There are a lot of variables to consider when hiking with kids. This is true of hiking with a dog as well. But there is one thing you can count on with both — a bathroom break will be needed within the first dozen steps of hitting the trail. Never in all the years I’ve been hiking with kids, and the few occasions I’ve taken a dog, have I avoided a false start.

So I found myself amused when my 15-year-old bemoaned her foster dog’s need to poop within the first few steps of getting to the trail head at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport.

She had packed a couple of disposable bags for just such an occurrence but had hoped for a bit more time before having to deal with the smelly bag factor. But it worked out that it happened early.

She managed to remove the waste and dispose of it within minutes (hello car), despite the winter conditions and fewer trash barrels available at the park this time of year.

While the dog’s business was being picked up, my 14-year-old decided maybe she needed to use the bathroom, too.

Thankfully there is a winter bathroom option near the parking lot for human visitors who prefer to be a bit more discriminating than our canine friend. (Note: The regular bathroom building is closed in winter and the remaining outhouse option is chilly.)

Once all the business was done, we were on our way (again). And I have to admit that even though my kids are getting older, I am amused some things don’t appear to ever change.

At this time of year I usually write about all our fun adventures on the cross country ski trails. We pack our lunches and have a ton of fun flying down hills on our skinny skis and scoping out a nice spot to sit in the snow for a picnic.

Not so this winter. The snow has come and gone more quickly than a New York minute and it’s been rare that a snowy day coincides with one of my days off from the office.

But if we can’t ski right now, a winter walk by the ocean is a nice second choice.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park offers great winter hiking options. It is a well-visited trail system, so the packed snow makes walking fairly easy. It’s also well lined with trees to keep the stiff winter breezes from hitting you while you enjoy a view of the ocean.

There are several miles of looping trails around the park and plenty of animal tracks in the light snow covering to keep kids interested, and guessing, what creatures live in the area. We didn’t see many feathered friends flying in the sky, but we did hear quite a few songs in the trees.

We are never alone on the trails when we visit Wolfe’s Neck Woods regardless of the weather and time of year. On the day we visited the park there were a dozen cars — and plenty of people with canine hiking companions — taking advantage of the park. These were not nearly the number of visitors we typically see during the warmer months. So, a quiet hike on the popular trails is a real treat.

If you haven’t ventured out for a winter hike yet, do it. The cold days of winter, when dressed properly, can be a great way to enjoy the Maine State Park system with your family (humans and canines). And during this particular winter, no special gear beyond a comfortable pair of snow boots is required.

Warmer winter also means the inevitable bathroom break is a little more tolerable, too.

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