Recently updated on June 14th, 2023

A father and daughter walk down a dirt trail next to a small creek.

As warmer weather approaches, we’re all looking to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air. What better way to get the kids (and yourself) unplugged from technology than a family-friendly hike through nature? 

We’ve chosen one spot from nine different states in the Northeast that we think is perfect for a hike – even for the littlest family members. Some have amenities like picnic areas and museums, a few are accessible with outdoor wheelchairs and strollers, and one walk goes right through some ruins of an abandoned castle! 

Of course, before your beautiful stroll through nature, make sure you stop by your local Ocean State Job Lot for supplies! You might be surprised to learn that we have almost everything you need to make your family-friendly hike comfortable, safe, and fun! 

You’ll love our selection of car-ride supplies like wet wipes, snacks, puzzle books, and activities for the kids. For your hike, pick up a pair of binoculars and bring along some lightweight camp chairs, water shoes, and a cooler for a quick picnic! We’ve even got compression sleeves, insoles, and comfy hiking socks for those of us who haven’t been hiking in a while. 

Don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellent, lip balm, and first aid supplies like antibiotic ointment and bandages, just in case. Keep everything in one of our spacious totes, and you’ll always be ready for an impromptu road trip! 

Located in Middletown, RI, at the tip of the Sakonnet River is a well-secluded wildlife refuge that lets your family reconnect with nature. There are nearly three miles of trails and 40 acres of salt marsh. Children will love trying to spot one of the more than 200 bird species that visit each season! You’ll find informational kiosks, interpretive panels, and viewing platforms along the trails.

  • Cost: Free
  • Dogs Allowed: No; not permitted
  • Distance: Eight trails vary from 0.1 miles to 1.39 miles
  • Trails Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
  • Park Amenities: Visitor’s Center (open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily)
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Middletown, RI
A well-worn dirt path leading to the water is cut through overgrown vines and shrubs.

Walden Pond – Concord, MA

Walden Pond is where author Henry David Thoreau famously went into the woods to experience nature for two years, two months, and two days (probably not a coincidence). Now you can walk around the 64.5-acre pond, explore a replica of Thoreau’s cabin, hike around the trails at Walden Woods, and explore the actual site of Thoreau’s cabin. The original was dismantled for scrap lumber shortly after Thoreau left the woods. This New England Today Travel article has amazing pictures and describes Walden Pond in such rich detail that you’ll hop in the car the second you scroll to the bottom of the page. Fun fact: Many people don’t know that the land was actually owned by another famous author of the time, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  • Cost: Parking is $8 for MA residents and $30 for Non-residents
  • Dogs Allowed: No; no pets permitted
  • Distance: Varies
  • Park open: Year-round, 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. daily
  • Park Amenities: Visitor’s Center (10 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily), picnic areas, restrooms, Four electric vehicle charging stations
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Bedford, MA
An old wooden shed sits in the middle of a forest.

With over 40 miles of trails ranging from 0.3 miles to three miles and difficulties from easy looping paths to moderate hikes, families of all ages and abilities will feel welcome at the White Memorial Conservation Center. While you’re there, check out the Nature Museum. Admission to the museum ranges from free for members and children under six to $3 for older children and $6 for adults, but it’s well worth it. 

  • Cost: Free to access trails 
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes; must be leashed at all times
  • Distance: Varies by trail (0.3 miles – three miles)
  • Trails open: Year-round, 24 hours/day
  •  Park Amenities: Restrooms inside Museum (there is a fee for non-members), outhouses along the trails, picnic areas, camping facilities 
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Litchfield, CT
An elevated wooden boardwalk winds through the woods.

As part of the Western Foothills Land Trust, Shepard’s Farm Family Preserve is a 20-acre former dairy farm donated to The Trust by the Detert Family in 2010. There are central trails open for hiking and mountain biking and outer trails just for hiking. Children will love walking along the elevated boardwalk along the swampy parts!

