TU Family Field Trip: Take a Headwaters Hike

We all live downstream — and what happens in the headwaters of our watersheds impacts the quality of our drinking water supply, the health of the local ecosystems, and the quality of life we enjoy.

One of the best ways to bring the concept of a watershed to life for youth is by literally tracing the path of the water that flows through your community. Take a Headwaters Hike with your kids and teach them where the rivers start and why it matters to protect them!

You can start at the river closest to your house and drive along it, noting the development and man-made impacts to the land around the river. Follow one of the larger tributaries upstream, noticing how more developed land turns to rural, agricultural, or forested land.

When you hit the start of the headwaters, take to the trail and hike along a tumbling brook or stream up into preserved and protected landscapes. Note the colder, cleaner water, the healthy sand and gravel in the bottom of the stream, and the variety of life in and along the river.

  • Ask your children questions throughout the hike.
  • Let them tell you what they are thinking before giving them the answer.
  • Ask them to stop and see what they hear, see and smell.
  • What do they notice that is different about this part of the watershed?

The following resources are great for pre-reading and watching with your children:

Editor’s Note: Youth across America continue to be impacted by Covid-19 and the way it has changed their school and personal lives. Trout Unlimited wants to help families make the most of more family time together by providing fun, educational and social distance friendly activities in the outdoors. We will be sharing a collection of activities as part of the TU Family Field Trip series.

By Jeff Yates. A Trout Unlimited member since age 11, Jeff is a passionate conservationist and avid angler who sees opportunities to care for and recover our rivers and streams at every turn. As the Director of Volunteer Operations, Jeff and his team support, train and lead the more than 420 local chapters and state councils of TU across the country and are priveleged to work with the more than 4,000 volunteers who lead them as board and committee members. An author, fly fishing guide and avid outdoors person, Jeff lives in Connecticut with his wife Kit, and step-daughters Katie and Kat as well as their three rescue dogs, Tahoe, Sparrow and Jack. When he's not at his desk - or out in the field working with volunteers - Jeff splits his time boulder hopping along small native Brook Trout streams and hiking rocky terrain.