I’m excited to share another guest post from Jenny of RadishBlog. Last year around this time, Jenny shared tips for Back to School Shopping: Thrifting for Kids. Since back to school is a little different this year, she’s sharing a new topic that will help families get out of the house in between all that remote learning.
Hello Again! I’m Jenny! I’m a fellow North Shore mom and blogger. I spend my days wrangling my two kiddos (ages 3.5 and 5.5) and blogging about mom life, sustainable living, thrifted/vintage fashion and cruelty-free skincare over at RadishBlog. I also spend quite a bit of time on instagram making jokes about the mundane joys that motherhood brings and sharing my favorite products, tips, tricks and local activities that we get up to. My handle over there is JennyRadish.
Like most of us, I’ve been spending a lot more time with my kids over the last six months. Like a lot. At the beginning of the pandemic, I took the advice of my son’s nature preschool and took my kids outside as much as possible. We hiked almost every day until the weather got too hot. With summer winding down, I am planning to get out for our hikes daily again. And I thought it would be helpful to share some of our favorite North Shore spots with other North Shore moms who might also be reluctantly homeschooling, as I like to call it.
Before I get started, I wrote a whole post over on my own blog with all of my tips and tricks for hiking with toddlers and children. In Tips and Essentials for Hiking with Toddlers, I share not only essential gear but some fun ideas and activities to get creative and stretch out your time in the woods. Some of these are especially helpful if you have little ones who get tired or “tired” legs.
And a quick disclaimer: as we’ve learned lately, things change in a second, so I am sharing each trail’s current policies, parking fees and features at the time of writing this, but please make sure to check their websites (which I will link) ahead of time for any changes!
Onto the list, in no particular order:
Maudslay State Park – A beautiful state park in Newburyport with wide, smooth trails that are perfect for little legs. Parking is $5 a day for Massachusetts residents and $20 for non residents. Maudlsay features 19th century gardens, rolling meadows, mature trees, ponds and stone bridges. The meadows are great for fairy house making!
Manchester Essex Conservation Trail – This is one of our favorites. It’s on a beautiful pond and there is a nice easy loop of a trail that is perfect for little hikers. There is also a nice boardwalk over the river with lots of turtles, frogs and even beavers to look out for. Although, we don’t often get to see creatures because my daughter is usually singing so loud that they hop in the water or fly away when they hear us coming!
Dow Brook Conservation Area – This Ipwich gem is another great one. It’s a longer trail, so I usually check my phone and we turn around once we’ve been walking for a mile or so since that tends to be the sweet spot for my kids. Dow Brook has a few little bridges, a hut made of sticks and trail markers that explain which kind of animals to look for. It’s also right next to White Farms, so we always grab an ice cream before we head home! (It’s cash only!)
Long Hill – One of our favorites, Long Hill is maintained by the Trustees and full of beautiful gardens on the grounds of the former home of Ellery Sedgewick, a horticulturist and rare plant specialist. It’s a great place for little ones to run around, explore and pretend.
Rough Meadows – This Audobon property is less traveled than the more popular Ipswich WIldlife Sanctuary. It’s important to go at low tide if you want to explore the full trail as part of it gets submerged at high tide. There is an observation area on the salt marsh as well as a little island to explore.
JC Phillips – This Beverly property has nice flat trails and a loop trail that is perfect for kids. It’s on Wenham lake, so you can look for frogs and turtles. It also has the ruins of the old estate that was on the property.
Sally MIlligan Park – A great little hike with limited parking, Sally Milligan Park is an easy loop with some small hills along the trail. There are lots of areas with large rock formations to stop and explore.
Castle Hill – Another Trustees location that is beautiful to explore. Full of gardens and terraces surrounding a beautiful old castle, it’s the perfect place for little ones to run around. The rolling hills down to the water are breathtaking and will help get all that energy out, too! It is $5 for members to park and $20 for nonmembers, but I believe there is no fee during the off season.
These are just a few of our favorites. We are so lucky to live in an area with so many trails and beautiful places to explore. Do you have a favorite? Or one that I didn’t mention, please tell me! I am always looking for new places to bring my kids.