Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three kid-friendly hikes in Maryland to explore with babies and young children.
Lake Roland: Boardwalk, Paved Loop & Red Trail (Baltimore, M.D.)
Lake Roland features flat and wide trails for families with kids who are still sitting in strollers. It’s a fairly easy trail to explore with young kids. The Red Trail, which is the main trail, is 2 miles. Red Trail leads you to Lake Roland and to the Paved Loop (.5 miles) and the Boardwalk (.3 miles). Once you reach the back of the loop, walk down the wide steps across a light rail crossing the Red Trail. Walk along the backside of Lake Roland as well as an old rail pathway and you’ll enjoy the variety of art inspirations created with natural objects. Continue on the Red Trail and you’ll cross over the Jones Falls, where there’s a 10-foot rock ready for kids to climb and conquer.
- If your kids get tired from the hike, take a break and enjoy the views of Lake Roland, play fairy garden or play at the Acorn Hill Playground before heading back. The playground is located at the end of Red Trail where the Paved Loop is located.
- Take some time away from your hike and let your kids explore the nature center at the Paved Loop and Boardwalk.
- Starting at the light rail station, this trail is accessible from all Baltimore points via car or train.
- Depending on the season, you’ll spot a variety of wildflowers along the trail. If you detour off the green, orange or yellow trails, you will get views of the Serpentine Forest.
Depending on the weather, you can choose to head up to the playground (complete with “climbing vines,” a play train, logs, mining store, ticket booth, mud kitchen and swings … and picnic tables for snacks), walk the paved loop or stop by the new nature center, which has reptiles and animals, a craft station and a train play table. Either way, you’re bound to run the littles, get some fresh air and have a wonderful day! There is a fun rock outcropping and, of course, a bridge they’ll want to toss a leaf off of. The other really cool feature of the Red Trail is the art walk. Each year new artwork is added and you never know how amazing or out there it will be. –Shannon McDonald
Marshy Point: Katie & Wil’s Trail (Baltimore, M.D.)
If you are looking for a place for reflection to feel good about life, Marshy Point embodies that. Katie & Wil’s Trail was built in memory of a mother and son, Katie and Wil Brady, who passed away in a tragic collison. So when hiking this trail, remember its purpose and reflect on the love of your family and children.
Marshy Point features a self-guided nature trail and a butterfly garden, and Katie and Wil’s Trail is roughly 1.25 miles round trip and makes for an easy hike for your kids. The trail is paved and flat, which is great for strollers. It starts at the Nature Center and winds through the coast plain forest and adjacent wetlands. This trail is blazed orange and provides awesome views from an observation point and bridge. The Minnow Branch Creek provides an opportunity for your kids to observe wetland animals, amphibians and fish during tidal movement. You can read more about the trail in our Family Trail Guide.
- When you’re hiking with the kids in winter, wear waterproof boots, hats and gloves.
- Some of the trails during winter are passable during winter months.
- During the early spring months, flooding may be an issue in some areas of the trail.
- Check the Nature Center to see the status of trails before you hit the trail.
Baltimore County Park Marshy Point has a variety of flat (if not submerged) trails for even the littlest of legs. One of our family’s favorite trails are combining the Katie and Wil’s (K&T) Trail and Vernal Pond Eastern loop. K&T is a paved and bridged trail accessible for all. We love to collect the “monkey balls” from the Sweetgum trees and toss them in the Minnow Branch Creek; even the most reluctant toddler is eager to participate in this activity. Once over the bridge, the sometimes muddy trail typically has a fallen tree to inspect or crawl over. Zigzagging ’til you reach the raised plank boardwalk, the tired little legs can’t resist either running or balancing along the path where you pop out to the group camping site to stop and snack while sitting around log seating. –Shannon McDonad
Southside ACLT Ridge Loop (Port Republic, M.D.)
Southside ACLT Ridge Loop is roughly 1.35 miles roundtrip. The trail is leveled and perfect for families and little ones. Along the trail, there are trees and plants native to the area marked with their names and descriptions. Make this a fun and educational hike for the kids by letting them discover the native trees and plants throughout the trail.
There is a “pack in, pack out” policy that helps reduce litter in the natural environment. This initiative is to preserve and protect the environment, making it more enjoyable for families and their little ones to explore.
Stay on trail at all times. Don’t collect or remove anything from the trails (including artifacts, wood, plants, etc.). Although your little ones may want to pick up something along the way to keep as a souvenir, talk to your little ones about the importance of leaving no trace. It’s to preserve the natural environment around them.
- Printed maps are available at each trailhead.
- There are three trailheads: North Side, PF2Bay and South Side. Before hitting the trails with your kids, make sure you sign in on the provided sign-up sheet located at each trailhead.
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
If you’re traveling through Maryland and need more information or recommendations on trails or would like to join a group hike, the nearest Hike it Baby branches are in Annapolis and Baltimore.
- 3 Great Trails for Young Kids in Pennsylvania
- 3 Scenic Hikes in Delaware to Explore with Young Children
- 3 Great Hikes in New Jersey for Young Children
Trail reviews and photos by Shannon McDonald and Samantha Williams.