Keystone is full of fun things to do outdoors in the summertime. Downhill mountain biking, fly fishing, whitewater rafting and more. But, what about those of us stuck with the babies, toddlers and small kids who are not quite ready to do those more advanced and adventurous activities? Sometimes you don’t want to be hassled to buy candy or gifts as you take a walk through River Run and you just want to be out in nature. There is a great packed dirt nature trail just within reach of River Run that satisfies the need to get your kids into nature quickly.
Simply head toward the ski slopes! Cross over the skier bridge and head uphill to the left side of the ski slopes as you are facing the mountain. Go under the Summit Express ski lift and there is a trail through some tall spruce trees right near a hidden maintenance shed. The trail leads downward to some beaver ponds where you can fish or watch birds. The trail eventually leads into Keystone’s newest neighborhood, The Alders. Take your time and look for Columbine flowers, interesting rocks and keep your eyes open for fish, birds and other creatures along the way. The trail is quiet and very well marked.
Take the time to slow your kids down, have them search for things and stop and play. Kids will take the time if you do and embrace the small things and enjoy the natural setting. Make a simple hike into a scavenger hunt adventure. You can look for “Old Mans Beard” which is the green moss that grows on logs and trees. You can have the kids build small houses or even a village out of pine cones and 2″ sticks. Have them point out and identify animal footprints and various Colorado wildflowers. Draw a quick sketch or picture of the flowers and look them up in a guidebook later. If you are lucky, you might even see a moose in the wetlands!
Take advantage of your family time together and get out on a fun hike the next time you are visiting Keystone! Your kids will love being out in nature and having fun discovering and exploring the great outdoors!
1. Think like a kid. Kids love adventures! When you are choosing a trail, think like a kid. Pick out one that has multiple features along the way- not just the grand finale at the end. Trails that follow a stream or pond, come across a meadow or have spectacular view are good choices. Many hiking trails in Keystone and Summit County feature old cabins or mining town remains- perfect to pair with a fun story about ‘history’ and the wild west!
2. Wander-ing is Fun! Kids are bound to take the path ‘less traveled’ by exploring as they go. Remember they might not always be pushing for ‘the end’ the same way adults do. Plan for distractions and diversions along the way and don’t be disappointed if you don’t always reach the end of the trail! The fun is in the journey, not always just the destination!
3. Assign a Guide.Your kids will love being the hike leader! Make a quick copy of the map of the trail and let them hang on to it and draw on if they want. Have them point out places they want to go and lead the way! Be on the lookout for animals and artifacts such as interesting stones, fossils, and wildflowers! Bring an inexpensive pair of binoculars and other fun toys like bug nets, whistles and a compass to enhance their fun. Follow their lead and have fun along the way!
4. Capture the Moment! Kids love being the center of attention- photograph them along the way with things they’ve found or next to that awesome lake- you’ll love the memories and they’ll love posing for the camera!
5. Always Be Prepared. You never know what will happen in the woods! Always make sure everyone has appropriate shoes, clothing, rain jackets, sunscreen, hats, food and water. Bring lots of snacks like nuts, string cheese, dried fruits, gummy candies, and M&M’s and let kids eat them as they please. It’s always a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit with neosporin, band-aids, etc. in case of emergencies. Don’t forget to bring a map or a GPS unit so you don’t get lost and a cell phone if you have one.
You will find that your family will love the beautiful scenery and the abundance of hiking trails here at Keystone Resort. Come prepared and everyone will have a great time enjoying the great outdoors! There are still 3 weeks left before school starts- meaning there is still time for a quick family getaway!!