Hike Kind on Montana’s Trails This Summer

By Nell Gehrke

May 18, 2022

I remember plodding along next to my dad on the trails in the Minnesota River Valley. I noticed that even on the gravel trail, my dad was making remarkably little sound. I promptly tried to emulate the way he moved through the world, taking everything in without making a sound. These hikes with my dad inspired a love for conservation that would eventually land me at the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. Writing this piece has caused me to reflect on the times I spent in the woods with my parents, and how grateful I am for those experiences.

I invite you to pause and think about a time in your early years when you were hiking with an adult. Keep these moments in mind as you take your little one out on the trails. Tune into what your child is enjoying. If they’re excited by seeing birds, take them to the Indreland Audubon Wetland Preserve. If your young one loves crushing miles, take them on a longer hike like Triple Tree or Kirk Hill.

Drinking Horse is a great trail for a family walk. Folks with young children can enjoy a short hike to a beautiful bridge with benches to rest on and easy access to the river. If your kids are ready for a challenge, or you’re ready to carry them, head to the top for spectacular views of the Gallatin Valley. Story Mill Community Park, Glen Lake Rotary Park and Gallatin Regional Park are great options for folks in town. Each offers flat trail with access to water. Story Mill Community Park boasts sculptures that are sure to inspire the imagination of young people.

While you’re out, continue to set a good example for your little ones. Hike Kind by continuing to steward Gallatin Valley’s trails with an ethic of community care. Encourage kids to join you in picking up litter. Go the extra mile and pick up the dog bag someone forgot at the side of the trail. Extend kindness to other trail users by greeting them. If you’re feeling bold, and packed extra clothes in the car, teach your kids to walk through puddles. Take the Hike Kind pledge as a family at www.outsidekind.org. There is also a great quiz to get your kids thinking about trail etiquette before hitting the trail.

GVLT also has family friendly volunteer events and activities. All ages are invited to join us on June 4th at Peets Hill to volunteer for National Trails Day. All over the country, communities like ours gather to tackle trail maintenance projects on National Trails Day. June 4th is also the beginning of the Summer Trails Challenge. Have your kids help set a family goal for the number of miles they want to hike during the challenge. Every mile they hike is 1$ for trails and conservation in Gallatin Valley! Additionally, GVLT is once again hosting our Discovery Walk series in partnership with City of Bozeman, Montana Outdoor Science School, and City of Bozeman Parks and Rec Department. This is a great way to get young people interested in the all the wonder Gallatin Valley’s trails hold.

When I first tried hiking silently like my dad, I wasn’t very good at it. I’ve come a long way since I was 12. The call of a sandhill crane or the sound of moving water serve as a reminder to come back to myself and to the trail. When this happens, I remember my dad and how he lets his feet fall softly wherever he walks.