Hikes that scramble over rocks, around giant boulders and through crevices can be some of the most adventurous and fun for kids. Little ones are often natural climbers, and nature’s playgrounds are fun for the whole family. Grab your sturdy hiking shoes and keep scrolling for our favorite scrambles in the DC area.
Sunrise Trail, Sugarloaf Mountain, Dickerson, Maryland
A one-mile hike up and back to an epic view makes this scramble worth every rock. My little ones are 4, 4 and 3 years old, and they made up this path on their own, but not without a few skinned knees. The hike is shady all the way to the top, and the overlook is nothing short of breath-taking. Stop at the family-friendly winery at the bottom of the mountain when you’re finished.
Devil’s Den, National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Trust me; this one is worth the drive. Yes, you can hike around the military park and take a self-guided tour for tons of civil war history, but we spent our entire afternoon scrambling around Devil’s Den. The central rock outcropping is full of climbing spots and dark crevices to explore, but there are lots of other little places to hop around too. The area is in full sun so keep that in mind when you plan your visit.
Burnt Mills Park East, Silver Spring, Maryland
The hike is fantastic if your crew is up for it. We didn’t make it very far because my kids wanted to climb the huge rocks and splash around in the water. Personally, I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous waterfall. We enjoyed our picnic on the rocks too. Save this hike for fall because the leaf-peeping is incredible. Park West is just across the street, and there is a picturesque dam to see there too.
Cunningham Falls State Park, Cliffs Trail, Thurmont, Maryland
We chose the upper falls trail at 1.4 miles to take in all the rocks. There aren’t many rocks to climb up and over, but the trail itself is a moderate scramble to the falls. I’ve heard there are quite a few scramble hikes in the area. We’ll have to go back to find some more.
Weverton Cliffs, Knoxville, Maryland
Again, this isn’t a climbing trail as much as a moderate hike full of rocks to scramble over. The views are worth the effort, and there is plenty of shade to keep you cool on your way to the top. My little ones didn’t make it all the way up on a hot summer day, so we’re planning to try again on a chilly fall morning.
Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park, Leesburg, Virginia
I would save this hike for warm weather because you’ll miss some great scrambling if you can’t get through the water. Don’t be turned off by the walk through the golf course; the area is beautiful down by the river, and the hike is very little kid-friendly. Pack a change of clothes just in case splashing turns to sitting in the water.
Worth the Drive: White Rocks Trail, Boiling Springs, PA
About 1 mile in, you’ll come to a pretty big scramble, and I highly recommend you get everybody to the top. The view is absolutely amazing. I knew we wouldn’t do this entire 2.9-mile out and back trail, but I’m so glad we made it to this overlook spot. We even ate our picnic at the top so we could keep on enjoying the view together.
We still have a list of places we want to visit. I’ll update the list as we get to each one.
- Bear’s Den
- Billy Goat Trail, Great Falls
- C&O Lock 10
- Carderock Recreation Area
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