Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Perfect Winter "Hike" with Toddlers - Great Bay Discovery Center Boardwalk Trail

Snowy Boardwalk Trail at Great Bay
I've been busy....like really busy.  Full time job, two kids (two and 10 months) and still I try to hike and explore outdoors.  As a result, I've been slacking when it comes to writing.  If I have a spare 30 minutes at the end of the day, I choose Netflix over writing, but that doesn't mean I haven't been hiking!  If you've followed me on Instagram @FreelanceAdventurer or Facebook @TheFreelanceAdventurer, you have seen that even with two under three, I've been able to get out.

One of my favorite adventures with my littles has been to the short trails at Great Bay Discovery Center.  In winter, the center is closed but the trails are open and the interactive exhibits along the short trail are perfect to keep the little legs moving.  I started exploring this area with Hike It Baby this summer and have continued going alone or with mom-friends through the winter.

Friends join us for a snowy hike.  

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure:  Boardwalk Trail at  Great Bay Discovery Center

Getting There:  The trail is located at the Great Bay Discovery Center at 89 Depot Rd in Greenland, NH. To get there, I take Hwy 16 to NH-33 and head toward Stratham.  Across from Stratham Hill Park, turn right onto Sandy Point Rd, then right onto Depot Rd.  The parking lot for the Discovery Center is just over the train tracks.  There is plenty of parking, and the lot is plowed in winter. 

Trail: In the parking lot, find the little "milk truck" and "dog house".  My kids love to play on this before the hike.  From there walk towards the main building and the tall sign with all the arrows.  From here, walk down the stairs to the trail.  
Milk Truck in Parking Lot

At this point, turn left. Up ahead is an interactive boat display.  It's the first "stop" on the hike.  Kids can climb on a gundalow, fishing boat, or row boat.  It's hard to pry them away, but I always remind them of things to see ahead.

Continue past the boats.  There will be an interpretive sign on the right that shows the trail map.  After passing a circle of stump seats, you'll start walking on the boardwalk.  At the intersection, I take my kids left to see the Wig Wam - a native American house replica.  You can definitely take the Woodland walk, but we prefer to go back to the board walk and walk the loop.  It heads out into the marsh with a bird viewing station and binoculars at a cleared area.  Even in snow, it's a fine walk!  
Playing at the boats.

We loop back and I coax my kids back to the parking lot by offering more time on the boats.  From the boats, we take the ramp trail up between the two main buildings.  A nature scape playground complete with blocks, see-saw, slide, picnic area and bridge is at the top of the trail and a great end to our visit.  In total, it is probably 0.25-0.5 miles.

Difficulty:  Easy!  My 2 year old has no problem completing this adventure.  Snow adds an extra challenge.  This week we wore snow boats and I put additional traction on my boots since I was carrying the baby. I highly recommend MicroSpikes for winter hiking.  

Wig Wam

Recommendations:

- The Discovery Center is open to the public May - September 10am - 4 pm, Wednesdays through Sundays.  The grounds are open year round but there are no bathroom facilitates during this time.  Plan ahead!

- In snow, the trail can be slippery.  See how I prepared under "Difficulty".

- If you take a right on the trail instead of a left to the boats, you actually can head down to a kayak/canoe boat launch onto Great Bay.  In the warmer months, its a great place to splash and explore.
Looking for wildlife on the snowy bay

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Don't forget your snowpants!

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