8 Essentials for Family Bike Night

Riding bikes as a family is one of our favorite outdoor activities. Just like hiking, we’ve evolved a lot this summer from both kids riding in a bike trailer pulled by my husband, to at least one, if not both, of our girls wanting to ride their own bikes. This transition has changed the distance of our rides and the gear that we need.

If you are interested in spending more unstructured time together as a family, biking is a great option. Here are a list of things to consider before heading out:

We temporarily added poms on the side of Cecy’s bike for our neighborhood 4th of July parade.

1: time

Sometimes it is a challenge to find time in our busy schedules to go on a family bike ride. It typically takes us only 15-20 minutes to go on a bike ride with our kids if we are riding around our neighborhood. I would budget 1-2 hours for a trail ride depending on travel distance and loading bikes.

2: Helmets

I’m always shouting towards my kids to put on their helmets. I want to make it second nature for them, like putting on your seat belts. I think it helps if you let them pick out their helmet in a favorite color or movie character.

3: Bikes

I don’t believe it matters what bikes you are riding on a family bike night. If you are looking for suggestions, we are happy with our bikes:

  • My husband rides a road bike that he purchased from a site called bikesdirect.
  • I have an old hybrid bike similar to this one.
  • My 4.5 year old rides a Co-op kids bike from REI like this one.
  • My 2.5 year old has a KaZam No Pedal Balance Bike like this one from amazon.

Of all of these bikes, we have been most amazed by how fast our older daughter picked up riding bikes (without training wheels) by practicing on the balance bike. Now, our little one is taking off riding the balance bike and getting better each day.

4: Bike Trailer with Connecting Pin

We have a Schwinn 2-seater bike trailer similar to this trailer. My Mom found a great deal on it at a garage sale. (I think we spent $15). We ordered an extra bike coupler like this one, so that we could easily connect the trailer to both my husband’s and my bike.

Schwinn Bike trailer

5: pack to carry phone and car keys

We’ve been using a simple drawstring backpack (like this pack) to carry our phones and car keys in. You can also purchase a bag that fits directly to your bike like this bag from REI.

6: water bottle

Keeping water conveniently accessible is the easiest way to keep hydrated. For me, that means getting a water bottle that fits into the water bottle cage on our bike.

7: Bike rack

We purchased a Saris bike rack from local bike shop Phat Tire for our anniversary present this year. This has been a great tool that allows us to go biking on trials throughout our area.

8: Proper clothes and shoes – AKA no princess dresses

My girls love dressing up in princess costumes. My oldest refused to wear t-shirts for the longest time, but I’ve convinced her that riding bikes in fancy dresses isn’t the safest idea. We were able to find some cute ‘princess approved’ active wear at Old Navy and Target. Her favorite t-shirts are flip-over sequin shirts. We also want our girls to wear good athletic shoes instead of flip flops or bare feet when they are riding their bikes. For this age, I buy Velcro which helps make sure the laces don’t get wound up in the wheels. These purple Puma’s are on sale right now at DSW, and they are adorable!

Sunglasses are also helpful when it’s bright outside and to keep bugs from flying into everyone’s eyes.

EXTRAS

Like any outdoor sport you get into, cycling and bicycling has unlimited gear to add to the experience. For example, we enjoy having a GPS watch to track mileage, but I wouldn’t consider this an essential item.

For our family, biking has created a fun bonding experience and we can see our girls’ self-confidence grow as they improve on a new skill. Biking is a good way to enjoy nature, explore our new home town, learn to communicate safety rules-of-the-road, and get some screen-free time together. Plus, it’s great exercise!

New Family – Favorite Hike: Black Canyon Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Just when I think we’ve hiked every kid-friendly trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, we find a new one and I get so very excited to try it out. Our recent hike on the Black Canyon trail exceeded our expectations. Our young girls enjoyed themselves because of the short distance and rocks to climb on, while I appreciated the unique rock formations and the mountain views.

Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

The Black Canyon trail leaves from the Lumpy Ridge trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Lumpy Ridge is located off of Devils Gulch road in Estes Park, Colorado.

Raptors

This area is known for unique rock formations which are natural habitats for raptors. When raptors make nests in the rocks, the National Park Service shuts down the trail to protect these birds of prey. When planning a trip, just be aware that the trail might be closed from spring through mid-summer.

rock climbing and trail running

The Lumpy Ridge is a popular technical rock climbing destination. You can see Twin Owls perched above the trail. We saw several rock climbers heading up with their ropes and climbing gear. This trail also seems to be a popular spot for trail running.

Twin Owls
Rock climbing for little rock climbers
Walk through aspen grove with Twin Owls in background

Views of the Rocky Mountains

This area offers expansive views of the peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Views of the Rocky Mountains from Black Canyon Trail
Rocks along the trail
‘Tree house’

There was a huge rock and tree right off the trail that my girls LOVED. They pretended that it was their tree house. This was a great spot to enjoy a water break.

We continued our hike, but soon the trail divided. The left leads to climber access trails for Batman Rock as well as The Book, The Pear, and Sundance Buttress. We were surprised to see that the trail continues all the way to Lawn Lake (9 miles).

