5 Easy Hikes for Kids in Maui

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Hawaii is, without a doubt, an expensive place to take your family. Most popular activities will hit your wallet hard, so it’s good to have a few freebies lined up on your itinerary. Taking a hike is almost always going to cost you absolutely nothing, and it might just be the most memorable thing you do during your trip.

Picking the right trails to explore is key to an enjoyable experience. Whether you have toddlers or teenagers, you will want to limit your hiking to half a day or less to avoid tantrums and breakdowns (anything over 5 miles is probably too much). On our recent family vacation to Maui, we took five easy, kid-friendly hikes that gave us a taste of the islands without making anyone feel too tired. Consider one of these hikes if you plan a vacation to Maui.

1. Kapalua Coastal Trail
This is a 2-mile walk from Kapalua Beach to D.T. Fleming Beach. The highlight here, besides the stunning beaches and wild rocky coastline, is the Dragon’s Teeth area, a unique lava formation that juts out into the water and really does resemble a giant set of dragon’s teeth. Kids could spend an hour alone at this one spot, scrambling over the rocks, watching for sea turtles in the water below, and letting their imaginations run wild. The trail is accessible from several places, but we recommend parking near the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, exploring the Dragon’s Teeth, then heading west toward Kapalua Beach.

2. Iao Valley State Park
This lush, tropical area is home to the famous Iao Needle and was the site of an important battle during King Kamehameha’s unification of the island in the late 18th century. The history and natural beauty make it a great place to hike and learn. Several short trails are available, including a paved path to an outlook, as well as a garden trail that leads you through thick vegetation. It’s nothing more than half a mile. There are picnic tables and restrooms in the park, so take your time and admire the scenery.

3. Twin Falls
These are the first waterfalls you’ll see on the famed Road To Hana, in Ho’olawa Valley on the north shore of the island. Bring your swimsuits and water shoes, because you and the kids will want to take a little dip in the pools at the base of each falls. The first is a 10-minute walk, and the second is another 15 minutes beyond. It’s a little slippery in places, but worth the effort. There are porta potties and a snack stand back at the parking area.

4. Pipiwai Trail
This is the most challenging hike on my list. At 4 miles, it’s also the longest. The reason I found it so challenging is not the trail itself, but the fact that you must drive the entire Road To Hana to get to it. If you can manage that drive, the trail is worth the effort. The first 2 miles are uphill, but kids will love the surprises they find along the way. Highlights include a massive banyan tree, Pipiwai stream, Makahiku Falls, several wooden bridges, a breathtaking bamboo forest and, at the end of the trail, the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. There is so much to see along the trail, you barely even notice you’re hiking. The way back to the parking lot is just as stunning, and all downhill. If your kids can manage a longer hike, this is the one they’ll remember the most.

5. Ka’anapali Beach
This particular hike isn’t really a trail, but it might just be our favorite non-trail trail in Maui. Ka’anapali Beach has been called one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and after visiting it, we know why. The entire beach is about 3 miles long, but we recommend walking the lower mile from the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa north to Black Rock at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa. Park your car at the Hyatt, stroll out to the beach, take your shoes off, and leisurely walk north along the powder-like sand. Just this one mile might take you several hours, because the kids will find so much to see and do along the way. It’s a great place to watch surfers, swimmers, boats, parasailers, snorkelers, and even the occasional drone buzzing through the air. Off in the distance, you can see the islands of Lanai and Moloka’i. If you’re there in early spring, it’s a prime spot to view humpback whales. Once you reach the Black Rock area, you can rinse the sand off your feet, put your shoes back on, and walk back on the boardwalk, where you can gawk at the resort and condo complexes. Stop in at Whaler’s Village for a bite to eat, or some shopping. Ka’anapali Beach is, by far, the most beautiful beach my family has ever had the pleasure to walk on.

The Walking Dads

Hadrian's Wall

“Bloody hell!”

That’s what my British friend exclaimed after I informed him of my plan to walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path for a third time this summer.

He thought I was insane, to once again take on the 84 mile trail in the north of England, to suffer the blisters and twisted ankles, the rain and rough terrain, the sleepless nights in barns and hostels.

