Eight Family-Friendly Trails to Celebrate National Trails Day

Posted 06/05/15 by Katie Harris in America's Trails, Trail Use

Photo by Cleo Fogel

There are two great reasons to celebrate in early June: the end of the school year...and National Trails Day! To help kick things off right, RTC is pleased to bring you this list of eight of the most family-friendly, “School’s out for summer!” trails in the country.

Rickenbacker Trail

Florida, 8.5 miles

Pristine beaches, coastal dunes, snorkeling and an amusement center: You can find all these fun amenities—and more—along the Rickenbacker Trail on Key Biscayne, an island just south of Miami, Florida. Crandon Park, which covers more than 800 acres on the northern end of the island, was once a coconut plantation. At the southern end is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, where a well-deserved snorkeling excursion is highly encouraged after your eight-mile journey. Note: Your kiddos will beg to get a birds-eye view from the historic lighthouse on the southern tip of the key.

Steam into History Civil War-era replica train at Heritage Rail-Trail County Park, Pa. | Photo by John Gensor

Heritage Rail Trail County Park

Pennsylvania, 22 miles

If the Civil War-era replica train that chugs alongside the trail at Heritage Rail Trail County Park doesn’t entice your young’uns, then the costumed interpreters sure will. There’s nothing quite like a fully-bearded Abe Lincoln look-alike to spice up your trail experience! The history alongside the trail is rich, and visitors can unearth new discoveries around every turn. You’ll have to visit for yourself to get the full experience!

Tony Knowles Nature Trail

Alaska, 11 miles

A trip to Anchorage wouldn’t be complete without a journey along the Tony Knowles Nature Trail. One of the neatest features is the Anchorage Light Speed Planet Walk, a scale model of our solar system that translates your walking pace into the speed of light! A local high school graduate, Eli Menaker, designed the walk, which is sure to intrigue kids of any age!

Discovery Trail


Are your kids explorers at heart? If so, why not check out the Discovery Trail in the southwest corner of the Evergreen State? Bronze sculptures that commemorate the Lewis and Clark Expedition line the path. Take a break at Beard's Hollow, and gaze over the mighty Pacific Ocean. Close out your day at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, where historians will give you the inside scoop on the famous expedition that would help change the face of the United States.

Trestle ride on the Route of the Hiawatha, Idaho | Photo by Chuck Schmidt

Route of the Hiawatha


Big skies and dense forest landscapes dominate the Route of the Hiawatha. Travel above the trees as you cross the many trestles along the way. Be prepared for some heights; kids will squeal as they peer down into the depths below!

Gen. James A. Van Fleet State Trail

Florida, 29 miles

This 29-mile trail invites more than just two-legged trail users! Your kids will love to scout for armadillos, buzzards, tortoises, and possibly an alligator or two basking on the trail's warm asphalt surface. An additional bonus: The entire trail is completely paved and smooth sailing for little ones. As the trail meanders through the massive Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, you’ll forget that you’re only an hour from Disney World!

Lackawanna Rail Trail


A short-but-sweet one, the Lackawanna Rail Trail harkens back to times past. In the north, you’ll find Eldridge Park, once home to an amusement park of the same name. Take a ride on the restored carousel, pop into the dance hall pavilion, check out the arcade, and appease your sweet tooth at the ice cream shop. Fun for the whole family!

On the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail, Calif. | Photo by RTC/Laura Cohen

Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail

California, 25 miles

This Rail-Trail Hall-of-Fame trail in the Golden State is so much more than just a converted railroad bed; it’s a celebrated community gem! Susanville, the town at the eastern terminus, hosts a Rails to Trails Festival each year, which includes a salsa and chili cook-off, and a handcar race. How cool is that? This year’s festivities are on Oct. 10, so get your kids on board, and start planning now!

For more trails across the country, and to find a trail near you, visit TrailLink.com!

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