Babes in the Woods & Hike ‘n’ Seek Scavenger Hunts
Since 1999, Babes in the Woods is the Friends of the Fells’ popular weekday family hiking program. Caregivers and babies are welcome on these fun guided hikes through the Middlesex Fells Reservation. Babes in the Woods is an adult-paced hike designed for parents who carry their children. These hikes are not recommended for young children who walk. They meet every week, all year long, weather permitting.
Created with the graduates of our Babes in the Woods program in mind, the Hike ‘n’ Seek outings are geared towards toddlers and kids. Families enjoy nature-themed scavenger hunts that give young children the chance to explore independently, while building knowledge and appreciation for the outdoors. These hunts typically run weekly from May–September, and on school vacation weeks, weather permitting.
For both programs, we recommend that you bring along snacks and drinks, and make sure to dress for the weather—depending on the season, some trails may be muddy or icy in spots. Please note that hikes are not accessible for strollers. No dogs, please. Our walks are cancelled only if it is raining or snowing hard, or if there is a wind chill of 25° or less.
The format is drop-in and there is no fee. Pre-registration is recommended; otherwise you will be registered at the trailhead. We do ask that you agree to our short liability waiver form during the registration process. We hope you will consider supporting the Friends by becoming a member! Our Events Calendar includes all Babes in the Woods and Hike ‘n’ Seek hikes, and meeting times and locations are included in the calendar entry for each hike.
What is the difference between Babes in the Woods and Hike ’n’ Seek?
Babes in the Woods is our hike for adults who carry children during the entire hike. It runs all year round, once a week, starting from a different trailhead each week. In the summers the hike is an hour, and the rest of the year it is an hour and a half. Older children who are used to keeping up with adults for up to an hour and a half hike are welcome to join.
Hike ’n’ Seek is for families with children who are too heavy or too curious to carry. Any age is appropriate, although children around the age of 7 and up might get bored. This program runs every week in the summer (May—September) and often on school vacation weeks. It runs for about 45 minutes to an hour.
What are your hours?
Toddler-paced Hike ‘n’ Seek at 9:45 am – 10:30 or so.
Adult-paced Babes in the Woods at 11:00-12:00ish.
During the rest of the year:
Our adult-paced Babes in the Woods hike goes from 10-11:30ish.
If it is offered, the Hike ‘n’ Seek will run from 10-10:45. Both programs run at the same time.
How do I pre-register?
Just login/register here. Look for the blue register button. You can register for multiple events at once. We will check you in when you get to the trailhead. If you can’t make it, you don’t have to let us know, we know kids can be unpredictable and schedules can change at the last minute.
The weather seems iffy. Are you canceling?
If we cancel, we will do so by 8:30 AM on the day of the hike. We will make a new post on Facebook announcing the decision. We will mark “CANCELLED” on the Google Calendar, or if technology is being difficult, delete the event entirely. Wild Apricot, the web app that manages the events through the Fells.org page, should send out cancellation notices, but it is best to double-check the calendar.
If we haven’t updated, that means the hike is still on. As the saying goes, “there’s no bad weather, only bad gear.” Make sure you are ready for the weather; in New England, it can change on a dime and doesn’t always align with the forecast. If you’re not feeling prepared, then don’t feel obligated to come—we’ll be happy to see you next time!
Do you take breaks?
We do. If you need one, just let a hike leader or assistant know. If you need to breastfeed, we will stop with you (or one of our experienced mothers will help you learn how to breastfeed while walking). If you need a break for any reason, we are happy to wait with you. We don’t take scheduled breaks since many of our participants like to keep moving, but we’ll often pause at a scenic vista, or to take a group picture.
Can I take a stroller?
Not for the Babes in the Woods hikes, nor most Hike ‘n’ Seeks. Unfortunately, trails are not accessible. Some more robust strollers can navigate on dirt paths for Hike ‘n’ Seeks at Greenwood Park and Botume House. Check out Fresh Pond Reservation in Cambridge or Breakheart Reservation in Saugus for paved trails.
Can I bring my dog?
Sorry, no, some of our participants and volunteers have phobias, for their comfort we do not allow dogs.
Is my child too old for these hikes?
As long as you can carry your child for an hour and a half (an hour in summer), and they don’t get too fussy, you’re welcome to join us on a Babes in the Woods hike! We find most kids get too heavy or want to get out and explore around age 2.
Hike ’n’ Seeks are slow-paced hikes for families. Any age is appropriate, although children around the age of 7 and up might get bored.
Do you hike any other day of the week?
Not at this time. Our hikes are based on volunteers’ schedule availability. Weekends are especially difficult to secure reliable, committed volunteers. We would like to offer more programming on weekends and are looking into how we can make it happen. If you’re available on a weekly basis on another day and are interested in leading or assisting a hike, get in touch!
I’d like to volunteer, either on Tuesdays or to start hikes on another day, can you help me?
YES! Email email@example.com.
When do the regularly scheduled summer Hike ‘n’ Seek programs start each year?
The hikes usually begin sometime in May and run through September. The start date depends on many factors. First, volunteers’ schedules. Second, the weather. For example, if it’s been an especially wet spring, we will probably push back the start date of the Hike ‘n’ Seeks. Third, the DCR’s schedule. We try to coordinate with the Visitor Services Supervisor and their schedule changes a lot, too. Once we know when we’ll start, we’ll post and promote.
I don’t see upcoming hikes on the calendar…
We usually post about two months’ worth at a time. Sometimes, there is construction that influences where we have our trailheads. We’ll get to it, but it doesn’t hurt to give us a nudge via our Facebook page.
Are there similar groups in the area?
You might check out Hike It Baby. You must pay for continued membership. Otherwise, these programs are very similar to Babes in the Woods and they can be anywhere, not just the Fells.
We also occasionally partner with the Free Forest School of Greater Boston. While their format is different from our hikes, we share the same values of getting families out in nature for free.
And check out the variety of the DCR’s programs here.
How do I get in touch with you with another question?
The best way is through Facebook, but you can call our Google Voice number at (617) 334-5383 and email firstname.lastname@example.org as well.
Babes in the Woods is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Middlesex Fells, Medford Family Network, the North Suburban Family Network, the Malden/Everett Family Network, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
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