Yes, I would have to be a little crazy do it a third time.

Or, maybe, I would have a very, very good reason.

And that’s exactly what I have. A very good reason to pull on my boots, fly across the Atlantic, travel to the wilds of Northumberland, and walk in the footsteps of Roman Centurions as I did the first time in 2010, and again in 2014 with my son’s Boy Scout troop.

The reason this time is Oren Miller.

2631607_55e4b2017c72bOren was a dad blogger, but he is most remembered for establishing and maintaining the largest community of dad bloggers in the world, via Facebook. His efforts to bring together writers of all kinds who want to be a voice in support of modern fatherhood has paid off with a cohesive group of dads who support each other and support changes in how dads are viewed and treated.

Oren passed away in 2015 after a long battle with cancer. Since then, Oren has been honored for not only the work he did to support dad bloggers, but also for the beautiful and poignant words he wrote for his children during the time that he fought for his life.

And now, one more well-deserved honor for Oren.

Camp Kesem, the only national organization that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer, will be opening a new chapter of their summer camp at the University of Maryland in Oren’s name. It will join 80 other locations around the country which provide a free camping experience to over 6,000 children touched by a parent’s cancer. These week-long camps are run by passionate college student leaders and gives kids a peer-support network that understands their unique needs, builds confidence and strengthens their communication skills.

It’s an amazing organization, doing real good for children affected by a parent’s cancer. And all completely funded by generous donations from individuals and corporate support.

So, what does this have to do with my long walk?

12 well-known dad bloggers, writers and influencers, including myself, have taken on the challenge of walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path this July to call attention to and raise funds for Camp Kesem. All of the money that our group raises during this effort will go directly to launch the new Camp Kesem chapter at the University of Maryland, which happens to be the alma mater of Oren Miller and his wife, Beth.

It won’t just be a dozen dads hiking that trail. As one of the group, Brent Almond, recently commented, “This is a community effort – backed by so many members of the mom and dad blogging community. There may be 12 of us going on the walk. But there are literally thousands of us committed to the journey.”

Please be a part of this journey by visiting our Camp Kesem fundraising page, and making a donation. Or by helping us publicize the page. Or simply follow along as a bunch of dads take a very long walk for an amazing cause. Over the next four months, I will have much to discuss as we make preparations for the trip.

Again, our website and fundraising page is www.Dads4Kesem.org

Family Vacation to Mt. St. Helens Volcano Monument

Mt St Helens

I will never forget that day in 1980 when a mountain in Southwestern Washington suddenly exploded with the force of several nuclear bombs. The deadliest volcanic event in U.S. history laid waste to hundreds of square miles around Mt. St. Helens.

It sounds like an unlikely destination for a family vacation. But, in fact, the Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Monument in Washington is an amazing place to spend a day with kids. From areas of utter devastation to hidden hollows teeming with new life, a trip to Mt. St. Helens will be both fascinating and educational.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog.

Family Vacation to Spokane

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When you tell people you’re visiting Washington State, they usually conjure up images of majestic mountains, rugged coastlines, or the urban beauty of Seattle. Most people forget there’s an entire eastern half of the state that has a number of cool and unique places to visit.

On the far eastern edge of Washington is the city of Spokane, which is well worth exploring for a few days if you find yourself traveling on Interstate 90, and especially if you have kids, because Spokane (the “e” is silent, by the way) is a very kid-friendly town.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog.

Heat and Kindness

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Everybody told me I would die out there.

A horrible, painful, melting death.

We here in North Idaho are not accustomed to day after day of 100+ degree temperatures, especially in June, when a freak snow flurry wouldn’t surprise most people.

There was no denying that it was unusually, blisteringly hot. But my family didn’t let the fear of spontaneous combustion stop us from going outside, because we had a promise to keep.

And miles to go to keep that promise. Continue reading

Learning To Walk

At my age, I never thought I’d have to learn to walk.

Thankfully, it’s not because of disease or injury. No, I’m learning how to walk long distance.

It’s not as simple as you’d think.

A year ago, I agreed to walk across England for charity. That’s 84 miles in 6 days. Averaging 15 miles per day.

