Walking the trails is a great way to get a closer look at nature, regardless of a child's age. Even toddlers can explore new habitats, especially on short easy-to-manage trails that loop back to their starting points. Pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water for your trek, and encourage young trail hands to identify animal tracks, rocks or nearby birds. Spend some family time perusing guide books or stop by the park's visitor center before hiking; your child will have a better idea of what animals live in the wild, and how to spot them.
For older children up for a longer hike, offer a hands-on way to practice map-reading skills. The added allure of compass-driven navigation can make the miles pass quickly. Although you'll still want to steer clear of steep and arduous trails, older children usually embrace the challenge afforded by slightly rugged terrains.