Hiking with kids on Cape Cod can be an awesome way to get to know the island, while exploring its unique natural sights and sounds. Getting outdoors allows you time to connect as a family, while discovering the beauty of the Cape. Helping your kids to get acquainted with hiking and adventuring in nature can create a lifelong love of the outdoors. With a little planning, you can do your best to make sure everyone has fun.
Tips for hiking with kids on Cape Cod
Planning hikes with children is similar to planning hikes for yourself, just be willing to meander and explore a bit more than you might on your own. All the general hiking rules apply, dress for the weather, layer your clothing if cool out, be prepared with enough snacks and water according to the length of your hike.
Hiking with children, one of the main things to consider are that you will be moving slower, taking more breaks, and perhaps end up spending parts of your hike in ways you hadn’t expected! As the saying goes, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.”
Children are curious about animals and nature, so use this time to be on the look-out for birds’ songs, animal tracks, or other signs of the animals we share the outdoors with. Planning a scavenger hunt before you go can help little hikers stay engaged and have a purpose in searching for diverse types of moss, lichens or pine cones or whatever treasures the environment has in store.
There are plenty of hikes on Cape Cod that have interesting features that will help to keep young hikers interested, like waterfalls, boardwalks, rope swings, sandy beaches or oceanside treks. There are often guided tours given by local museums or conservation groups that will help the kids become learn about their environment. Be sure to check out our Event Guide for upcoming local hikes.
A few family friendly trails . . .
John Wing Trail
- 1.3 Miles with 78 feet of Elevation Gain
- Trail Type: Out and back at an easy difficult level
- Trail Start/End Coordinates: 41.75342, -70.11587
The John Wing Trail is a moderately trafficked option that’s part of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History trails. Passing through coastal pitch pine woodlands, salt marshes, the trail extends to Wing Island. The journey ends in a trek through a salt marsh swale that leads to beaches and tidal pools on the bay. If you want a short hike that offers a reflection of Cape Cod’s varied environments, this is a scenic, excellent choice that is suitable for all hikers and families.
Goose Pond Trail
- 1.8 Miles with 45 feet of Elevation Gain
- Trail Type: Loop at an easy difficulty level
- Trail Start/End Coordinates: 41.88242, -69.99514
The Goose Pond Trail is a moderately trafficked loop that offers an easy and relaxing hike on well-maintained pathways. You will trek through beaches, grasses, along ponds and forests, and have great opportunities to observe wildlife and birds. The trail also begins at a welcome center for those seeking information about the area. The easy difficulty level and beautiful views make this a great family hike, especially for anyone who wants to observe wildlife and birds on Cape Cod.
Great Island Trail
- 4.7 Miles with 144 Feet of Elevation Gain
- Trail Type: Loop at a Moderate Difficulty Level
- Trail Start/End Coordinates: 41.93056, -70.07138
This highly rated, moderate difficulty trail is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon with kids! With pine woods and scenic beaches, there is plenty of beautiful natural sights to take in along the way. While it is a bit long, the lack of any large elevation changes, and variable environment make it a great place for the family. There is a picnic spot by the parking area as well!
Long Point Lighthouse Trail
- 5.9 Miles with 68 feet of Elevation Gain
- Trail Type: Loop at a Moderate Difficulty Level
- Trail Start/End Coordinates: 42.03709, -70.19628
This moderately trafficked loop trail takes hikers on a trek through the sands and beaches of Cape Cod, and across a causeway on the water made of stones and boulders. This trail is recommended for older or adventurous children, but it offers one of the most scenic and aesthetic views of the Cape’s grasses, sands, and a lighthouse to explore. If you feel the need to go off the beaten bath, plenty of surrounding beach space is available to walk along. The rocky path you walk along for much of this hike will prove to be a unique and memorable experience!
Geocaching on Cape Cod
If you are looking for a way to turn your time on Cape Cod into an adventure, geocaching is a terrific way to find treasures and trails that you’d never see otherwise. Use a geocaching app or GPS to begin your adventures across Cape Cod. With options ranging from the flats and town of Brewster, to treks in the woods, dunes, and shores of the Cape. Geocaching is a fantastic way to keep kids interested in traveling through nature, giving them their own afternoon treasure hunts. There are even G.I. Joe themed geocaches to be found! If you are looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors, geocaching on your Cape Cod hikes is a great way to start.
While hiking with children in Cape Cod may initially seem a bit daunting, there are plenty of fun adventures that hikers of all ages will enjoy. With endless beauty, opportunities to have fun, and unique trails, hiking with children in Cape Cod is a spectacular activity for all families. These are only a few of the wonderful trails available, so follow your heart and explore the unique views of Cape Cod that call to you and your family!