Top 5 most beautiful family hiking destinations
23 September 2019
Are you looking for more of family walks, long-distance hiking trails or mountain trails? There are plenty of hiking attractions all over the world where enthusiasts can get to discover high peaks, walk by river shores or gallop through mountain pastures. Here are Little Guest’s (collection of luxury family hotels) top 5 destinations to enjoy the mountains and valleys, as well as a variety of tips on how to enjoy the experiences with your entire family!
ATTACKING THE PEAK OF REUNION ISLAND
For the more adventurous
It is not for nothing that Reunion Island is nicknamed the “intense island”. Strong in emotions and rich in sensations, it is a true hiker’s paradise for both pro and amateur hikers. Volcanic and mountainous, Bourbon Island boasts diverse, wild and untamed landscapes, designed by the elements. Lava flows and the sea have shaped an extraordinary setting that has become an undisputed hiking attraction. The area has been selected by the French for the 2019 edition of their popular GR (long-distance hiking trail)!
Before putting on your walking shoes and throwing yourself between tree ferns and cryptomerias, first mark on a map the two main ranges of the island: the Piton des neiges and the Piton de la fournaise. Over 9.000 km of marked trails criss-cross the forest around these two summits.
The trail from the viewpoint of Piton Marmite is ideal for families seeking an affordable itinerary. The mountain’s hilarious name will probably have your young ones giggling, boosting the troops’ motivation. After only 30 minutes and 70m of positive altitude difference along a foamy path, the walker will be rewarded with an exceptional view of the Salazie and Mafate circuses. Be sure to check out the view of “La Piton Cabri”, a green canine rising from the stone ridge in the heart of the plain.
Those feeling up to it can go on a full day trip to the Cirque de Mafate, an exceptional natural site. You can explore this mythical and unspoilt site through a number of itineraries, usually of high intensity. While it is possible to savor the beauties of the circus in one day by taking the itinerary from Le Maïdo to the Trois Roches waterfall by Roche Plate, you must be seasoned, since the positive altitude gradient is 1720 metres over 19 kms. Itinerary
Another option? The itinerary from Aries to la Nouvelle via the Col de Fourche and Maison Laclos is also a great way to access the circus. Although of medium difficulty, it includes steep climbs (1350 m of altitude difference) and a few vertiginous passages that will be largely compensated by the crossing of the Tamarind Plain and the pleasant freshness of its forest. This itinerary is unique in that it is close to the Rivière des Galets (a must cross), whose course is punctuated by basins and small waterfalls beckoning to those wanting to take a dip. It is possible to refuel during the walk spanning approximately 15 km for a duration of 6 hours and 30 minutes. Itinerary
The ideal place to stay
After a tedious day, the entire family of adventurers should head to Lux Saint Gilles , the entire family of adventurers should head to Lux Saint Gilles, with its direct access to the Hermitage beach, which is perhaps one of the most beautiful on the island. Perfect to refresh your feet after a long day of walking! Besides its exclusive location on the west coast, the hotel is located in the vicinity of Piton des neiges, offering a variety of hiking opportunities.
After long days in the hills, it is absolute appealing to return to the hotel’s colonial-style villas to rejuvenate yourself in the freshness of the hotel’s tropical gardens. You will feel the Creole spirit everywhere, down to the last detail: the delicious Queen Victoria pineapple, for example, the undisputed star of the island, will undoubtedly find its way onto your plates. Moreover, children become true royalties at LUX Saint Gilles: the PLAY area with its many activities (beach, treasure hunt, games…) is entirely dedicated to them.
Tips and advice
Some trails are closed, it will serve you well to first check with the NFB or the local prefecture.
- Reunion Island is a tropical AND mountainous island subject to rather uncertain weather, especially cyclones… After mud and scree, fog is a hikers’ greatest enemy. It can fall quickly, causing you to lose your bearings or simply obscure your view!
- If you feel like it, there are many hiking clubs and organizations ready to accompany hikers: We strongly recommend Rando Piton.
