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The Farmington Museum's Families on Foot program highlights hikes around the Four Corners that families can take together. Jon Austria/The Daily Times

Families on Foot program highlights trails around the Four Corners that are conducive for hiking with children of all ages

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series that highlights popular outdoor activities that anyone — from a novice to an expert — can try out. Stories will publish on the last Thursday of each month this year. If you have a suggestion or a story idea, email City Editor Maggie Wegrzyn at mwegrzyn@daily-times.com.

BISTI/DE-NA-ZIN WILDERNESS — Hiking with children can be tricky, but a Farmington Museum program is helping residents tackle that challenge by highlighting local hikes families can embark on together.

The Families on Foot hiking series began last year with a visit to the Crow Canyon petroglyph panels near Largo Canyon. The program is back this year, and on Saturday, three families headed out to explore the Bisti wilderness and the De-Na-Zin fossil zone.

The program formed out of an adult hiking group through the museum, said Adrienne Boggs, an education coordinator for the museum who guides the Families on Foot hikes. She thought it would be useful for the museum to also offer hikes geared toward families with children.

"It's just a way to get the kids out exploring the history of this area," she said.

All of the Families of Foot hikes tend to be short, and they focus on exploring. Boggs gives a brief history of the area before letting the children examine the land for themselves.

"They really like the scavenger hunt part of it," she said.

During the hike to the petroglyph panels last year, children searched for certain rock drawings. And at the De-Na-Zin fossil zone, they looked for fossils.

Cy Wilsey, 10, called attention to a fossilized bone on Saturday while exploring the De-Na-Zin.

While Cy enjoyed hunting for fossils, the Farmington boy was also interested in the unique rocks in the area. He said he collects rocks, storing them in egg cartons.

"The rocks around here are so different," he commented.

Boggs explained the De-Na-Zin fossil zone was once in a swamp.

"There was a flood at some point, and that's why there's so many fossils," she told the families.

Teun and Katie Fetz took their sons, Elliot, 5, and Jackson, 8, on the weekend hike to familiarize themselves with the area. The family moved to Farmington in August after Teun Fetz accepted a job at San Juan College.

"It's very interesting," Teun Fetz said about the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.  "It's almost like a different planet or world. It's very cool how nature creates art."

While the Wilsey family has explored the wilderness area before, Ingrid Wilsey said she likes the educational aspect of the Families on Foot program.

"It's nice to come out with a person who actually ... has a background in that stuff," the Farmington mother said.

When Boggs pointed out a fossil, Ingrid Wilsey said she would not have known the inconspicuous rock was actually a fossil had Boggs not shared that information.

"We would have just stepped right over that," she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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Equipment

Adrienne Boggs said a lot of the local hikes the Farmington Museum offers take place in the desert. She recommends wearing sunscreen, long clothing and a hat. 

She also it is important to bring "twice as much water as you think you'll need."

Tips for beginners

"It's all about the attitude." — Teun Fetz, Farmington

"(Bring) a lot of water, a lot of snacks and long socks or capris so they don't scrape their knees and their legs." — Ingrid Wilsey, Farmington

"Keep it short. Make sure they're as comfortable as possible and just make it fun." — Adrienne Boggs, Farmington Museum education coordinator

Three places to hike

Chaco Culture National Historical Park: Cy Wilsey and his mother, Ingrid, both highlighted Chaco Culture National Historical Park as one of their favorite places to hike. Located near Nageezi, the park features ancestral Puebloan structures and rock art. To get there, drive south on U.S. Highway 550 to County Road 7900 about 3 miles southeast of Nageezi.  

Crow Canyon: Adrienne Boggs said Crow Canyon is one of her favorite hikes to take with children because it offers a variety of trails, including short ones for young children and longer hikes for older kids. To get to the petroglyphs, drive down County Road 4450 near Blanco. Boggs recommended driving in a car with four-wheel drive.

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness: Cy Wilsey said another one of his favorite places to explore is the Bisti area. To get there, take N.M. Highway 371 south for about 36 miles and turn left onto County Road 7297. The gravel road leads to the Bisti trailhead. People can also explore the De-Na-Zin fossil zone by traveling farther south on N.M. Highway 371 to County Road 7500.  

If you go

Upcoming Families on Foot hikes: The next hike on July 30 will take hikers to the Lion's Den Trail in Durango, Colo. A tour of Francis Canyon Pueblito is scheduled for Oct. 22. Before a hike, the group meets at 9 a.m. at the Farmington Museum, 3041 E. Main St. The city provides transportation from the museum to the trailhead and back. 

Cost: $5 per family

More info: Call 505-599-1400.

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