50 Hikes with Kids in New England -- Review and Sharing a Hike


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The weather here in New England is not perfect for getting outside and certainly not for hiking without snowshoes. However, I like to think about warmer weather and weather where the ground isn't covered with snow and ice. I know it is coming! So today I am going to share a new book that shares 50 hikes around New England that are good to do with kids. The book is 50 Hikes with Kids: New England by Wendy Gorton.

From the Publisher:

Spark a love of nature!

Handcrafted for caregivers that want to spark a love of nature, 50 Hikes with Kids: New England highlights the most kid-friendly hikes in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These hikes are perfect for little legs—they are all under five miles and have an elevation gain of 900 feet of less. Every entry includes the essential details: easy-to-read, trustworthy directions; a detailed map; hike length and elevation gain; bathroom access; and where to grab a bite to eat nearby. Full-color photographs and scavenger hunts highlight the fun things to see along the trail.

From Me:

This book begins with a preface and then goes into choosing your adventure (see above). It breaks the hikes by state listing the adventure and the page it is on, nearest city, length in miles, difficulty level and elevation in feet and highlights of the hike. Each of the six states have at least six hikes. Next the hikes are divided by features like lakes, waterfalls, history, summits, rivers, campground by trailhead, and more. Next, they are divided by season with an introduction that many are good year-round, but you may need snowshoes in the winter. The next section helps you prepare for your adventure. It discusses the notations in the book about the adventures, what the level of difficulties mean, and more. Then it goes onto what you may find and then what to bring. It even talks about nature journaling with ideas on how to do it as well as digital connections. It even talks about whether kids should bring their phones or not. There is a section about respecting nature. Then there are six sections--one for each state in New England. The sections are color coded on the top of the page so if you look at the top of the book you can see where a new state begins. 

As a lifetime New Englander, I was excited to see what hikes there are listed. I was surprised by how few I actually know about or have done. I decided to focus on one of the ones I have done and thus can share photos from the adventure and personal information. 

We are going to focus on Adventure 19: Rock Out at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. In the description of "Your Adventure" Groton explains a bit of the history of the place as well as the interesting things you may see. Having taken many parent-child classes at this location, I know a bit more of the history than is shared. The land and visitor center was previously a farmhouse. Thomas Proctor inherited it from his parents. In 1902 with the help of Professor John George Jack (the first professor of dendrology at Harvard University), he planted an arboretum. He had a goal of having every type of tree that grows in North America. He also brought back specimens from the Amazon and Mexico and received some from Asia. Many of these trees are still growing on the property! He also hired Shintare Anamete (a Japanese landscape architect) to design the Rockery and a Japanese garden. (Source and for more information on the history) I remember on the hikes with the parent-child class the leader pointing out many of the different trees and telling us a bit of the history of Proctor's arboretum. 

As you can see there is a map of the hike and a description of the location. Then there is pertinent information like the length and that it is a loop, elevation, expected amount of time to hike and explore a bit, the difficulty level, the season that is best, how to get there, whether there are restrooms, how much it costs to go, and where to treat yourself or power up before or after the hike. In this case it is the Topsfield Bakeshop which Hazel and I happened to go to last week for the first time. They are known for their whoopie pies (and have the Whoo(pie) Wagon parked outside most of the time). The food is excellent based on what we tried. Finally it ends with a scavenger hunt or things to look for on your adventure. Now there is a suggestion in the preparing for the adventure that if you find other nature to take a photo or draw it in your nature journal to find out what it is later. Now we have done this hike many times when Hazel was younger. Hazel and I did the parent-child class there that always included some hike, Hazel did a week of summer camp there, and we have hiked as a family and when my nephew was visiting. I am going to share some photos with you of different places on the hike as well as some of the animals we saw/found there.

My nephew climbed to the top of the Rockery. Hazel wanted to, but I didn't want her to since she was so young. We took a picture down at the bottom.

The property has several ponds. In the ponds are turtles, frogs, baby insects and more. I love this photo of Hazel and her cousin sitting by one of the ponds.

As a result of the ponds there are several bridges to cross. And look we found the American white water lily for the scavenger hunt!

There are also wooden walkways throughout the water areas and some of the areas that are prone to mud.

Speaking of the water, be sure to look for the beavers and/or signs of them. They often build a dam in one of the waterways here. There is also a part of the hike that has deep steps built into it to help with going uphill and to keep the hill from eroding. This happens to be where we fed chickadees by hand years ago. We couldn't understand why the chickadees seemed to be following us on the entire hike until Hazel pulled out trail mix that was in her coat pockets. We fed them the trail mix and they landed on our hands. It was so fun!

There are also several meadows on the property and one you will have to walk through on the hike. 

Now on our journeys at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary we have seen many animals. We have not seen a coyote. We did however see a deer a few times. Part of the hike is on a dirt road. 

We have seen a turkey, woodpecker and many birds. By the visitor's center and classroom building there are birdfeeders that are always full of different types of birds. In the classes we took we saw frogs, turtles, baby damselflies, and even caught a dragonfly (with help from one of the groundskeepers). 

The nature center/classroom building also has some caged animals. There were tadpoles to frogs at different stages as well as turtles and more. They have some wild animals that have issues so they cannot be in the wild and keep them at the classroom or visitor's center and use them to educate in classes. 

I can see why Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is included as one of the 50 hikes. We love it there. And as you can see from our pictures it is perfect for children including young ones! You do not have to do the entire mile and a half and there are other hikes as well as areas to explore. 

Now we need some better weather to get our family out exploring more of New England. I'm excited to see that there is a hike in New Hampshire near where we are going on vacation this summer. We will have to try it! 

This book is perfect for families who live in New England as well as ones who are planning on visiting. There are hikes in all six states including places like Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod, the Berkshires, Stowe, Newport, Hartford, Litchfield, Bar Harbor, White Mountain National Forest, Lake Winnipesaukee and more. It is full of places that many people vacation and come to see when they visit New England. I hope you will check it out!