  • Cost: Free
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes; leashes recommended
  • Distance: Varies 0.5 miles – four-miles
  • Trail open: Year-round 
  • Park Amenities: Portable toilets, an ADA-accessible trail
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Oxford, ME
a sign in a wooded area reading "Shepards Farm Family Preserve"

Mount Major – Alton, NH

If you want to spend a half-day exploring your way to gorgeous sweeping views of Lake Winnipesaukee, then Mount Major is perfect! We recommend visiting in the summer or fall because it can get slippery during the winter months. The reviews at the bottom of the AllTrails will give you an excellent idea of the conditions year-round. The Main and Boulder loop is a 2.9-mile loop that’s not too challenging for small kids. Visit the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests’ website for details and parking information. 

  • Cost: Free
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes; leash required in some areas
  • Distance: Varies 2.7 miles – 7.4 miles
  • Trail open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset daily
  • Park Amenities: Portable toilets (May – October)
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Ossipee, NH
View from a rocky cliff looking out over Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Mount Independence – Orwell, VT

There are over six miles of trails through archeological remains of the Revolutionary War, leading to amazing views of Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga. Stop on trails to see interpretive signs and other artifacts. We love this site because the Baldwin Trail on Mount Independence is a 1.6-mile ADA-compliant loop for all accessibility levels. It can accommodate outdoor wheelchairs and strollers, making it perfect for all ages and abilities. 

  • Cost: Adults: $8 Children 6-14: $1 Children under 6: Free
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes; but not in public buildings
  • Distance: 1.6-mile loop
  • Trail open: May 26 – October 15, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily
  • Park Amenities: Gift shop, museum, picnic area, restrooms
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Rutland, VT
Aerial view of tree tops changing color in the fall.

Harriman State Park – Ramapo, NY

Harriman State Park is the second-largest park in the New York park system and boasts 200 miles of hiking trails. There are so many trails to choose from that AllTrails put together a list of the best kid-friendly hikes in Harriman State Park. Harriman State Park is huge, and many (if not most) trails have no bathroom access. But there are a few park offices with facilities scattered throughout, so if that may be an issue, we suggest planning your route around these amenities. 

  • Cost: Free, though some parking lots charge a small fee
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes; must be on a leash no longer than six feet
  • Distance: Varies depending on trails
  • Trail open: Year-round, from dawn to dusk 
  • Park Amenities: Visitor’s center, gift shop, restrooms 
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Nanuet, NY
A small dock sits on a cam lake surrounded by forest.

Wissahickon Valley Park – Philadelphia, PA

Wissahickon Valley Park is just north of downtown Philadelphia, a serene and immersive spot with over 1,800 acres and 50 miles of trails. Forbidden Drive might sound intimidating, but it’s actually an easy-to-walk 5.35-mile gravel path that winds along the shore of Wissahickon Creek. For shorter walks, check out the Andorra Meadow Loop and the Lincoln Drive Trail. 

  • Cost: Free, but memberships and donations keep this nonprofit park open. They receive no direct funding from the city or Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes; must be leashed at all times 
  • Trails open: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. December 1 to March 31. 6 a.m. – 1 a.m. April 1 to November 30 
  • Park Amenities: Restrooms, Picnic areas, and more! This interactive map shows trails, parking, picnic spots, and restroom locations. 
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Montgomeryville, PA
A couple walks alongside the Wissahickon Creek in the fall.

Who doesn’t love a walk in the woods to see the ruins of an old mansion? Children and adults will love the peaceful (and slightly challenging) walk to Van Slyke Castle – or what remains of it. Located in Ramapo State Forest, Van Slyke Castle, originally known as Foxcroft, was built in the early 1900s by stockbroker William Porter. By the 1950s, the mansion had changed ownership a few times, was abandoned, and burned by vandals. This is a fairly challenging route, so we recommend bringing older kids or children used to hiking up rocky and uneven terrain. During your hike, you’ll see ruins of the main home, a water tower, and the old swimming pool. There are several trails around the area, so you’ll want to come back and visit often – though we won’t blame you if you keep coming back to check out the ruins of Van Slyke Castle! 

  • Cost: Free
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes; must be on a leash no longer than six feet
  • Distance: 2.6 to ruins and back – 3.9 miles full Castle Loop
  • Trail open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset
  • Park Amenities: None
  • Nearest Ocean State Job Lot store: Sparta, NJ
View of Van Slyke Castle ruins.

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