“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.”
– John Muir
Something magical happens when you go hiking with small children, if you let it. You stop worrying about the destination and when (or if!) you will get there and start to realize that every rock, and bug, and flower is worth stopping for a closer look. That every puddle is worth stomping, every boulder worth scaling, and every bird song worth pausing to listen (and imitate, of course). You realize that the journey is just as important, if not more so, than the spectacular waterfall at the end. I dare you sometime to let yourself feel the squish of mud between your toes, the thrill of an icy March creek on your skin, the soft earth beneath you as you get down on your belly to examine a fuzzy caterpillar as he treks across the forest floor. It stirs something deep and long-forgotten in your soul. Go on, I dare you; take a look at nature through your child’s eyes. You won’t regret it.
For those in Arkansas who are interested in the details, this is the Lost Valley trail in Boxley Valley near Jasper. It is a very popular trail, and once you go you will see why. There is literally something amazing around every turn, from a beautiful bubbling creek bordered by wildflowers and blooming trees in the spring, to giant boulders and bluffs with waterfalls tunnelling through them, to an bluff overhang large enough to fit several houses beneath with a view of a huge, churning waterfall beyond that finally, at the end of the trail, spills out from a cave (actually, you can go back in the cave 100 yards or so to see another 30 ft waterfall if you remembered to bring your flashlight). All this in less than 3 miles, round trip. Have I convinced you to check it out yet? If so, I recommend an overcast, cool or early morning hike to avoid the crowds that sometimes appear on nice, sunny, spring break weekends 😉 My all time favorite visit was in January one year. We had the trail entirely to ourselves and, after exploring the cave a bit, we emerged to find that a light snow had fallen while we were inside. Magical. Give it a go!
By the way, we did make it to the waterfall, although it took us the better part of a day and we had to carry a very worn out three-year-old the entire way back out! 🙂