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Tackling Activity Age Barriers

As a mom of three - with ages varying from 4 to 13 - I will admit it is sometimes challenging to find an activity that they will all enjoy. From choosing a movie to watch, to determining what activities we can all do together to occupy a lazy Sunday afternoon, the differing interests from toddler to teen, and from boy to girl, can be puzzling (to say the least). But I have found one activity that seems to shatter this activity age barrier: hiking.

Regardless of age, we all seem to enjoy a family hike up some of the local peaks. Luckily for us, Tupper Lake is in a awesome location for family-friendly hiking. Within a few short miles in every direction of the village, you will find a great "short" mountain peak that the little legs in your hiking party can tackle, while the views and adventure are still rewarding for the older crowd.

Tupper's Kid-Approved Hiking Hat Trick:

Three fun peaks, three spectacular views, and three opportunities to connect with your kiddos on the trails!

Author's Note: Over time our family has chosen these three peaks as our "must do" hikes every summer and fall. The little ones like them because they are a mile or less from trailhead to summit, which is the perfect distance for little legs (and attention spans).

Panther Mountain

Our family's half way trail marker... the hollowed our tree that is calling their name to stand inside.
Our family's half way trail marker... the hollowed our tree that is calling their name to stand inside.

Let's start by heading east to Panther Mountain. At only .6 miles from trailhead to peak, Panther Mountain is a great warm up mountain and rewards a view that is a real bang for your buck! This short climb begins with an immediate accent though giant towering pine trees. It then transitions into more densely wooded forest until you reach open peak that offers up stellar views of Panther Pond, the Seward Mountain Range, as well other surrounding waterways and wild forest.  

Points of interest the kids gravitate towards: 

  • The hollowed out tree at the approximate halfway mark.
  • The view of Panther Pond which they previously had the chance to see at eye level when they were walking from the parking area to the trail head.
  • If the time of year is right, enjoying some wild blueberries at the peak! 

Coney Mountain

Even four-legged friends enjoy a snack and the view at the top of Coney Mountain
Even four-legged friends enjoy a snack and the view at the top of Coney Mountain

Next up: head south to Coney Mountain.

After a warm-up climb on Panther, next time out the kids are usually ready for a longer hike. The next peak we usually like to do is Coney Mountain. At 1.1 miles in length (one way) Coney is the perfect length for the little legs to not get too tired out. While the trail is a little longer than Panther, the hiking grade is not as steep so the transition between the two is pretty seamless.

Points of interest the kids gravitate towards: 

  • The 360-degree views from the top offers a picture that is guaranteed to wow the whole family.
  • Large bald peak that offers room for exploring.
  • Scavenger hunt for the cross that is on the northeastern facing side of the mountain.

Mt. Arab 

Following the interpretive guide up Mount Arab
Following the interpretive guide up Mount Arab

Last, but definitely not least, there is Mt. Arab to the west. Mount Arab is the one I usually like to save for last of the three peaks in our hiking network. The reason: the fire tower. There is something about kids and fire towers that once they discover them, they hope to find one on every trail they go on. At 1 mile, this mountain trail is also another nice climb for those of all ages and hiking abilities. When you reach the top you are greeted with a cool network of trails and overlooks, as well as the restored fire tower and ranger cabin.

Points of interest the kids gravitate toward: 

  • Climbing the fire tower — On weekends (as well as some additional weekdays in the summer months) the Friends of Mount Arab have a Steward at the top of the mountain who provides the kids with a certificate for hiking the fire tower. 
  • The Ranger Cabin / Museum — The Friends of Mount Arab have also restored the Ranger Cabin at the peak of Mount Arab. Inside the cabin, you will find a wealth of historic information on the mountain and Adirondack Fire Towers. At every age, I have noticed the kids will take away a different piece of information that they learn in the little museum at this peak.  
  • The Interpretive Hiking Trail Guide — When you sign in at the trailhead you can pick up an interpretive guide with numbers in it. As you hike, it encourages the kids to stay on the lookout for these numbers and then the guide provides information about the corresponding plants and animals you are looking at. 

Go For The Triad

Looking for a challenge? Add Goodman Mountain to your travels.

Goodman along with Coney and Arab mountains make up the Tupper Lake Triad - complete all three to receive a commemorative patch. Goodman Mountain is 1.7 miles one way, and starts out on an old road before turning into a new trail built to make the hike more accessible and achievable for just about any hiker in your group. At the top you will see beautiful views of Coney Mountain and Tupper Lake. 

Start hiking with your kids...

Taking a water break along the trail.
Taking a water break along the trail.

If you and your family have never had the opportunity to hike together, I encourage you to start. It doesn't have to be these three peaks, the Adirondacks have so many great trails ready for different hiking abilities (these are just our family's kid-approved peaks). But wherever you decide to enter the woods, you will find that there is something refreshing and rewarding about being alone with your family on the trails. You are away from the everyday distractions — cartoons are not playing in the background (getting theme songs stuck in your head), electronic devises are no longer diverting attention, and arguments over who took what from whom seem to disappear. That chaos is replaced with the opportunity to hike & learn together while creating great memories... heck, it's even a good chance to capture (or stage) a stellar holiday photo image — you know, for that memorable card that will make the neighbors envious of all the fun you had just a few short months ago.