By Micaela Williamson
When her daughter was 3 in 2004, educator Jennifer Chambers started her own business, Hiking Along, to engage children in exploration of the natural world and help them discover an appreciation of the environment while hiking on scenic trails around the region. Since then, Jennifer has led over 1,000 families on local hikes and authored the detailed local guidebook, “Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, The Beltway & Beyond. The book, published by Mountaineer Books, expertly describes and illustrates nearly 70 family-friendly hikes all within a two-hour radius of the capital.
“Since my children were infants, I love sharing time on a trail with them. It is rarely about the destination but about the journey and engaging with them as they discover the limitless possibilities to be creative and curious in nature. I wanted to share my knowledge about the D.C. region’s trails so parents can have a similar bonding time with their children as I do with mine,” Chambers reveals.
“Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, The Beltway and Beyond” is incredibly user-friendly and comprehensive. From the gentle boardwalk strolls and forest loops to rocky terrain and river crossings, the book has a diverse variety of hikes ranging from easy to challenging. Each hike is expertly authored with driving directions, a detailed trail map, pictures and observations to note along the way. Bright icons call out which trails have fun extras, such as playgrounds, picnic areas, camping and, perhaps the most essential information for young families, where to find public restrooms and drinking water. Sidebars throughout the book mention facts about historical places, plants, berry picking, animals and formations along the way. Plus, the Quick Guide to the Hikes chart in the beginning of the book helps readers pick out the right hike for their family by sorting by difficulty, season and highlights.
Along with hiking, Jennifer is very passionate about litter’s effect on our waterways and oceans. She has served the Maryland State Advocate for Leave No Trace for almost three years and is a board chair for the American Hiking Society. She believes that parents are their kids’ greatest role models.
“Parents who introduce their children to nature and recreate with them in the outdoors produce children, and later adults, who have comfort with the outdoors, develop a relationship with nature and therefore respect and become stewards of the natural environment,” she says.
Chambers hopes her book becomes an essential resource for area families. By discovering local gems and engaging in outdoor adventures, she wants her work to help families foster a positive relationship with nature.
“Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, The Beltway and Beyond” is 320 pages and contains over 100 stunning photographs and 68 detailed trail maps. The book is available on the Mountaineer Books website and on Amazon.
Micaela Williamson is a coauthor of local travel guide Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award-winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.