Young famlies are not usually loaded with money and are seeking low cost enriching, healthy vacation options for their kids.
Hiking, camping, picnics all rolled in to one is where Maine really shines. The wildlife you see along the way coupled with the fresh air filling their lungs. And the exercise while the view gets more and more incredible the higher you hike, climb along the way.
Pack a picnic lunch, a healthy supply of trail snacks, plenty of fluids and don’t forget your camera.
No matter what age your family members, the hiking as a group is one strong bonding experience. You talk about neat things along the trail. Other times no one talks..especially on the summit. The cherry on top of the pain and strain of the climb to reach the top.
Take the beginner trail say of Horse Mountain, a 1589′ high climb near the Baxter Park entrance of Mt Katahdin. Even the smallest member with the shortest legs and walking stick can be a proud member of the hiking family.
I have carried Elliot, the youngest in places like my Dad did me up the same climb when I was his age.
But for the most part he was able to keep up. We were sensitive to making sure all the kids, the hiking party helped him keep pace.
And like down hill skiing, I only had to take his hand and help him mirror my outside turning ski for a short time. Before he was proficient and only my greater weight was the edge needed to keep his speed down. After he “learned how to fly”.
As the hiking skills increase, the length of the climb extends. Kids like a challenge and don’t like reruns. Although we did climb Haystack in Castlehill more than once. Quick, easy, ideal for spur of the moment when you ask the kids “who wants to pack a lunch, go for a hike?”
Echo Mountain at Aroostook State Park in Presque Isle Maine is another easy family climb. Challenging enough but not so long like a Mt Katahdin climb that the fun is lost because the incline is too steep, too long for the skills, attention span of a young hiker.
Mt Chase in Penobscot County is another easy hike where a picnic, a few gallons of gas, some water, trail mix gorp are packed for the adventure. Make your own energy food to nibble on and save a fortune over pre packaged, not as fresh treats for the kids working hard on the hike.
Usually a few extra hikers were along for the climb, outdoor Maine adventure too.
Fall hikes are some kind of beautiful as the leaves explode. Like a second bloom of what nature provides so well in an unspoiled, under populated state like Maine.
Often we would visit say the Patten Maine Lumbermen’s Museum after the climb on the way home. Or hit Hastings Falls in Merrill off the Clark Road. Hastings Falls is a neat rock outcropping the kids love to climb on. To drain off that excess energy.
Kids excercised, me included, act better, feel relaxed and love the challenge of a climb. Pushing themselves for something longer, steeper. Hiking also becomes a habit they stay with for life, teach their kids. My sons have spent week camping trips around Davis Pond and explored extensively areas of Baxter State Park you miss in just a day visit.
Abol Trail up Mt Katahdin is my favorite route and when you arrive at the table land, often a mist suddenly appears.
Making where you have just been disappear. There is a sermon in that. Like the reminder to rip off, or at least stop looking in your rear view mirror of life. Keep you eyes looking up, ahead on the trail God provides us all. If we pray, listen, follow directions that can be as easy as the blue painted dashes that mark the course up Mt Katahdin.
Taking the what looks overwhelming, a Mt Katahdin at Baxter Park apart a piece at a time.
I try to climb Mt Katahdin at least once a year. It is always like old home week of fond memories, spending time with an old friend. And every trip down Interstate 95 when the snow capped majestic Baxter Park crown jewel comes in to sight, I smile inside. Feel good about past climbs and get a kick in the pants to schedule the next one.
Acadia National Park is another area to turn kids loose around trails with an ocean view and the fun of visiting Sand Beach afterwards. To splash, laugh, spend time together as a family. With other down to Earth families to chit chat, enjoy, compare notes with on life. We need each other and relationships are what is the most important thing to strive for, to learn from and lean on in life.
Low cost, highly memorable Maine vacations can be as simple as whittling a walking stick.
Getting a pair of hiking boots, packing water, snacks, a lunch. Make time to hit the trails in Maine. That is where you learn answers to questions. Gather your puzzle pieces to figure out some of life’s mysteries.