THE CUSTOMS TRAIL, BRITTANY ALONG THE WATER
For lovers of wild beaches
The GR 34, also known as the “customs trail”, runs between heather and gorse moors, stretching for nearly 2000 km along the coasts of Brittany. It is named for the customs officers who used it to limit smuggling. Between cliffs and coves, this itinerary, created in 1791, is shaped by history. Its unique feature? You never lose sight of the sea! There are plenty of opportunities to refresh and splash around between the two phases. Of a rather accessible level, the GR 34 allows beginners to enjoy the joys of hiking over several legs.
One of them will lead you from Saint Malo to Dinard on a 12 km loop along the famous côte d’Emeraude. From the fortified city, this pleasant journey between modernity and nature offers a wide range of panoramic views of beaches on the one hand and the sumptuous Anglo-Norman fronts of these two seaside resorts on the other hand. With a distance of 13 km and positive altitude difference of around 400 meters, walking families will come across the tidal factory of the Rance (an opportunity to introduce their youngsters to the rhythms of the tides), or the old cemetery of Saint Sevran, now sown with many flowers. It is said that the cemetery also contains ancient pirate graves. Once in Dinard, the whole family can enjoy a few fresh oysters! Itinerary
For lovers of more rugged landscapes, beaten by winds and the sea, the stretch of trail that connects Fort de la Latte to Sables d’Or Les Pins via the majestic Cap Fréhel is a magnificent beauty. Fort de la Latte, a genuine pink sandstone vessel, proudly dominates the sea. Children will love climbing its steps and watching the power of the waves from up above. It is also a great place to watch seabirds such as the Atlantic puffin, the hoary lapwing or the European oriole with its lemon-yellow plumage. Binoculars around your neck, your kids will be amazed. Hikers walk 4.7 km of seaside trails in 1 hour and 15 minutes, for a positive altitude difference of 197m. Itinerary
Seduced by these few steps and still feeling that tickling in your feet, take on the entire trail, which, from one end of the Armorique to the other, holds many surprises for hikers, from the untamed Finistere to the long beaches of the Golfe du Morbihan.
For more information, visit the official website of the French Hiking Federation.
The ideal place to stay
Just a stone’s throw from the customs trail, the Grand Hôtel des Thermes and its Beautiful ancient style welcomes families for an unforgettable break overlooking the great blue sea. Parents love the Thalasso center and its 14 workshops run by wellness professionals. The highly invigorating Mer&Rehab program will help the whole family recover from their adventures. Toddlers are not left out, as a tailor-made program, the Aquatonic course, invites them to familiarize themselves with the joys of water. Moreover, the budding pirates can take full advantage of the establishment’s baby-club and kids-club, which welcome children from 2 months to 6 years old and from 6 to 12 years old respectively.
Tips and advice
Coastal trails sometimes mean steep paths and sheer cliffs. Some stretches of the trail are narrow and lead directly to… the Big Blue! So be careful and always hold your youngsters during these (rare) passages.
Alagna Valsesia, une vallée familiale en Italie du Nord
For lovers of the Italian Alps
The green Valsesia Valley (Alagna Valsesia) unfolds in the heart of the Italian Alps under the shade of the Monte Rosa massif. Untouched and far from floods of tourists who sometimes crowd the alpine slopes, it is dotted with hamlets and traditional wooden houses that blend into the lush greenery of the area. Hiking families looking for simplicity and authenticity will find their happiness, especially along the mule tracks (old paths used originally by mules and their loads) frequented by the Walsers. Ancestral inhabitants of the valley, these people have left their traditions and culture as a heritage, as well as an unrivalled legacy. Several hiking trails run through the valley, known as “the greenest in Italy”. Among them, the Parc de la Haute Valsesia is a true alpine paradise! It is also the highest natural park in Europe, reaching a height of 4,554 meters (Pointe Gnifetti). For Little Guests not looking to explore the glaciers of the region, there are plenty of guaranteed walks on relatively level terrain!