This is something I’d never done before. So I had to learn to walk.

The very first thing I did was to buy a pair of decent light hiking boots. Because you need solid ankle support and a heavy-duty sole.

At our local outdoors store, a salesman showed me a few brands of boots and eventually sold me on a pair of Asolo GTX Flames.

They felt good and snug. “And those are the very boots I own!” the salesman told me.

Next, it was time to buy socks, because you can’t just go walking in any old pair of cotton socks. No, you need to consider the type of trip you have planned, and the kind of terrain you’ll be walking on.

There are mountaineering socks, midweight socks, and lightweight socks. Made out of wool, cotton, silk, and synthetic materials. There’s Coolmax, SmartWool, and Hollofil. You also need a pair of sock liners to help prevent blisters. It’s enough to drive you crazy.

Again, I relied upon the smooth-talking salesman at the outdoors store to outfit me right.

Soon, I was heading down the trail in a pair of Thorlo Coolmax Light Hiker Crew Socks over a pair of Fox River X-Static Polypropylene Liners.

I didn’t walk very far at first. A mile here, a mile there. This was the breaking-in period for my boots. Very important, I was told, to acclimate my feet to their new home.

I didn’t like that breaking-in period very much. Because my feet hurt. I mean, really hurt.

It was like someone was taking a hammer to the ball and heel of each foot. After a few miles, I would arrive back home feeling battered and bruised.

Back at the store, the salesman cheerfully told me to “just keep walking.”

So, I walked. Farther and farther. 5 miles, 8 miles, 10 miles. And still my feet were being tortured.

Then, one day this spring, we were in the outdoors store to buy my son a new swimsuit, when I saw a display of Keen Oregon PCT boots. I don’t know what came over me. Most likely, it was a deep subconscious hatred for my Asolo boots.

I strayed. I picked up one of the Keens. It looked different. Friendlier, happier.

I put it on my foot. The sole was bouncier. My toes had wiggle room.

Without thinking of my Asolos back home, I slipped on both Keen boots and walked around that store. The epiphany came to me within a minute.

I’d been wearing the wrong boots!

Those poor Asolos, they just weren’t the right fit for me, but it took me six months to realize it.

The new Keens came home with me, and the very next day I walked 12 miles in them. With absolutely no foot pain whatsoever.

And the day after that, the Asolos went up on eBay.

I’m happy to say that I have arrived at the end of my struggle to learn to walk. Soon I will be setting out in my Keen Oregon PCTs, feet smeared with BodyGlide to prevent blisters, covered by a pair of polypropylene liners, and covered again by a pair of Coolmax cushioned hiking socks.

Learning to walk is not a simple endeavor. It’s a process of trial and error, give and take, disappointment and surprise.

I started off hoping this would all be worth it. The long walk across England hasn’t even begun yet, and I can state emphatically that it has been a success. My personal goal to raise 1000 British Pounds (that’s nearly $1500) was met this week. Friends, family, bloggers, even strangers, came through big time. I am humbled, impressed, and exhausted.

My other personal goal, to make it through those 84 miles without faltering, is that much closer now that I’ve properly learned to walk.

By the way, there’s still plenty of time to make a donation to my walk. Visit the Idaho Dad’s Long Walk Fundraising page to add to my total. Every penny goes to the charity.

Walking In The Sun

In preparation for my cross-country walk this summer, I stuffed my backpack with roughly 20 pounds of dirty laundry, then headed out into the Idaho sunshine for a bit of spring training.

We found a new place to hike, the Mineral Point Trail along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho.

It did wonders for my spirit to be out walking in the sun.

After you’re done perusing my pictures below, visit my fundraising page and consider making a small donation to the charity I’m supporting through my long walk.

A gift from you to them would also do wonders for my spirit.

This is the first of many mentions of my fundraising efforts over the next few months. You’ll have plenty of chances to donate a few bucks, but now’s as good a time as any.

Lake Pend Oreille

Throwing stones at the glass lake

A nice thinking spot

Epic scenery on Lake Pend Oreille

Gorgeous North Idaho

Rock climbing at Mineral Point

Even the dead trees are beautiful