On New Year’s Day 2015 we visited the Rolling View section of Falls Lake State Park to participate in the NC State Parks First Day Hike. The First Day Hikes are organized hikes designed to encourage folks and little ones to get exercise and explore nature in the great outdoors. We decided on the Rolling View hike because there were several scheduled on the hour, leading me to believe the hike would be a short one – perfect for a restless toddler in a backpack. After a 35 minute drive northwest to the Rolling View entrance of Falls Lake in Durham, we followed the main road to the back of the park before turning left into the large parking lot. This part of the park is also where the recreational swimming area, playground, and picnic shelter 12 are located.
Once the families gathered at the trail head, the park rangers explained more about the short .75 mile hike and gave each child a scavenger hunt brochure of things to look for along the way. Ashley was a little too young for the scavenger hunt, but the older kids had a great time. They also explained the Kids in Parks Track Trail initiative that several parks are doing throughout the country as a way to encourage kids to experience the outdoors through a network of family-friendly adventures; this trail happens to be one of those adventures!
In the past our hiking experiences with our kids have mostly been self-guided with very basic objectives: 1) survive (Grandfather Mtn Profile Trail & Calloway Peak were the ultimate test), 2) limit the crying (adults included), and 3) have fun (no brainer, that’s why we do it)! With the Rolling View hike being a guided tour by a park ranger, I wasn’t sure if Ashley was too young to feel engaged, but the park rangers were amazing at interacting with all the kids. They kept the hike going while pointing out really neat nature things on/off the trail, answering questions, prompting the kids with questions, and giving some history about the park. We definitely experienced things in nature we wouldn’t have had we been on the hike by ourselves; we saw animal footprints in the puddles and streams, learned about the importance of controlled burns, discovered deer bones, gained appreciation of decaying stumps as a food source, and so much more!
After our short .75 mile hike, which took less than an hour (of which Claire screamed most the way) we headed to the nearby playground. The playground is designed for those ages 5-12 and has several climbing ladders, swings, a tire swing, and bridge. It is very close to the swimming recreation area, bathhouse, and picnic tables, making this a great spot for warmer weather. The recent rains caused the lake water levels to come very to the playground so after our short playtime we headed home for some much needed grub.
Check out the Kids in Parks Track Trail website – the search and filter features make it easy to find outdoor adventures close to home!
Thumbs up: friendly and knowledgeable park rangers, guided hike, nature experiences for kids
Thumbs down: nothing to report