Before Shadrach and I became parents, we would go hiking as often as we could. Then, when Logan was born, it kind of just got pushed to the back burner. We forgot about how much we enjoy it. Recently I got the itch to get out and go hiking again. I figured Logan was getting old enough to enjoy it and he should be able to go for a while without wearing out.
So, I did some research and went on the hunt for a local place to hike that is family friendly. My requirements were:
- A place that is less than an hour from our house
- A picnic area
- Restrooms (preferably with flushable toilets)
- Trails that were under two miles long.
That is when I stumbled upon Charleston Falls Preserve in Tipp City, Ohio. It met all of my requirements. So, on Labor Day Monday, we packed a picnic dinner and headed out for the perfect evening hike.
When to Go Hiking
It’s so funny, the day we decided to go hiking, the plan was to get out and go in the morning and have a picnic lunch. However, if you’ve been following us on Instagram, you’ll know that we are not morning people and getting out the door when planned rarely happens. So, what was supposed to be a morning hike turned into an early evening hike with a dinner picnic.
I was frustrated at first that our day didn’t go as planned but once we arrived and started walking, I realized that it ended up being the perfect time to go. The reality is, there is no ideal time to go hiking. It’s all about what works best for your family. While I don’t recommend going at night, I will encourage you to try different times of the day. It was fun and a nice change of pace to have a dinner picnic instead of being out in the heat of the day eating lunch.
Charleston Falls Preserve
This place was easy to find, thanks to our handy dandy GPS. Once we parked, it was easy to see where the trail began. We did stop and look at the big map at the head of the path to see where we needed to go and what we were doing. It always helps to have a good idea of what the trail looks like and what the name of it is before heading out.
Once we got going, I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful of a hike it was. Even though we were near a city, it felt like we were in some faraway place away from everything, just exploring. That is one of the big things I love about hiking!
The Trail to the Falls
The trail we chose to walk was perfect for Logan. It was a loop that took us to the falls. It was not strenuous or challenging. The path is wide and allows plenty of room which is nice when you have a rambunctious little boy.
There are two options when you get to the falls. You could walk to the bottom of the falls, or you could just stay at the top and viewed it from there. The walk down is a bit more difficult because there are steps and then you have to walk back up the hill.
We chose the hike down to the bottom of the falls, and it was awesome! While things were dry and there wasn’t much more than a trickle of water, it was still pretty to look at. Plus, Logan thought it was fun to be doing “real” hiking. Shadrach and I were a little bummed that there wasn’t more of a waterfall, but we will have to head back in the spring after the snow starts melting. I would imagine it’s fantastic then.
Overall the best part of this trail was that Logan had fun and he didn’t get worn out and beg to be carried or stop for a million breaks. It ended up being the perfect way to introduce Logan to hiking!
After a nice hike, we decided to head to the picnic area for our picnic dinner! I loved how they had it set up. There was a significant opening than had four or five alcoves with picnic tables in them. Since it was evening, there was only one other family there, so we had our pick of where to eat. It was quiet and shaded.
One thing to keep in mind if you do plan to have a picnic at Charleston Falls Preserve is you do have a short walk to the tables. It is close to the parking lot, but it’s not visible from the parking lot. So you do have to carry all of your coolers and bags to the tables.
After we ate, Logan wanted to keep walking and exploring, but it was getting late, so we headed home. However, there are about four miles worth of trails and an observation deck over a pond. We did not come across the pond. Which was a bummer. We just stuck to the shorter path, so we will have to try out the other trails next time we go hiking at Charleston Falls Preserve. There was so much more to see there than the little bit we saw.
Tips for Hiking with Children at Charleston Falls Preserve
If you are looking for a great place to introduce your little ones to hiking and exploring, this should definitely be on the list! Here are some tips to help you prepare:
- If you don’t think your children can hike a mile, be sure to bring a child carrier. I will say if you have a jogging stroller, it could probably do just fine on the trails too (you just won’t be able to go to the bottom of the falls with a stroller).
- Bring a backpack with snacks and some water. These always help kiddos of any age when they are starting to get tired.
- Make the hike fun by looking around at wildlife and flowers. I’ve noticed that when kids start to get bored during a hike, they usually start complaining of being tired. So, keep them engaged and busy while you are walking.
- Plan to stay for a picnic and enjoy a quiet meal together as a family. It’s so great to get out of the house and do something different for meal time. Plus, the fresh air is bound to give everyone quite an appetite.
- Be sure everyone is wearing appropriate shoes for hiking! While the trail is not strenuous, tennis shoes are a wise choice, especially if you plan to go to the bottom of the waterfall.
- Take time to look at the map and get an idea of how long the trails are and what the names of the trails are. This way you don’t end up on the wrong path, walking five miles with little ones. That could be a recipe for disaster and ruin what should have been a fun time.
For the Love of Hiking
Our little family had a great time hiking at Charleston Falls Preserve, and we plan to make a trip back soon! I am hopeful that the waterfall will be a bit bigger. Logan has been asking when we are going hiking again, so I’d say this little trip accomplished what we were wanting. To introduce our little guy to hiking and hopefully pass on our love of being outdoors.
So, tell me, have you ever been to Charleston Falls Preserve? Or, do you have a favorite place you like to go hiking? Comment below and let us know! If there’s a place in Ohio you recommend hiking, comment or send us an email to share with us! We’d love to hear from you!**To see what we’ve been up to lately head over to our videos page and catch our experience of the Holiday Horse Parade!