Towards the right, there is a trail up to Lower Twin Owls and Upper Twin Owls. We decided to head back the way we came, making the total distance 1.2 miles round-trip.

National Park Service map at trail head – I added yellow highlight to show trail section we hiked on.

More hikes from lumpy ridge Trailhead

On prior trips, we’ve enjoyed hiking up to Gem Lake. Seeing our young kids, a park ranger urged us to go on the Black Canyon trail and I appreciate the suggestion. Gem Lake is a great hike, but a good portion of that hike is straight up the mountain.

Links to our posts about Gem Lake:

Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Gem Lake

Riding High in New Kid Carrier

Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park

I’ve gathered some of my favorite pictures taken during the beautiful autumn months in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fall is one of the best times to visit Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park to witness the golden aspens, enjoy the crisp-cool weather, and experience the elk rut.

Fall Festivals

The city of Estes Park has events taking place throughout the fall including the Elk Fest and the Pumpkins & Pilsners Festival. (more)

Haunted tours

The Halloween season is the perfect time to visit one of Estes Park’s most famous landmarks, the historic Stanley Hotel. The hotel offers a variety of tours, including a guided night tour where you can explore the setting that inspired Steven King’s book, The Shining. (kids must be 8+)

Crowds in Rocky mountain National park

I’m not alone in my love for fall in Rocky Mountain National Park. I recently saw a statistic from the National Park Service that said 7 of the top 10 busiest days last year occurred on September weekends.

Fall weather and road conditions

Going back through our fall pictures, I remembered that we have seen quite a lot of snow even in early October. The contrast of the bright yellow aspens with the pure white snow is striking, but snow can affect road conditions. If you are planning to drive up Trail Ridge Road, you can find information on road conditions and closures here.

Aspen lined tree leading to Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park
Trail leading to Alberta Falls
October snow - walking along Estes Park Riverwalk
October snow – walking along Estes Park Riverwalk
Golden aspens in Rocky Mountain National Park
Golden aspens
Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park looking towards Hallett Peak
Views looking towards Hallett Peak
Elk in Estes Park, Colorado
Elk in downtown Estes Park
Elk Rut season in Rocky Mountain National Park
Elk Rut Season
Fall Hike to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Hike to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
View of Longs Peak on a crisp October morning
View of Longs Peak
Autumn views in Rocky Mountain National Park
Autumn views in Rocky Mountain National Park
Sprague Lake
Sprague Lake
Sunrise from Mary's Lake resort in Estes Park, CO
Autumn sunrise from Mary’s Lake resort in Estes Park, CO
Historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

Family Hike to Bierstadt Lake Plus An Unexpected Moose Sighting

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

The hike to Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of our family’s favorite hikes. On our most recent trip, we parked at the Bierstadt Lake trailhead at 8,850 ft. in elevation.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

The trail to Bierstadt Lake is 1.4 miles each way. You can add on extra mileage by walking around the lake, which we recommend to get the best views of Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose, wildflowers

One of the benefits of walking at a toddler’s pace is the chance to notice extra details I might miss when walking on my own – like these berries and pretty wildflowers.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose, aspen

You could see the first signs of autumn. These aspens will turn golden yellow in just a few weeks.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose, elevation gain

The trail up to the lake gains 566 ft. of elevation along several switchbacks.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

Wide open views of the surrounding mountains make the climb worth the effort.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

We could also see Sprague Lake in the distance. It appeared to be glowing in the morning sunlight.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

At just over a mile, the trail levels out and heads back into the forest.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

Trail signage points out that there are several paths to get to Bierstadt Lake. Alternative routes include the Park & Ride (1.9 miles/way) and Bear Lake (1.9 miles/way). If you decide to walk around the lake, make note of the direction you came from. With so many trails, it can get confusing.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

Bierstadt Lake is beautiful and peaceful. It’s an ideal spot to take a moment to enjoy the mountain views.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

In a former post I ‘complained’ about the ducks, but they weren’t as pesky this time.

Bierstadt Lake hike in rocky mountain national park. hike under 3 miles. features mountain views, wildlife spot in rocky mountain national park, moose

After we enjoyed a snack at the lake, we headed back down the mountain the way we came. I was very proud of both girls for walking a majority of the trail on their own. I was also proud of myself and my husband for having patience when they wanted to stop and draw pictures in the dirt.

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At the very end of the hike, we saw an enormous moose walking through the forest. We were surprised, excited, and a little nervous. We picked up the girls and backed away so the moose didn’t feel threated by our presence. He eventually crossed the parking lot and street. I guessed he might be headed towards Sprague Lake, which is a spot we’ve spotted moose on a prior trip.

more articles about Bierstadt lake

Our Rocky Mountain Tot goes to Bierstadt Lake

Don’t Feed the Ducks!

New Year, New Outdoor Adventures

more articles about moose in rocky mountain national park

Moose Spotting Makes for a Memerable Morning Hike Around Sprague Lake

Peaceful Hike to East Meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

Cub Lake Trail – a Wildlife Hotspot in Rocky Mountain National Park