SHERIDAN — Keeping kids active throughout the summer as the air conditioning and task-free days lure them to the couch can be a challenge, but there are several spots throughout Sheridan County where bringing a youngster along for a day of hiking or fishing is not as challenging as others.
Whether it be the long drive up the mountains or the fear of injury and fatigue deterring young wilderness lovers from venturing out into the unknown, there are several places to choose from that are a short drive and an easy walk to reach a fishable shore or beautiful trail.
Just a short 10-15 minute drive north of Sheridan is the Kleenburn Recreation Area, a former mining camp that was cleaned-up and dedicated after three years of joint effort between the Abandoned Mine Land Division, Wyoming Game and Fish and Sheridan County.
The 80-acre site features a boat ramp, picnic tables, walking paths and stocked fishing ponds.
Families looking for an easy hike will enjoy the 1.5 miles of graveled walking paths with easy access to resting spots.
Young anglers will be likely to find success in the Acme Ponds which offer bass, crappie, trout, catfish and a little bit of everything, according to Beau Bolton, manager of the Fly Shop of the Big Horns.
“We send a lot of people out that way. Acme Ponds are especially popular for kids,” he said. “Accessibility is just a lot easier; it’s a short drive up the highway and there is a flat shore for safe footing, that’s all part of the accessibility of it.”
If you’re seeking something with a little more scenery, Park Reservoir is located in the Bighorn Mountains with the shortest access up Red Grade Road just outside of Big Horn.
This fishing spot offers brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing with several creeks feeding into the reservoir as well.
The reservoir offers some beached banks and other spots with more limited shore access, offering a great opportunity for on-boat fishing, but those looking to keep their feet on the ground can do so just a short hike up the waters in some of the more easily accessible creeks.
Sibley Lake is another mountain option, one which features a built-in fishing dock complete with benches, pole holders and guard rails, perfect for kid fishing.
Sibley does not allow access for any motorized water craft and will likely offer up brook, cutthroat and rainbow trout.
Located amidst a dense piney forest, young outdoorsmen may also see wildlife grazing and even spot a moose while catching their trout. Hiking in the mountains can be a rewarding experience complete with great views, memories and exercise, but precautions should be taken by hikers of all ages, especially children.
Some precautions recommended by the U.S. Forest Service are to choose your trail based on your physical abilities and restrictions and tell someone where you will be going.
Always carry a map and never depend on having cellphone or GPS signal.
Be aware of the weather and prepared for weather changes and don’t forget to carry water, food and a first aid kit.
Bolton also reminds hikers to use common sense.
“Look out for obstacles and areas where you could trip and fall, especially with kids,” he said. “If you’re wading out in the water, kids can slip and fall and that’s a real issue.”
He also reminds recreationists to be aware of regulations.
Young children do not need to have a license of their own but need to be with a licensed adult and anything they catch is combined with their adult in terms of catch limits.