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Are you looking for a fun summer activity, but don't want to break the bank? One of our family's absolute favorite frugal summer activities is trying out local bike trails in our community, and this year all our kiddos are finally old enough to ride their big kid bikes all by themselves. (We've spent the last twelve years pushing, pulling or toting one along with us, so I'm thinking we've finally arrived. . . WOOHOOO!)
If you haven't tried out a bike trail yet with young children, here are a few suggestions:
- Find local bike trails in your area at TrailLink.com. (If your family doesn't own bikes for everyone, or your little ones are too tiny to enjoy the ride, remember you can always take a walk on some great trails as well!)
- Plan your trip during the coolest part of the day. By planning your trip in the early morning or evening, you'll avoid the heat of the day as well as miss naptime for the little ones in your family. Around our house, an early evening bike ride makes for a very good night's sleep too! 🙂
- Pack appropriately for your trip. You'll want to take water bottles (carry a sack backpack if your bikes don't have racks for water bottles), helmets, bug spray, a few band-aids and some antibiotic ointment (just in case!), as well as a camera for pictures along the way.
- Plan the length of your trip based on the ages and bike-riding ability of your children. Our youngest just started riding a two-wheeler this Spring at the age of five, and she pretty easily handled four miles on her first long trip. Before setting out on a “longer” trail though, you may want to do a test-drive around your neighborhood to see how they do before planning a longer trip though! In case you do go further than your little ones can make it, many trails include places to stop along the way so you can usually send someone back for the car if you need to.
- Know what kind of surface you'll be biking on before you go. Many trails have both solid and rocky surfaces, which may be difficult if you have little ones who are new to riding (or riding with training wheels.) You can check to see if the trail that you're planning to ride is on a paved or gravel surface by looking on TrailLink.com for trails that are either wheelchair accessible or allow inline skating. Most likely those ones will be an easy ride for your little guys!
- Plan a fun treat at the end of the trail! While we love the ride, one of our favorite parts is a special ending somewhere along the way. Many trails include playgrounds at the end of the loop, and you can always swing by McDonald's for $1 Sundaes, Wendy's for $1 Frosties, or Sonic for half price slushes or milk shakes as a special treat. (This is also a fantastic motivator if you're children's legs get a little tired . . . I'm always amazed at how much more quickly my children will pedal when there's food involved!)