feet
The Dog Mountain trail starts at the Columbia River and climbs through lush forest to nearly 3,000 feet to bird's nest views of the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens. Far below, the mighty Columbia carves its way through the rocky gorge; much of the landscape unchanged in the nearly 200 years since Lewis and Clark explored its fast-flowing waters. About an hour east of Portland, on the Washington side of the Columbia, Dog Mountain is known for its vast meadows of wild flowers, with bright yellow bitter root, purple lupine, and red Indian paintbrush that put on a banquet of color in the spring and summer. From the easy-to-find trail head about 15 minutes from I-84 and the Bridge of the Gods, the trail is steep but easy to follow. The trail from the parking lot forks after about 0.25 mile—families should bear right, as that fork covers less steep terrain. Round trip distance is five to seven miles (depending on which trail you choose). And, of course, you can bring your canine friend.
Columbia River Gorge Travel Guide
1. Mt. Monadnock, New Hampshire
Distance: 5 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Easy Elevation: 3,165 feet
Mt. Monadnock is the most climbed mountain in North America, taking backseat only to Japan's Mt. Fuji as the most popular peak in the world. The reason? Just an hour's drive north of Boston, in southeast New Hampshire, the accessible granite-capped mountain affords views of all six New England states. The expansive vistas from Boston to Mt. Washington have inspired the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain. There are steeper routes to the summit, but the Dublin Trail, which starts outside of Monadnock State Park, just off NH 101, has the gentlest grade. The Dublin Trail climbs 2.5 miles to the top, past magnificent hardwood forests and over giant bands of hard, gray granite. Elevation gain is about 1,600 feet. Kids from kindergarten up can do the hike, but you'll want to hold younger kids' hands on the summit slabs. In August, the wild blueberries are delicious. Entrance to the park is $4 for adults, $2 for children.
Monadnock State Park Travel Guide