For ages 11-13, that’s usually when kids can start taking on more rigorous trails and really enjoy backpacking. It’s of course, ALWAYS better with friends at this age, so see if one can join the fun!
Be sure to go over the LNT principles
Trip 1 Day 1
Gather the backpacking gear and head to Stone Door Ranger Station. (bathrooms, picnic, water)
Take the 2.9 mile Laurel Trail to Alum Gap camp. Get set up and head out another 2.8 miles RT to explore Greeter Falls and Blue Hole, grabbing a swim if weather allows.
Pack up and head back to the ranger station, taking the easier Big Creek Rim trail (3.2) or the much more challenging 4 mile Big Creek Gulf trail that drops into the canyon and climbs back out at Stone Door.
Either route, plan to stop a while at Stone Door and enjoy the views!
Stone Door Overlook
Greeter Falls (more info on both areas in Part One, link above)
Park at Savage Gulf Ranger Station and head out toward the North Plateau Trail to Hobbs Cabin, roughly 9 miles of pretty easy walking.
Head back out to the car via the 9ish mile North Rim Trail. This is the MUCH prettier trail with lots of overlooks.
Both trails connect with the Savage Day Loop Trail near the ranger station. This is a beautiful 4.2 mile loop that is a favorite stop for many. Walking all three trails in full is an 18 mile loop all along the plateau and makes for a fantastic overnighter.
There is camping AT the ranger station with both options if another day needs to be added on either end of the trip. Both the Hobbs Cabin camp and Alum Gap have water sources nearby. Always treat water in the backcountry.