Special Report: Tips for exploring trails safely with kids

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — During the pandemic parents had to think out of the box to keep children entertained.

KTSM 9 News Anchor Natassia Paloma and her son came up with a new way to bond out on hiking trails: the two explored the wonder of nature at a time when parks and playgrounds were closed.

Franklin State Park Ranger Lydia Pagel said there are great hiking trails for beginner hikers and children in El Paso.

“I love to start beginner hikers on probably the Nature Walk,” Pagel said. “It’s not so long so the kids are going to lose interest.”

Found in the Franklin Mountains State Park, the Nature Walk trail spans three-quarters of a mile. The trail is well-marked and narrow with lots to see.

“There’s also a lot of plant markers along the way so you can see where those plants are,” she said.

During spring, children can catch various cacti in bloom. Lizards and rabbits can also be seen on this particular trail.

“People ask me a lot what should (they) be worried about,” Pagel said. “Our animals are going to avoid you, but all of our plants bite.”

Other creatures that may be on a parent’s mind while hiking in the Southwest desert are snakes. Pagel said all the venomous snakes in the El Paso area are rattlesnakes, but biting incidents are incredibly rare.

“For the most part, unless you come up on them really fast, they’ll rattle and let you know if you’re getting too close,” Pagel said.

The heat is also very draining on children, so plenty of water and snacks are essential to ensure a fun time with kids. Pagel also suggests starting early in the morning. As for clothing, she said lightweight, loose clothing for the summer months and closed-toed shoes are ideal.

Hiking can be a wonderful experience with children, so Pagel reminds parents to let kids explore.

“Maybe start a little earlier in the morning just so the kids have the best experience that they can,” Pagel said. “Have fun, don’t have a schedule, just let the kids explore because that is what it’s about out here.”

Natassia Paloma’s suggestions for best kid-friendly trails in our region can be found on her blog.

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