This summer I’ve been on a mission.
To find hiking destinations with nice scenery, minimal elevation change and trails wide enough to accommodate a jogging stroller because let’s be honest–I’d love to ditch the Chariot but 1/2 mile down the trail I’m usually pushing one child and carrying the other.
I you’re looking to find us on a weekday morning there’s a good chance that we’re meandering our way along one of our 5 favorite kid-friendly hikes.
1. Chimney Park
The Chimney Park trail system has four main trails that meander through a forest of Pine and Aspen.
Most of the elevation changes are gentle except for certain sections of the Jelm View and Lodgepole Loops. The trails are wide, stroller-friendly and well marked with blue diamonds along the trail and signs at the intersections. In addition to the marked trails, some old Forest Service roads intersect the trails and provide additional opportunities for exploring and extra mileage for when the kids fall asleep and Mom wants to keep hiking.
You can read more about Chimney Park here.
The rail trail is my ‘go to’ trail when I’m hoping that the kids will fall asleep so I can get in along hike. With 6 different trailheads it’s easy to hike a different section of the trail every day. The entire trail is 22 miles long starting from the Dry Park Trailhead a few miles south of Albany and ending at the Pelton Creek Trailhead along the Wyoming Colorado Border.
The trail follows the graded railroad bed of the old Hahns Peak and Pacific Railroad through the Medicine Bow National Forest.
We’ve seen deer, woodpeckers, moose and cow on this trail making it a good one for wildlife spotting and this trail is very well maintained and easy to push a jogging stroller on. One note of caution however, this trail is closed to ATV’s but you will see motorized vehicles on this trail-especially near Fox Park.
You can find more information about the Medicine Bow Rail Trail here.
3. Lake Owen Loop
There is a nice 2 mile loop around Lake Owen that is not officially part of the rail trail, but still in the vicinity of the rail trail. We love this trail on hot days because it offers several chances to stop and splash in Lake Owen along the way. You can also see burned trees from the recent Owen Fire. Every time we go back there’s evidence of new growth and I like being able to talk to my boys about forest fires and the regrowth period after a fire.
There is a small section where the trail mysteriously disappears into a marsh near the campground which is annoying but you can still push a stroller through the grass. It’s easy to pick the trail up back at the campground.
We don’t have a trail map for this short trail but you can get to it from the Lake Owen trailhead for the Medicine Bow Rail Trail, just follow the loop around the lake.
4. Pole Creek Trail
While I like starting our hikes from the Tie City or Happy Jack trailheads (especially on days when we only have an hour or so to hike) they are frequently busy with mountain bike traffic. When I’m with my kids I feel like we take up the entire trail and get in the way so we drive down the road from the Happy Jack trailhead to the Pole Creek campground and start our hikes from there.
This trail is rarely used, wide enough to push a stroller and there’s a cool little bridge about 1/2 mile down the trail. It’s another place where we like to stop and splash around in warm days.
You can find out more about this trail here.
5. Bear Lake
The trek to Bear Lake in the Snowy Range is technically not a trail, it’s USFS Road 396. The parking lot is just past the turnoff to Sugarloaf and below the scenic overlook. But, the hike across Libby Flats is gorgeous! The road is open and you’ll see 4 wheel drive vehicles on it, but it doesn’t see a lot of vehicular traffic during the week.
Just be forewarned it’s downhill to the lake making it all uphill on the way back to the parking lot.
There are wildflowers, moose, and breathtaking panoramic vistas. It’s about 4 miles to the lake which is beautiful and worth every single step. We hiked through snow until mid-July along this road and it is closed to all motor vehicles during the winter. We’re going to try to cross-country ski down it this winter.
Have you hiked any of these trails? What are you favorite kid-friendly trails near Laramie?