Laurel Loop Trail at the Notch, Amherst, MA

This is one of my very favorite hikes with the kids because it's super short (.75 miles), it's a loop, so there is no whining about turning around, the trail is well kept, it's right near the Eric Carle Museum and Atkins, and if you worry about being isolated, you don't have to worry much here.

If you are hiking with a small toddler who is barely able to walk the full length, I recommend heading to the right hand side (when the Visitor Center is at your back) to start (going counter clockwise). This is the steepest part of the trail, so if you end up going clockwise you will face a steep hill when the children are the most tired.

After a rain, you'll find every color of fungus on this trail. It is lovely in all seasons, and buggy in most seasons - you really need some serious bug spray here, the poisonous stuff. I have found that the bug repellent wipes are really handy, especially for little ones who can't hold their breath and shut their eyes while you are spraying them.

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