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Norway: Home of the Giants

Norway's Jotunheimen National Park bristles with glacier-clad peaks amid northern Europe's highest mountains, but a five-star hut system makes it a place you can bring your kids. And mom.

5 More Family Hikes
Adventure zones everyone will love

Table Mountain National Park, South Africa
Get close to wild penguins, climb one of Africa’s most famous highpoints, and stay in your own hut on an overnight loop past secluded beaches, all within an hour’s drive of Cape Town. First, summit Table Mountain by your route of choice (options range from cable-car to the strenuous Hiddingh-Ascension scramble). Then drive south to the Boulders Beach penguin colony, with a sheltered shore perfect for letting little ones play. Top off the adventure with the 21-mile overnight on Cape of Good Hope Trail, with an option to have your group’s bags transported to your six-person hut if the distance seems long.

Banff, Canada
Head north for some of the most dramatic scenery in the Canadian Rockies, and a perfect launching point for adventures in every direction and season. For a good multiday trip in the park’s picturesque backcountry, hike eight miles to Egypt Lake via Healy Pass. Stay two nights and bring fishing gear to catch dinner. Egypt Lake offers wilderness campsites and primitive shelters, so you can choose what’s best for your crew. In late July, the area explodes with sub-alpine wildflowers; reservations are recommended.

Olympic Coast, WA
Target Olympic National Park’s 73 miles of wilderness coastline for a backpacking journey featuring
moderate daily distances, beach camping, and tide pools that kids of any age will love exploring. The nine-mile Ozzete Loop makes a perfect weekender; you’re apt to spot petroglyphs, bald eagles, sea otters, sea lions, and even humpback whales (camp on the beach at Cape Alava and/or Sand Point). As with all coastal travel, make sure to carry a tide table and know how to use it.

Bechler to Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY
You already know that America’s first national park is a playground of kid-transfixing wonders, including multi-colored thermal pools, burbling geysers, waterfalls, rivers, flower-filled meadows, and wildlife galore. Add a soak-ready backwoods Jacuzzi to the mix (Mr. Bubbles), subtract the crowds, and you’ve got the makings of the trip of a lifetime. Plan at least three nights for this 27-mile point-to-point. (Caution: Check the temperature before letting kids play; there are also plenty of dangerously hot pools in the park.)

Salzburger Sportswelt, Austria
Explore a hiker’s paradise south of Salzburg. In the summer, the area’s eight ski resorts transform the region into a smorgasbord of outdoor opportunities. On the menu: everything from lift-accessed theme hikes with kid-friendly interpretative stations (Bee Trail, anyone?) to hut-supported expeditions on mountainous sections of the 217-mile Salzburger Almenweg Trail.

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