Northern Nevada is a hiker’s paradise with its scenic arrays of lakes, mountains and alpine forests. Hikers with young children don’t have to miss out on this fun and healthy activity! Here are ten easy hikes that are suitable for young children and will inspire them to become life-long hikers.
1. Rancho San Rafael Park Nature Trail (Reno)
This trail is a 6.6 mile loop that runs through Rancho San Rafael Park. It is appropriate for families and dogs and is wonderful for nature watching. Total elevation gain is 633 feet. The park also has a museum and a botanical garden for additional activities after your hike is over. The park is located at 1595 N. Sierra Street in Reno.
2. Oxbow Nature Study Area Nature Trail (Reno)
This trail is slightly under a mile with a very minimal elevation gain. It runs along a river and a small pond. There are many shady areas to walk under which is great for avoiding the summer heat. The trail is located at 3100 Dickerson Road in Reno.
3. Truckee River Walk (Reno)
This paved trail is suitable for all skill levels and is used for walking, running, road biking and dog walking. It is 2.2 miles with an elevation of 192 feet. The trail is a nice combination of natural and city views. You can access the trail from several points such as Arlington Avenue at Island Avenue (by Wingfield Park) in downtown Reno.
4. Huffaker Hills Trail (Reno)
This 1.8 mile trail forms a loop with a small elevation gain of 265 feet. It is suitable for all skill levels although some sections may be a bit rocky and small children could require assistance. The trail includes scenic views of wildflower-filled meadows and of Reno and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
There is little shade so make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen, hats and water for yourself and the kids. You can access the trail from the parking area off of Alexander Lake Road in Reno.
5. East Peak Trail/Gondola (Tahoe)
The East Peak Trail requires a ride on the Heavenly Gondola, which is sure to delight kids everywhere. The gondola ride requires a fee although children 4 and younger are free. The East Peak Trail is a 1.6 mile loop with a elevation gain of 400 feet. Keep in mind that you will be at an elevation of 9,100 feet.
Make sure you and the kids rest up along the trail if you need to! The trail has some truly stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley. There is also an observation deck, picnic tables and a food concession if you feel the need to take a snack break after your hike. The gondola is located at 4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe.
6. Emerald Bay (Tahoe)
Emerald Bay trail is an easy two mile paved loop. It's suitable for strollers but you will need to push them back up the hill on your return. Kids will enjoy views of the lake and the stop at Vikingsholm, a reproduction of a Norse castle. The park has a minimal day use fee. To reach the park, take Highway 89 north from South Lake Tahoe. Turn right into the Emerald Bay parking lot.
7. Eagle Falls (Tahoe)
Close to the Emerald Bay trail is the Eagle Falls trail. This is a one mile hike which is easy enough for children and gives them a view of the waterfall. The trail contains some stone steps so strollers are not an option. The hike can be strenuous in some points due to the incline but children should be able to make it through with some rest and encouragement!
To reach the trail, drive 9 miles north on Highway 89 from South Lake Tahoe. The parking lot is on left side. A parking fee and a wilderness permit is required. You can file the permit on site and it is free. Be aware that the parking lot can fill up early on busy days, so you may need to park along the road.
8. Lehman Caves (Great Basin National Park)
Lehman Cave is a treat for children looking for something different! The hike is about half a mile and is suitable for all skill levels. The hike is part of the guided cave tour which delves into the history and geology of the cave. The path is paved although there are some stairs. The cave is located at 5500 NV-488 in the Great Basin National Park (Baker, NV). There is a fee for the tour.
9. Alpine Lakes (Great Basin National Park)
This trail is a 2.7 mile round trip with an elevation gain of 800 feet. There are wonderful views of Wheeler Peak and Stella and Teresa Lakes. It is easy for children and families, but remember the elevation is around 10,000 feet. If you are new to the area you may need time to acclimate. The trail can be accessed from the Bristlecone Parking Area in the Great Basin National Park.
10. Island Forest (Great Basin National Park)
This small trail is about half a mile and is a great option for strollers and is wheelchair accessible. It makes its way through a forest of conifer and aspen trees. Signs describe the flora and fauna of the area. The trail can be accessed from the Bristlecone Parking Area in the Great Basin National Park.
Have you tried any of these hikes, or other family friendly hikes in Northern Nevada to recommend? Share in the comments!