Kid Everest

Who says you can't take your children mountaineering? The trick is to choose the right summit—then watch as they amaze themselves by scaling it. These five peaks, in order from easiest to hardest, are handpicked to bring out your kid's inner Messner.

More Family Inspiration

For more great family vacation ideas, check out the 2003 Outside Traveler Family Edition—available on newsstands now!

Diamond Head, shoulder and head above the rest

[Hawaii]
DIAMOND HEAD CRATER
TRAILWISE
SUMMIT: 761 feet. TRAIL: 1.5 miles round-trip. Pack water, sunscreen, and a flashlight (dark tunnels!) for the trek up this Pacific landmark, an extinct volcano near Waikiki, Oahu. The rocky trail up the crater rim is steep at times, but kids as young as four can reach the summit observation deck. The reward is 360-degree views of surf, sand, and palms from Waikiki to Koko Head, a 642-foot promontory off the southeast coast of Oahu.

WHY KIDS LOVE IT
Mountaineering in the tropics is a great way to play Indiana Jones: The 225-foot tunnel is cool and spooky, and a surprise awaits at the trailhead, where hikers see that mighty Diamond Head Crater is a mostly hollow shell.

COOL DIGS
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa (808-949-4321, www.hawaiianvillage.hilton.com) is situated in a prime spot—it fronts the widest stretch of Waikiki Beach—and has kids’ programs (for ages five to 12) for $50 per day, including lunch. Doubles start at $189.

RESOURCES
Hawaii State Parks: 808-587-0300 www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dsp/oahu.html

The modern, kinetic family

[New York]
BAXTER MOUNTAIN
TRAILWISE
SUMMIT: 2,440 feet. TRAIL: 2.2 miles round-trip from Spruce Hill. There may be an easier peak or two for kindergartners to scale in the Adirondacks, but Baxter has the biggest payoff—terrific views of the High Peaks and Keene Valley—for a moderate investment of sweat. Best snow-free climbing is May through mid-October.

WHY KIDS LOVE IT
Children can forage while they walk—there are blueberries growing along the trail—and there's good rock scrambling near the summit.

COOL DIGS
Walk to Baxter Mountain from Keene Valley Lodge (518-576-2003, www.keenevalleylodge.com), a family-friendly B&B. The nine rooms in the 85-year-old Victorian include family suites, which start at $135; doubles start at $90.

RESOURCES
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ranger office: 518-897-1300

Mount Baker: Your view awaits

[Washington]
WINCHESTER MOUNTAIN
TRAILWISE
SUMMIT: 6,521 feet. TRAIL: about four miles round-trip.
The well-marked path, which starts between the Twin Lakes and winds 1,300 feet up through Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to an old lookout post, has terrific views of 10,781-foot Mount Baker, and is best suited for ages eight and up. It's usually snow-free from August through mid-October. (The ragged road to the trailhead requires four-wheel drive or hoofing an extra four miles.)

WHY KIDS LOVE IT
With so many other Cascade Range peaks soaring around them—several with glaciers—kids might be fooled into thinking they're in the Himalayas.

COOL DIGS
Glacier Creek Lodge (800-719-1414, www.glaciercreeklodge.com), 33 miles east of Bellingham in the town of Glacier, has cabins with kitchens ($70 and up) and motel units ($44 and up) on Glacier Creek, with a mountain backdrop.

RESOURCES
Mount Baker Ranger District: 360-856-5700 www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs

Walking with giants in the land of fourteeners

[Colorado]
DEER MOUNTAIN
TRAILWISE
SUMMIT: 10,013 feet. TRAIL: six miles round-trip. This moderately strenuous trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, best for ages eight and up, winds along Deer Ridge to the summit, with views of surrounding snowcapped peaks, including 14,255-foot Longs Peak. Best weather is June to September, though snow or thunderstorms are always possible.

WHY KIDS LOVE IT
Even if this peak is several thousand feet shy of a fourteener, it's a Colorado classic—your kids will take pride in reaching the top. The relatively flat, shady area near the summit makes for a snapshot-friendly rest stop.

COOL DIGS
Castle Mountain Lodge (800-852-7463, www.castlemountainlodge.com), in Estes Park along the Fall River, has cabins with kitchens, fireplaces, and a playground on 35 acres bordering the national park. Family-size cabins start at $115.

RESOURCES
Rocky Mountain National Park: 970-586-1206 , www.rocky.mountain.national-park.com/hike.htm

The North Stars

More Family Inspiration
For more great family vacation ideas, check out the 2003 Outside Traveler Family Edition—available on newsstands now!

BEST REINDEER OMELET
[Gwennie's Restaurant, Anchorage]
In the early 1970s, Gwennie's was a brothel for workers constructing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Since 1981 it's had a tamer existence—as a family restaurant. Gwennie's serves a delicacy that most visitors have never whipped up at home: a reindeer omelet. The recipe? Five eggs, cheese, and lots of spicy Rudolph.
DETAILS: An omelet costs $10. (Gwennie's, 4333 Spenard Road, 907-243-2090)

BEST HOT SPRINGS
[Chena Hot Springs]
Soak in 101- to 105-degree water at Chena Hot Springs, a 35,000-gallon geothermal pool an hour's drive from Fairbanks. Spend a night at nearby Chena Hot Springs Resort, where kids can splash around in the indoor swimming pool.
DETAILS: A day pass is $10 per person (minimum age 18). Children can use the pool for $6. Doubles ($108-$140) include use of the springs and pool. (Chena Hot Springs Resort, 800-478-4681, www.chenahotsprings.com)

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