Families will enjoy walks to the Pastore refuge, a log and dry-stone chalet nestled in the Alpe Stiga, which also boasts a botanical garden and the park house. The large panoramic terrace provides for a refreshing break to quench your thirst or snack on one of the country’s specialities. From the village of Merletti, follow path n 206, a mule track that winds its way along a small plain before climbing towards the peaks. After a 375m ascent and for a short hour of travel you can enjoy the magnificent panoramic views of Monte Rosa. Itinerary
With proper walking shoes on, nothing can stop families from going down the steepest roads. The “Tagliaferro d’Alagna” trail (track info) will undoubtedly appeal to sports lovers. It is technically not very difficult but still features 1770 m of climbing (and descent since it is a loop). However, up there… both children and adults will feel like they are on top of the world! Some dry-stone houses, a small lake in which the surrounding peaks shimmer, two or three donkeys grazing… and above all a breathtaking view of Monte Rosa. Don’t miss a stop at Alpe Campo during your ascent to enjoy a meal, and above all to replenish your energy supply! Itinerary
The ideal place to stay
Tucked away in the lush greenery of the Valsesia Alpine Valley, Mirtillo Rosso Family Hotel is a small mountain hotel with contemporary overtones. It enjoys a breathtaking view of the surrounding peaks, as well as all the invigorating benefits of the pristine air of the Alps. With its 60 rooms and festive atmosphere, it is a resolutely family hotel with a passion for bringing tribes together. It is also one of the few hotels in the region to have both a baby-club and a kids club. A little more unusual: Mirtillo celebrates Christmas every 24th and 25th of the month, rekindling the spirit and folklore of the end-of-year celebrations! The Mirtillo Rosso doesn’t interest you? discover our best high-end hotels to celebrate Christmas with your family.
Surrounded by mountain huts, lakes and hamlets, the hotel organizes daily family outings for explorers and curious people needing inspiration. Little adventurers should not under any circumstances miss the excursion to the La Beline educational farm. It offers a unique opportunity to get close to and caress the animals on the pasture.
THE SIMMENTAL, PANORAMAS OF THE SWISS ALPS
For families inspired by the great outdoors
The Swiss Alps have for centuries drawn people to the region in search of fresh air and breathtaking landscapes. Graubünden, the famous Matterhorn at 4,478m or its little sister at 4,158m (the Jungfrau Massif), the famous surreal blue lakes where snow-covered peaks are reflected…and among these wonders, the quiet Simmental Valley. A little-known jewel of the Bernese Alps, it is located on the border between the Canton of Bern and that of Valais, close to its noisy neighbor: Gstaad.
Between walking and touring, the Simmental can be adapted to every taste and every desire. The flat valley bottom is a perfect for small family excursions, while the heights of the massif allow for more demanding routes in the high mountains. Looking for a thrill? The Oberwil suspension bridge allows you to cross a valley 11 metres above the gorges.
Picture a vast green and level lawn surrounded by high mountains. And in the middle of it a small lake called Lenkerseeli. Surrounding it all is the calm of a peaceful valley. A 1hr 19 mins route, accessible by stroller and small calves (barely 41 metres of altitude difference!) allows you to explore this enchanting place as far as the Simmen Falls. Kids will be delighted to discover the AlpKultur playground and its many facilities on the way: a zip line, a suspended mini-bridge, a water table, slides and swings… as well as a senses track, a hedge labyrinth and a giant mikado to climb: there are many activities to spend hours in this exceptional play area made exclusively from wood and natural materials. The area is very convenient, hosting an on-site picnic area. You can reach the village of Lenk by public transport. Itinerary
Has the famous Oberwil Pasture Suspension Bridge awakened in you a desire for adventure? That’s great, from Weissenburg a hiking itinerary will take you to this amazing place. Provided you are not afraid of heights, this path will guide you from the thermal spring of the village to the mountain pastures after grazing the treetops, all in two short hours for a 236m elevation drop. Aiming for over five kilometers? Continue the hike towards the cave paths of Mamilchloch and Schnurenloch. Both young and old explorers bravely explore before ascending to discover the secrets of these thousand-year-old excavations. Itinerary
A wide choice of routes and circuits await you right here!
The ideal place to stay
Located right in the heart of the valley, families looking for a break in the countryside and at the foot of the Swiss mountains, put their suitcases (or backpacks) down at Lenkerhof Gourmet Spa Resort. This landmark establishment’s history goes back 350 years to the baths and the Balem spring it owned. A dream place for spa lovers, the hotel subsequently developed a Gourmet Resort & Spa concept to offer its guests the most complete experience possible, while making it a priority to adapt to family needs. A stay at Lenkerhof is a break from the hustle and bustle of life, a real gastronomic and hotel getaway, culminating in over 2,000 m2 of wellness space. Whether in winter or summer, it is the perfect place to explore the surroundings and, after the day’s explorations, to slip into a luxurious setting.
