Every year on the first Saturday of June, thousands of people across the United States celebrate National Trails Day, an annual event organized by the American Hiking Society. This is a day for folks to hike on the over 200,000 miles of trails in the U.S., and show gratitude to the amazing volunteers who help build and keep our trail system operating.
As Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassadors, we ran a kid-friendly hike sponsored by Tubbs, who kindly provided awesome swag bags and goodies for everyone involved. We invited friends, family, neighbors, and our larger community. In total, we had nine adults and thirteen kiddos hiking with us at Ward Reservation in Andover, MA.
We picked Ward Reservation because it is very kid-friendly, and now that the twins are hiking on their own two feet, we wanted a place they could explore. After meeting in the parking lot and doing introductions, our group headed toward the boardwalk atop the quaking bog. (I know – I had to look it up too. A quaking bog has concentric rings of floating vegetation. In other words – it’s really cool and full of plants, frogs and dragonflies!)
At the end of the boardwalk is Pine Hole Pond – a beautiful expanse of water. We spotted our first frog of the day at the edge of the pond.
Because the boardwalk hike was relatively short, and the kids were still full of energy, we decided to head up Holt Hill. After climbing a gigantic set of stairs to get to the trails, we headed right onto the Red Trail and crossed through a beautiful meadow filled with tall grasses and wildflowers. The older kids hiked ahead while we corralled the toddlers. At one point, my friend Anne had the older kids doing a science experiment while they waited for all of us to catch up.
As I bribed the twins up a small hill with gummies, the older kids found a second frog! Actually, I am pretty sure it was a toad. They were so excited to show everyone their discovery.
A little further up the trail, we rounded the top of Holt Hill and came upon the Solstice Stones, which represent the points of the compass, solstices, and equinoxes. They also mark the summit of Holt Hill, which at 420 feet is the highest point in Essex County, Massachusetts. As the adults checked out the view of Boston to the south, the kids piled onto the Solstice Stones to eat snacks. We lucked out – though the sky was cloudy at the start of the hike, it turned out to be a beautiful day!
When they’d had their fill of food, the older kids headed to the nearby trees and started climbing!
We took the easy way down, briefly hiking on the Bay Circuit Trail and then the paved road that leads to the summit.
The trails were marked with blazes, but so many of the trails cross over each other, or run together, that I imagine it would be easy to become disoriented on a longer hike. It’s best to have a trail map with you, which you can pick up at the parking lot, or you can download a copy of the Ward Reservation Trail Map.
It was a fantastic day for celebrating our national trails! Who else hit the trailhead on Saturday?
Directions to the trailhead:
From I-93: Exit 41, take Rt. 125 North 5 mi. Turn right onto Prospect Rd. and follow for 0.3 mi. to entrance and parking (15 cars) on right.
From Rt. I-495: Exit 42, take Rt. 114 East 1.7 mi. Turn right onto Rt. 125 South and follow for 1.6 mi. Turn left onto Prospect Rd. Continue as above.