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Go Take a Hike!

By Dayle Hayes, MS, RD

Hiking can offer hours of enjoyment and a lifetime of personal fitness. A family hike can build wonderful memories and strong bodies at the same time. The key to successful hiking with kids is choosing the right trail for their abilities and interests. Montana and other states have helpful online lists of local trail systems. Look for a trail to fit your family at or Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.


  • Make a hike fit your family: When choosing a trail, carefully think about the length (shorter is better for kids) and elevation change (start flat, gradually go steeper).
  • Make a hike fun for kids: To reduce whining along the way, make a scavenger list of things to see or collect. Tell stories, sing songs, and stop to play in a stream.
  • Make a hike sun safe for everyone: Remember hats, sunglasses, and plenty of safe drinking water. Use a sunscreen of at least 30-45 SPF and reapply every 2 hours.


So many trails, so many miles of family fun! Montana has over 15,000 trail miles with something for every family to enjoy at their own pace. Here are ten great options. 

  1. Lewis and Clark Cavern Trails: 10 miles of trails, all levels, near Whitehall
  2. Swan River Natural Trail: 4-mile, easy family walk starting in Bigfork Village
  3. Lone Pine State Park: 5 miles of nature trails and a visitor center near Kalispell   
  4. Headwaters Trail System: 6 miles from Headwaters State park to Three Forks
  5. River’rsquo;s Edge Trails: 25 miles (11 are paved) around Great Falls 
  6. Heritage Trail System: Expanding network of trails in and round Billings
  7. Bozeman Trails: 45 miles of city trails, connecting to many others outside town
  8. Mt. Helena City Park: Multiple trails, many miles on Helena’rsquo;s own mountain
  9. Missoula Parks and Recreation: 22 miles, with many newly improved trails
  10. Glacier National Park: Many miles of trails for all levels and interests


Two more tips to make hiking safe and FUN: (1) Sturdy, well fitting shoes keep feet happy and injury-free. (2) Trail snacks provide fuel to keep everyone going strong.

For more fun, easy tips on healthy living, go to

Dayle HayesDayle Hayes, MS, RD
Author, Speaker, and Nutrition Therapist

Dayle Hayes is a registered dietitian committed to innovative, delicious nutrition solutions for busy families. As a consultant to Billings Clinic, she specializes in positive nutrition tips, eating disorders, and sports nutrition. Dayle graduated from U. Mass-Boston and received a Masters of Science in Community Health Education from U. Mass-Amherst.
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