For extraordinary volcanic landscapes
It is sometimes easy to overlook the Teide volcanic massif in Tenerife as Spain’s highest peak! Who said that the Canary Islands were only for beach lovers and long days of sunbathing? On the contrary, the destination is full of possibilities for hikers and nature lovers.
Enthusiasts can find the Teide National Park, with its lunar and volcanic landscapes, in the heart of the island, while in the north-western tip of Tenerife they will discover the wild and rarely visited Teno Rural Park. Good news, they both have a visitor’s center to guide you and help you choose the hikes that best suit your expectations and possibilities. The perfect schedule, highly recommended by Little Guest: Take off early to discover the beauty of the mineral landscapes before immersing yourself in the crystal-clear waters of the island’s natural coastal pools, remnants of the island’s volcanic activity. True basins of black rock, they are the best kept secret of the archipelago!
Not far from the Sàmara lookout (marking the start and finish of the loop), a path winds its way through the pines of the canaries. The dark volcanic earth is highlighted by a blue sky plunging into the sea, forming a contrast of surprising beauty. This family walk takes you to the slopes of the Sàmara volcano through the tephras (lapillis and lava). From a distance, the whole family can observe the stone silhouette of the volcanic cones of Teide and Pico Viejo. What if this is an opportunity to teach the children a little lesson and introduce them to volcanology? With such a view, they are likely to be enthralled… The route, relatively flat (300m climb in total) and short (2 hrs 45 mins), is adapted for the youngest of feet. Itinerary
Reigning over Tenerife is the Pico del Teide, which rises to 3,718 m, majestically overlooking the Caldera de Las Cañadas, a lava field that evokes the canyons worthy of the best Western westerns. The Siete Cañadas itinerary runs through these exotic landscapes and is a section of the famous Chasna path (or Gr 131 route), which has been used for several centuries by locals and travelers wishing to cross the island from north to south. Hiking in June, you will undoubtedly come across Echium wildpretii, typical red flowers of the island, raising their incredible silhouettes through the stony landscape. The kids won’t believe their eyes: the flowers can reach up to two meters high! While on the nearly 17 km route, don’t forget to visit the remains of shepherds’ huts, as well take in the various views of the Teide. Itinerary
For the less motivated, take full advantage of the Teide cable car to reach the top of this impressive volcano without much effort. Besides, it is also an adventure to embark on an expedition suspended above the void, to attack this impressive volcano!
The ideal place to stay
The 5-star Baobab Suites hotel is conveniently located between the majestic mountains of the Teide volcanic massif and the Atlantic Ocean. Not far from the Costa Adeje, the hillside establishment offers an exceptional panoramic view of the sea and the island’s grounds in the eternal spring.
The minimalist and bold lines of its immaculate architecture reflect this prestigious address providing a resolutely modern luxury. Renowned for its unique approach, the hotel aims to get off the beaten track. Pretty good for hikers, right? Moreover, should Mom and Dad wish to attack the Teide without their toddlers, the hotel’s kids club takes care of children from 3 to 12 years old. This stimulating, spacious and colorful environment welcomes them every day to prepare pizzas, organize outdoor games and splash around in the paddling pool!
Tips and advice
For more information, visit the official website of Teide National Park.
HIKING WITH CHILDREN
Some tips and advice
- Never go on a hike with your children without arranging some food supplies (snacks, water, etc.).
- While this may seem obvious, putting on proper footwear is of paramount importance, both for safety and comfort reasons.
- Be sure to check weather conditions before setting out! Thunderstorms in the mountains can occur very quickly and can be particularly violent.
- It is important to bring maps with you: they are always useful to find your way around or simply to change your itinerary more easily.
- To motivate children, do not hesitate to bring some treasure hunt accessories such as compasses, binoculars, magnifying glasses for insect sightings, etc.
Mylène, 28 years old, art lover and travel addict, from Strasbourg, France