Its summer hiking season and one of the best places to take your kids where they can hug a tree is the Station Creek Trail near Garden Valley.
Big, old, friendly ponderosa pines greet you all along the trail, which is conveniently located right across the Banks-Lowman Highway from the Garden Valley Ranger Station.
Families will love this trail because it winds its way along a creek bottom for about a mile and then breaks out on an open ridge where hikers can see views of the mountains around Garden Valley.
It also travels through a ponderosa pine forest, which is shady on hot summer days.
The trail goes uphill and is a good one to use to get in shape for the upcoming hiking season. Its also really nice just to smell the fresh pine trees.
Kids can have a contest trying to collect the biggest pine cones they can find.
Wildflowers might be blooming, depending on the elevation. Teach your kids not to pick them. Leave them for the next hikers to see.
Be alert. The trail is open to other users so keep an eye out. Mountain bikers and horseback riders may meet you on the trail.
The trail is two miles long but you dont have to do the whole thing.
The best thing to do with youngsters is to walk as far as their supply of Skittles lasts and then turn around.
Actually, you can do a half-mile out-and-back hike, which would be a mile and maybe just right for young trekkers.
Take along a wildlife or bird guide. Its also a good area to see deer, elk, hawks and eagles. Youll hear songbirds all along the hike. Lots of critters live in the deep woodsy area.
Here are some tips:
Trailhead elevation: About 3,228 feet; GPS 44 degrees 03.842N; 115 degrees 55.191W.
Destination elevation: 4,763 feet at Little Bald Mountain.
Note: Outhouses can be found at nearby Hot Springs Campground. It is about a mile east on the highway and a great spot for a campout or picnic.
The trail has been well-maintained and can be hiked in sneakers or trail shoes.
More on the trail can be found at the U.S. Forest Services Garden Valley Ranger Station is just across the road from the trail.
Information: Call the U.S. Forest Service in Garden Valley, 462-3241.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 from Boise to Banks. Its about 35 miles. Turn right on the Banks-Lowman Highway. Go 17 miles to the Garden Valley Ranger Station, where you will find the trail.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445