My kids love to hike, but like most kids their age, they tend to get a little bored with the monotony of the trail after the first few hundred yards. To keep it interesting, I usually try to keep them guessing about what will come around the next corner or over the next rise. When that gets old, we play guessing games about the different colors, shapes, sounds, smells and textures of the woods and wildlife around us. It's always fun, but I have to admit, it can be a bit of work to keep kids moving and not moaning down the trail.

But there are some new books out that may help. I recently purchased Shenandoah National Park Scavenger Hike Adventures by Kat and John LaFevre and took it along on a hike with the kids. The result? Amazing. The girls were constantly on the lookout for the next item on our list. On one trail, we searched out a specific rock (black lava/volcano rock.) The girls were excited when they found it ... so excited in fact that they actually took great pleasure in hearing about the geology behind that particular rock formation.

Continuing along the trail, the girls happily searched for hemlock trees, white-tailed deer, chipmunks, fire roads, a fungus, black birch trees, ferns, apple trees, bear claw marks and mountain laurel. For each item on our list, the girls learned a bit of history or biology and then took off in search of the next surprise. It was great fun for all of us!

The Shenandoah National Park hiking guide covers 14 hikes rated from easy to extreme. And it's not just for kids. It's also a lot of fun for us grown-ups who enjoy hearing about a little whimsy while hiking down a trail with a waterfall here, a cabin over there, and a beautiful peak around the corner. Step by step, the guide can show even the most experienced hikers a few things they never noticed before.  

And you don't have to live in Virginia to take advantage of scavenger hiking. The LeFevres also have scavenger hike guides for the

Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park and Rocky Mountain National Park too! 

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