Vikingsholm “Castle” is at the bottom of a steep 1-mile trail at an elevation of over 6,300 feet. There are great views of Emerald Bay along the way, as well as little waterfalls all along the way down. (Family Trail Time’s cover photo is from this hike!) The reward for the hike wasn’t the castle for us, however. It was the bay itself! A peaceful and lovely beach, unreachable by car.
Why we love it: Our almost 4 year-old (at the time) ended up in his underwear, splashing around in the water and couldn’t get enough! He was also excited to crawl over boulders and use his “rock climbing skills” (mostly obtained from “rock walls” at playgrounds). We decided that next time we’ll bring our swimsuits, a picnic, and spend the entire day there!
For the Young Ones (ages 0-10): Our little one looked around in awe of all the trees along the hike (when he wasn’t sleeping in the Ergo on mama). Kiddos will love dashing from one little waterfall to the next, but make sure they know to “hug the mountain” on the way down and stay away from the steep drop on the opposite side. Once at the bottom the beach is a welcomed paradise, complete with picnic tables in the shade!
For the Big Kids (ages 10+): The hike has some really breath-taking views (so does the drive there!) and big kids will love swimming in the designated swim area or taking a kayak out into the bay (rentals available during peak summer hours). There are also plenty of bouldering opportunities, at both the start of the hike and down at the bottom. Plus,when it’s open, big kids may enjoy wandering around the “castle!”
Keep In Mind:
- There is a $10 parking fee, cash/check only. For us, this one’s worth it!
- This is a REALLY popular hike and parking is limited. There are additional spaces that are free along the road, but I would strongly recommend you do NOT park and walk with little ones.
- The hike is switchbacks straight down and back up. The younger (and older) crowd will likely need several breaks on the way up. Because of the grade of the trail, I would NOT recommend using a stroller.
- Boats are allowed at the beach, in a designated area. I’d recommend families with little ones settle in at a decent distance from that area.
Around the Area: If you don’t spend the day here, there are tons of hikes all around the bay! For food back in town, we enjoyed MacDuff’s Public House. The hubby tried Belhaven Scottish Ale and I sampled two new flavors of ciders for me – a blackberry pear cider and a rhubarb & elderberry cider. For dinner we shared the traditional fish and chips and the thin-crust wood-fired wild mushroom pizza. If you have just one or two well behaved kids, this is a nice “treat” for Mom & Dad. If your kids are a little more rowdy, skip MacDuff’s, and grab food somewhere else. For dessert, everyone is welcome for a treat at local ice cream spot, Aloha Ice Cream. They have ice cream, cookies, brownies, pie, and ice cream cake by the slice!
Difficulty Level: Moderate.