Hiking with a Preschooler

Dandelions, red-tailed hawks, pregnant bumble bees and more! We learned about vegetation, creatures big and small, winged and scaled… all during our two hour “riverside ramble” at Lake Erie Metro Park. Although this guided hike was on a paved path and only took us about a half mile, it was FULL of fun and really interesting facts about the wildlife that literally is in our backyard. My 3 year old may have been more interested in the trail mix (because it had chocolate nibs in it this time) but he gabbed endlessly to all those who would listen about how you can EAT dandelions, how Wood ducks LIVE in trees and how bees burrow in the GROUND!!

We are not planning our next family vacation around a hike on the Appalachian Trail but this was a great hiking introduction to our preschooler. He loves to run, throw rocks (not AT anyone) and dig with sticks. My responsibility, I feel, is to ALSO impart on him the love and respect our family has for the natural world. It’s easy to get caught up in a concrete jungle full of man-made things but Nature is the original architect and it’s pretty awe-inspiring!

We’ve experienced newborn babies in Spring, Maple syrup tapping in the last glints of winter as well as hiking and campfires all summer. The parks open at dawn and close at dusk. Admission is per car and is $5.00 per day or you can buy a yearly pass for $25.00 and get into all of the metro parks year round. This is NOT the sticker you can buy for an extra $10 when you renew your license plate every year, those are for State Parks like Belle Isle. Bathroom facilities are clean and plentiful. There are traditional playscapes, paved hiking trails and boat launches. There is also the amazing feeling of “getting lost” within a completely safe and comfortable environment. So whether you want to check out the wave pool or run on a dirt trail to train for your next marathon, these parks are amazing!

Setting up a hike with an interpreter at the Lake Erie Metro Park was simple and very inexpensive. The main website www.metroparks.com/events has a complete list of ALL of the activities coming up at a park near you.




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