We headed out last weekend in the cool weather to Pondhawk Natural Area. It is an amazing area and a great place to take the family out for beginner hikes!
You may remember that I reviewed Spanish River Sports Complex and how much we loved it. Pondhawk is directly across from it next to the library. SRSC had wide accessible paths that are great for running, biking, skating etc.
If you follow the path from the SRSC under the road to the Spanish River Library, you
can follow the accessible path all the way around a lake, enjoy free wifi on the library patio, enjoy breathtaking views from the library patio, or head onto the trails in the Pondhawk Natural Area. You can also just park in the Library parking lot so that you do not have to walk as far. There are three different trails in the Natural Area, two are rough paths and one of them is an accessible trail that would be suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. However, bikes and skates are not welcome here.
Restrooms and a Cafe are available in the Library during open hours, but the Sports Complex across the street (or under it as the case may be) also has restroom facilities.
This is an amazing place to observe nature and spend a day with the family in what is truly one of my newest favorite places!
Hiking with your family, can be an incredible bonding experience, that will build memories for your kid that will last a lifetime. Here are 5 tips on how to get started.
Tip # 1: Start out small!
It is important to know what your child is capable of. If your child is one that will not want to walk far, make sure you choose a short path. If the kids are overwhelmed the first time out, they may not want to go again. So make it short. Most parks here in the Fort Lauderdale area have shorter trails that would be more manageable for small children. You can gradually choose longer paths as your child begins to get used to hiking.
Tip #2: Give them something to do.
For younger children this may be something as simple as counting trees. For older children you can print out a few pictures of native plants, trees or birds so that they can treat the hike like a treasure hunt. National Parks, State Parks and County Park websites usually have lists of the Flora and Fauna that are live in the parks so you can make sure to choose pictures that the children will be able to find.
Tip #3: Be prepared for weather.
Remember children dehydrate faster than adults do and they are far less likely to mention they are thirsty or hot when they are having fun. Be sure to put the sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and water bottles to good use and remind the kids to take a drink every now and again. Try to avoid high energy activity in the summertime during the hottest part of the day between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm.
Tip #4: Be prepared for bugs.
It is especially important to keep Safety in mind. South Florida mosquito’s can carry diseases so be sure to bring the bug repellent and wear protective clothing. Long lightweight pants and long sleeves will help to keep the pesky critters from making a meal of the family. Wear layers so these protective layers can be peeled off later. The best time to avoid the mosquitoes is winter time.Some parks even post a “Mosquito Report” at trail heads, so you can call ahead.
Make sure to follow your hike with something the kids will enjoy. A little picnic with some favorite snacks on a blanket, or a swim in the ocean will give the children something to look forward to and reason to finish the trail. Many Local South Florida parks like Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale and John U Lloyd Beach Park in Dania Beach have playgrounds, picnic table are on the beach and have nearby parking so it would be easy to return to pick up swim gear and a picnic basket. With a little planning, hiking with the family can be very rewarding and lots of fun for all. So get out there and hike South Florida!