As a parent of three young kids, I know how difficult it is to get out the door to go anywhere. Over the years I have learned how make my family hiking adventures go more smoothly whether I’m hiking alone with my children or with other people.
We are look back at the end of the year and contemplate the past year. In 2015, we ushered a new little hiker into the world and our life slowed down. We were still able to have some great mini-adventures and my top family hiking adventure was a wonderful day hike at Frog Lake on the Pacific Crest Trail. Frog Lake, Carson Pass, Mokulumne Wilderness, El Dorado National Forest, California Sierras, Outdoor Families, Family Hiking, Chasqui Mom
I could finish my post with that picture of the top of Bearfence Mountain. Everyone around me in the East Coast kept saying, "Now remember our mountains are not like California mountains" but I've learned to love all my National Parks. National Parks are like my children, you can't compare them to one another because that would be mean, and each one provides its own uniqueness. Instead, I have learned to enjoy each child, in this case Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, for what it is.
I recently read "Wilderness Society's "15 National Parks for Fall Color" and Shenandoah was No.2 on their list, so I was very excited to visit during fall peak period. We don't have as many "Fall Colors" in the San Francisco Bay Area as the East Coast does, so it was a nice change in weather and scenery for our family.
As a family of hikers at heart, we were very excited to hike on the Appalachian Trail even if it was a tiny section of it. Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along also recommended Bearfence Mountain because it would give us 360 degree view of Shenandoah, its beautiful fall colors, and her recommendation did not disappoint. She also knew that my toddlers would love rock scrambling at the top of Bearfence Mountain which they certainly did!
|Our first steps on the Appalachian Trail near Bearfence Moutain.|
For more detailed trail information please visit: Lewis Mountain Area Road and Trail Map (National Park Service)
The trail starts off with wooden steps which always motivates my son to hike more than an uphill trail with no steps. I don't know why but he loves going uphill on stairs but he loves to race to the top...I'm just happy he's not complaining about going uphill!
|My boy on the crossroads of the AT and Bearfence Mountain Trail|
|180 degree Bearfence Mountain View Point. Oh beautiful fall!|
|Time to Family Rock Scramble!|
We experienced two new outdoor "aspects" on our hike to Bearfence Mountain:
- Rock Scrambling: It'ts kind of a hybrid of hiking and rock climbing, with no ropes or climbing gear and not really on a traditional trail. For a more detailed description of rock scrambling please visit "Basic Rock Scrambling". The difficulty of Bearfence Mountain rock scramble climb was easy enough for my four year old son and a five month pregnant Chasqui Mom to complete. Granted we were still very cautious and hand guided our son down certain sections of the way. Note: There is both an uphill and downhill rock scrambling on Bearfence Mountain.
- Trail Blazing: This isn't very common in California, or at least in the San Francisco Bay Area. What is it? It's a painted mark on rocks, posts or trees to designate the way or trail. I can see how someone can easily get lost with all the foliage/snow covering the ground or in this case the trail on the rocks (see middle picture in collage). It also provided a "game" for our children to find the next blaze on the trail, kind of like hide-and-seek for toddlers.
|View of the west 1st picture, view of the east|
Hike Date: October 20, 2014
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Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world
~ John Muir ~
Have you ever seen a child romp through the forest? Have you listened to a child talking while walking through the mountains? Sure, hiking with children is difficult, slower, tedious and harder on your back, but there is a different level of wonder that is seen through a child's eyes.
Muir Grove in
might not be a big attraction but it truly is a nice hike. The great thing about Sequoia National Park is that there are Sequoias very near the General's Highway. This gives great accessibility BUT this also means very large crowds which is something my family is not a big fan of. We wanted to see the Sequoias but wanted the solitude of the "Outdoors", so off we headed hiking to Muir Woods near Dorst Creek Campground.
Hiking to the Sequoias
This is a moderate, family-friendly, 4.2 mile round trip hike to Muir Grove, but in all reality we added a little over 2 miles for a total of 6.3 miles from our campground in Dorst Creek. We walked from our campsite to the trailhead but we got a little confused about where it was, we eventually found the Muir Grove trailhead but added two miles over all to the hike. Every step adds up when you think about it. The trailhead is
near the campsite #178
, which crosses a little bridge over Cabin Creek.
Immediately on the trail, we enjoyed the sounds of the flowing Cabin Creek and were glad the creek was not dried up yet due to
. It was quite refreshing to hear water flowing and to see the greenery all around us.
The hike has a slight uphill trail to Muir Grove with sections of flat and down hill sections. The trail is a very shaded with just one section of exposed granite halfway to Muir Grove. There were signs of bears everywhere....almost every fallen tree had been shredded by bears so we made sure our son never ran ahead. I happily told my son to blow his whistle as much as he wanted! Thankfully we never saw a bear while hiking to Muir Grove. All we saw was lush beautiful forest greenery!!
Just hiking along...
My daughters view point from down below...
I would suggest taking a kid carrier for little ones who can't hike this distance. My 4 year old son was able to hike the entire 6.3 miles but my 2 year old could not. Of course when we saw the Sequoias down the trail, everyone got excited to see the REALLY BIG TREES!!
Entering Muir Grove
Doesn't matter how many times I see Sequoias I'm always blown away by their sheer size. They provide a perspective that only Sequoias can provide. Just seeing the Sequoias brought back my happy childhood memories of endlessly running around the base of the trees with my older brother. I was very happy we had hiked out to Muir Grove with my children.
"Daddy, Mommy! Those trees are REALLY BIG! And they have caves!" my toddlers squealed. Now I understand why my parents brought my brother and me to Sequoia National Park so much.
When we arrived to Muir Grove, a couple of hikers were having lunch but they quickly packed up and left. We packed our lunch as well: Bolillo sandwiches. We enjoyed a picnic all by ourselves in the middle of Muir Grove. After lunch, my son and I explored the "caves" and I happily listened to my son imagining finding bears in the tree hollows and pretending to scare them. A little bit of family time at Muir Grove....
Time to EXPLORE....
Daughter hugging daddy, surrounded by the Sequoias hugging us....
Always look up....
The world from inside the tree, from my daughters eyes....
I must say this might not be a popular hike in Sequoia National Park but it was my family favorite. Muir Grove...where we played hide and seek, had Bolillo sandwiches and pretended we were giant bears in the tree trunks. Welcome to the world of family hiking, it's more fun this way.
Trail Report Detials
Who: Two Adults, Two Toddlers
Family Friendly: Moderate
Mileage: 4.2 miles from Trailhead, 6.3 actual from campsite
Elevation Change: 896 ft
Trails Description: Out and back trail, slight uphill hike
What's your favorite day hike in Sequoia National Park?
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