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Hiking with kids near Washington D.C.

One of our Italy goals next spring is a day hike along the Amalfi coast called ‘Path of the gods’ between Positano and Praiano. It is considered one of the great (short) hikes in the world.  The trip takes anywhere from 4-7 hours depending on the precise path you take.  It offers views like the one below for most of the trail.  In parts, the path narrows to 2 feet with a 2,000 foot drop on one side. Yikes.   That scares me with kids, but mostly I’m concerned about the difficulty and length.

To prepare for that feat, I want to build (and test) our hiking legs locally.

But OMG, sorting through hiking material on the Internet is like looking for coffee mugs with Google (Yeah, I did that).  There are just too many hits.  There is no standardization of trail names and unlimited variation of route.   The volume of information, wide but not deep, is overwhelming.  But still, the best routes are known, so why are they so hard to find out?

I found these sites to be the most helpful.  Reading the comments is essential.

  • Local Hikes –  It’s not bad for a user-written site.  The naming conventions look off, compared to other sites possibly because the hikes are submitted by volunteers.  There is a best-of-DC page here.
  • – Is really well done.  I only wish they covered Maryland as well as Virginia.  An easy to sort list of hikes with rated categories is here.
  • – This is a paid site ($50/year) with a free 3-hike download.  It’s generally better information.  It appears to be reprints from readily available hiking books, which are much cheaper than the site unless you are doing hikes nationwide.
  • Mid-Atlantic Hikes –  Better for Maryland, and good detail.  Probably my favorite overall.

We really want to do Old Rag.  We may try it this weekend.  It’s about 5-6 hours, which might be too tough for our 6 and 9 year old girls.  They were getting pretty tired after the 3-hour Billy Goat Trail section A.  That is a particularly strenuous hike with all the rock scrambling, so maybe.   Emma is a big fan of Cunningham Falls state park.  She did the 1-hour Cunningham Falls loop with her Summer Camp on an overnight trip in August.  She would love to go back, but I’d like a little more difficulty.  We could do longer loops through Catoctin Park like this one and this one.

It’s hard to choose!

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