Our family is pretty close. We spend time around the table together, we drink lots of coffee together, and we spend hours in conversation together. Though myself and both of my sisters are married, we spend many hours together each week.
With the beauty of fall beginning to peek out this month, we decided to adventure together this past weekend. All of our husbands were busy so my mom, myself, my two sisters, my niece (1 ½ years old), and two nephews (7 weeks old and 2 ½ years old) took to the woods of Wisconsin.
On Friday, some of us went to Hartman Creek State Park. This place is absolutely beautiful and is great for the kids. There are several lakes to hike around and you can choose to take the short route that hugs the lake tightly, or adventure further out into the woods. The kids were enthralled with all of the trees swaying in the wind and we even found mushrooms on which my niece was completely fixated (“baby mushroom! Biiiiig mushroom! Mushroom! Mushroom! Mushroom!”). We spent a very full afternoon at Hartman Creek and made our way around two of the lakes (Allen Lake and Hartman Lake). Hartman Lake’s trail closely hugged the lake and the kids spent many moments marveling at all of it. At one point, the trail crosses right between two lakes and my nephew was enthralled that water from one lake was going into the other. It was a day of discovery! The only regret was that we should have brought along a baby carrier. Though they both are plenty old to walk the whole way, my niece (1 ½ ) wanted to be carried quite a bit and it would have been much simpler with a carrier. There is also a playground by Hartman Lake so the kids had time to play. My biggest lesson from that day: let the kids explore. Don’t give kids that young an agenda. Though it felt like we were moving at a snail’s pace (we were, because an elderly lady lapped us around the lake), the kids needed to be able to discover new aspects of nature they may not have in their own backyard.
Saturday came and we decided to drive a couple hours to Door County. We spent a piece of the afternoon at Peninsula State Park. We found a kid-friendly trail called “Trampers’ Delight Trail” and it was perfect. We wound our way through the woods and the kids were able to walk the whole way (though again my niece likes to be carried). This trail is pretty simple and I was able to wear my Birkenstock sandals the entire way. On Friday I wore my Merrell hiking boots for the first time and they do not have enough arch support for me so I spent the evening with sore feet. I chose my Birkenstocks for the following day because I knew it would be light hiking and my Birkenstocks provide me with great support. However, I do love Merrell shoes as I have another pair of everyday-style shoes that I wear that are Merrell brand. As we came to the end of the trail my older nephew kept saying (while pointing back), “I NEED to go that way! More trail please, more trails!” Needless to say, he is now hooked.
Both of these hikes were great for kids. I know that Hartman Creek (Waupaca, WI) has longer trails but I know they all remain at a pretty low difficulty. Peninsula State Park (Fish Creek, WI) is incredibly large and has many trails with varying difficulty. One of my favorites is Eagle Trail that follows the bay and provides some pretty cool cliffs and caves.
I’m looking forward to many more adventures with the kids as well as just exploring with my husband (and our dog of course!). Though winter is coming (don’t remind me…), I expect we will continue exploring and discovering as usual!