Originally written & posted by Tara of Back Road Ramblers

The following hikes, rambles, and walks are perfect for families with children. Most are under five miles, and all have a kid-friendly feature to help entice them along. The best way to encourage my own kids down a trail is with the promise of water for swimming. We’ve got a few more tricks up our sleeves if you’re interested, but a good many of our favorite trails surround lakes, meander along rivers, or end up at the bottom of waterfalls.

Here they are – in my humble opinion – the very best hikes for kids in Southern Vermont:

Hikes for Kids in Southwestern Vermont

Lake Shaftsbury State Park, Shaftsbury, Vermont

An autumn view from the beach at Lake Shaftsbury State Park

An autumn view from the beach at Lake Shaftsbury State Park

This 84-acre park is small, but well-loved. It is most popular as a picnic and swimming spot for local families, but the trail around the lake is underappreciated and quite lovely. The hike is more of a ramble — a mile in length, meandering through the woods, then wetlands, than back into the woods, with a constant view of the lake. Waterfowl are plentiful most of the year, and we’ve also spotted bald eagles and osprey on numerous occasions. After your hike, your kiddos will want to spend some time on the water, and the beach is the perfect spot for relaxing with a good book. I highly recommend driving south on route 7A for another mile and visiting the Chocolate Barn for the best ice cream you’re ever likely to taste in Southern Vermont.

Difficulty level: easy
Length of trail: 1 mile loop
Kid appeal: swimming, boardwalk through wetlands, decent fishing, boat rentals
Dogs: nope
Fee: $4 for adults, $2 for children

For more on this hike, check out: An Autumn Walk Around Lake Shaftsbury