Hike it Homeschoolers: May 2018 Edition

I haven’t always loved hiking. But those days are far behind me.

Nowadays I run a 370+ member hiking group called Hike it Homeschoolers. (This is a blatant knock off name of Hike it Baby – please don’t sue me! 🙂 ) We aren’t for profit or advertise or get sponsorships or anything so I’m hoping it doesn’t matter. We are just a bunch of homeschoolers who like to go hiking together and make new friends – and we are pretty much isolated to 1 1/2 small counties in the entire United States. But if you happen to notice a name change and some major edits on all of these posts someday, you’ll know somebody didn’t like my choice of title.

The first year I started seriously hiking with my kids I tried to get a bunch of neighbors to go with us. Even though I’ve never seen a bear or mountain lion, I have this awful phobia that I’m going to be stuck in the wilderness with my defenseless little children and no other help and then all the sudden we’ll be attacked and that will be the end of it all. But maybe if there were a bigger group of us the scary bears and lions would just stay away, right?

That didn’t work out at all.

We ended up hiking every week, but mostly just by ourselves. Thankfully we were never eaten by bear nor mountain lion. All those hike reviews are listed as “A Hike A Week” or AHAW on the blog. You can search them with the search menu in the side bar area on the left. (Click on the little three bars at the top, then scroll down. There are so many goodies hidden behind those magic three bars!)

The second year, I figured out that the most social and family activity friendly people I know are actually homeschoolers! So I started this particular group so someone could protect me from all the nasty wildlife out there. Not all wildlife, of course, just the scary ones with big teeth and claws. The group grew really fast, but we average about 3 or 4 families a hike. That is just fine by me. That is generally about 15 to 20 people. I met some amazing people, made some fun friends, got the soul food out in nature that I needed (and my kids needed), and again, nobody got eaten.

Success!

Now on our third year, the numbers of the group continue to rise – but if May is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, we will probably still average about 3 to 4 families a hike. And like I said, that is perfect! (Although if we had 10 or more families I would probably also say that was perfect, too.) The point of the group – besides keeping me alive out in the woods – is to help families get into nature and give them a good list of local trails and hikes with reviews and photos.

This is why I love Hike it Baby! I never would have known about so many trails if it weren’t for that particular group. Although most of them are farther away from me, I appreciate and love seeing what is out there. If you aren’t a homeschooler local to my area, still get on Facebook and look for a Hike it Baby group near you. If your chapter is anything like mine, they are super inclusive, super active, and just a really great group of people and organization.

Hopefully now I’ve buttered them up enough that they wont decide to sue.

Actually, everything I said I totally believe. They are a great organization.

Anyway – here are our hikes for the month of May.

Battle Creek Falls 

This one is actually not my favorite. It is pretty short, but uphill and exposed to a lot of sun. The trail is rocky gravel for most of the way, and the descent to the waterfall is pretty steep, although very short and very doable. I purposely scheduled this hike for when all the public schools were still in session because it also gets really crowded. The kids had an absolute blast. It was a perfect day. We almost had the entire trail to ourselves! https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/utah/battle-creek-falls

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Dominguez Hill (a.k.a. The Escalante Cross) 

This is also not one of my favorite hikes, but it really is a good one. When Father Dominguez and Father Escalante (of Spain/Mexico) were exploring the West, they came out of what is now called Spanish Fork canyon and crested this hill to take in the scenery. Should they go north or south? (They went south. But this is where the town of Spanish Fork got it’s name – even though it was mostly settled by Icelanders – go figure.) I think they did build a few forts or settlements throughout their wanderings, but none of them ever became permanent – to my knowledge at least – and of course eventually all this land became US territory anyway.

The trailhead starts at the reservoir and campground. It goes into the woods and up into Snell Canyon for a ways before turning around and heading up the other side. Then it follows the ridge line until you descend low enough to plop right down on a big cross made out of white steel beams. You get a gorgeous view of Spanish Fork, the entire south end of the valley, and you are pretty much right on top of all the windmills – so that is fun, too.  Side note – if you ever fly from Denver to Salt Lake City, you will fly directly over this entire area about 15 minutes before landing. The mountains, canyon, and windmills are easy to see from the air, but the cross is a little more difficult to point out from up in the air. Don’t stare too hard. It’s absolutely beautiful and you will be tempted to move here.

I don’t care for this hike so much because of the very steep and loose rock ridge lines. There is no danger of falling off a cliff or anything, but this is not fun to do with toddlers or babies in hiking backpacks. Generally, I have always had at least one of those with me when I’ve hiked this trail. This year, the youngest child I brought was 5, so it was significantly more enjoyable. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/utah/dominguez-hill

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Waiting for the group to arrive. These are my kids playing at the reservoir with the cross in the background. Eventually we will get there – but not via that super steep trail you can see in the pic. 

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This is coming out of Snell Canyon looking back up into the Canyon. You can hike up there, too. (We did it last year) But it is pretty steep, especially at the end. And eventually the trail becomes less (or un) maintained and a little more difficult to follow.

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A better view of Snell Canyon and part of the trail on the ridge line

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You can tell this kid just *loves* going on all these hikes with his mom! He’s so lucky! 😉

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The Grotto

This is another super popular and super easy hike. I would have done this before public school let out except the canyons are still gated until about Memorial Day due to snow, so we had to wait and just endure the crowds. (Technically, we were the crowd.) The “parking lot” was only about half full when we started out, but when we came back down it was packed to overflowing. We got out just at the right time! The trail is slightly uphill, almost completely shaded in the trees, and crosses a little stream on little bridges before ending up in a little open cave with a waterfall pouring in – a grotto, if you will. I’ve seen people bring small lawn chairs up there to just lounge around, enjoy the afternoon, and let their kids play around in the water and rocks. This hike is fun, beautiful, and easy enough that my 3 year old could easily do the entire thing AND he had a blast in the water.

Just beware the crowds. (Which I guess this time means watch out for the likes of me!)  https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/utah/grotto-falls-trail

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My 3rd grader found a moth that had just newly come out of its chrysalis! It’s a good thing we raised butterflies this spring, otherwise we wouldn’t have known the signs to look for! (See, school doesn’t really end just because you are in summer break.)

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Have you taken your family on any of these hikes? I would also love to hear about other hikes – whether in my area or not – that you have gone one. In my opinion, the more people get out of the city and into the trees, the better!