Let’s be honest. Hiking with young children is not always easy nor always enjoyable.
Many hikes end with me holding one or both boys and cheering them to finish strong as they complain that they’re tired/hungry/done. However, despite the challenges, I’ve never regretted getting outside with my kids to explore and appreciate nature.
I didn’t discover my love for hiking until my husband and I moved to El Paso and found ourselves surrounded by incredible desert mountains with trails in every direction. We continued to hike as we moved to northern Florida and visited a new nature preserve or state park every week. By this point, we had one young son and then welcomed a second son. Our hiking adapted as we grew as a family and added young children to the adventure. The hiking packing list grew to include back up clothes, diapers, wipes, snacks, sunscreen, and more snacks.
As we moved to Corpus Christi, we knew we wanted to continue our hiking hobby so I scoured the internet to find the best hikes to try with the kids. We are currently in the ideal time for hiking with young children (winter to early spring) as the weather is cooler and mosquitoes are less prevalent. In the past seven months since we moved to the Coastal Bend, we’ve found some favorite kid-friendly hikes:
- Padre Island National Seashore – Grasslands Nature Trail (.75 m/1.5 m round trip) This is a great trail to view sand dunes, grasslands, and coastal birds. The trail head is not far beyond the seashore entrance, and it is the perfect hike for little legs. Even my 19 month old walked most of the trail.
- Oso Bay Wetlands Nature Preserve and Learning Center – I consider this one my home away from home. With a wonderful playground, interactive learning center, and over two miles of kid-friendly trail options, it is my favorite option for my kids to explore. Most of my play dates, and even my son’s birthday party, are held here due to the variety of activities offered. However, I have not yet explored the longer hike/bike trail just north of the preserve entrance and can’t wait to do so.
- Indian Point/Sunset Lake – This was actually one of the first places we discovered on our first visit to Corpus. I saw a few Instagram pictures of the view and wanted to check it out. We went back last week, and it did not disappoint. We ran the trail this time and tracked 1.15 miles to the pier (2.3 miles roundtrip). We took a couple breaks to let our son out of the stroller to look for crabs and watch birds – I’m pretty sure we even saw a couple roseate spoonbills!
- South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center – Much like Oso Bay, the variety of activities makes this a wonderful option for children. You can choose from several nature trails, playground, butterfly garden, and nature center, and it is easy to fill the morning in this beautiful destination!
- Goose Island State Park – This state park is located just past Rockport and definitely worth the drive. Unfortunately when we visited, the hiking trails were still closed due to the hurricane, but they are expected to reopen around Spring Break. However, we still had plenty to explore at the Big Tree and hiking around the bayfront sites. Somehow we missed the whooping cranes in two of the ponds when we visited, but we plan to go back soon to find them!
- Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge – At only one mile in length, this trail is perfect for young children. We love to visit this trail along Oso Bay, explore and look for birds along the boardwalk, and usually spend a significant amount of time on one of the two playgrounds. I think this trail also connects to the long Texas A&M Corpus Christi trail, but I have not explored that far yet. It is on my to-do list!
- Tule Creek Hike and Bike Trail – Also located in Rockport, the Tule Creek Trail is around one mile long (two miles roundtrip) and offers fantastic views. During our first visit, we witnessed three deer run across the field and through the creek into the nearby woods, and then last week we saw a great blue heron. I won’t deny that I am becoming a nature nerd, but I love watching my boys get excited about the animals and plants we find along these trails.