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  • Writer's pictureDave Pidgeon

Wildflower blooms in Lancaster County

A single white trillium flower blooms in the woods
A white trillium blooms in Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve.

I noticed not long after becoming a parent how I would psyche myself out.

That was especially true after having more than one child, three in total. Before kids, I envisioned weekend days hiking trails, road tripping, visiting national parks; epic stuff, you know?

But then as with just about any parent, reality set in. Going hiking with young kids, especially babies and toddlers, is challenging. Safety, making sure you packed enough snacks, what to do in case of a No. 1 (or, God forbid, a No. 2) emergency, what about bugs, what about snakes, what about ... what about ... what about ...

What about all of that anxiety? Well, it often prohibited following through on those dreams. We as humans are programmed to often take the easier way, and the easier way through the years meant avoiding the challenge of getting the kids truly outdoors.

Flash forward to now. I've planned a long national park road trip this summer, and on a cool Spring day, I thought, why not get out with my three boys, go beyond the front door, and stretch their trail legs a little.

I chose a short hike, little more than a mile, at Shenk's Ferry, one of the premier wildflower spots in the eastern United States. It's located in a fold in the river hills, a creek slowly carving the hollow as it spills slowly to the Susquehanna River.

And what do you know? No video games, no Amazon tablets, nothing but a broad brown trail, a carpet of green, and the sprinkling of purple phlox, white trillium, and fiery columbines ... and the kids loved it.

Bodes well for the upcoming trip to Shenandoah and the Smokies. It's one hike, but like any adventure, you can't go until you take the first step.

Dave Pidgeon is a seasoned photographer and writer. He lives in Lancaster, Pa., with his three sons. You can reach him at

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