Hiking with Kids

img_7455One of our family’s favorite activities is hiking. When we decided where to locate pre-kids, we decided on Denver since there are so many places to hike in Colorado.  In the summer of 2012, we planned one last backpacking trip before we started to try to have kids.  We saw a family hiking up the trail in the opposite direction on our last day.  Trailing far behind the rest of the family was the miserable looking father, carrying a child, plus what looked like gear and water for the others.  I jokingly said to my husband, “That’s going to be you soon!” once they had passed. We had a good laugh, but we had a lot to learn about hiking with kids. The following tips to make certain no one looks as miserable as that poor father did.

  1. Research and try on a kid carrier before purchasing one. Be prepared to spend some money.  Your hips, shoulders, rest of your body will thank you. While our kids were still little, I carried them using my soft-structured carrier. Some people still use their woven wraps to carry big kids. When they were about 10 months, though, we purchased hiking carriers. Just like a good hiking backpack, make sure you find one that will allow you to adjust the load between your hips and shoulders.

  2. Make sure your kids stay hydrated. Even living in Denver, when we go up to the mountains, the elevation affects us. If we’re feeling the elevation, the kids are too. We encourage Lily to drink water often. To prepare Juniper for the hike, I would nurse her in the car before starting, on any breaks we took, and once we were finished hiking. I didn’t use a nursing cover with my girls, so I made sure to wear a nursing tank under my hiking shirt. Now that Juniper is a year old, we bring her water too. We also bring an extra liter of water on top of what we normally bring to ensure the whole family is properly hydrated. On longer hikes, as an extra precaution, we bring our water pump.  (We split the load.)

  3. Minimize travel time. Gone are the days of waking up at 5:30, driving the two hours to Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking, then driving the two hours back home. We have found many hikes closer to home, within forty-five minutes of our house. Although the views are slightly less spectacular, everyone is much happier with the decreased travel time.

  4. Related to #3, plan your hike length appropriately. Even with frequent breaks and allowing Lily to hike on her own, our kids have about an hour and a half tolerance for hiking. Lily no longer naps, but when she did, we would try to plan to hike during naps so we could go on longer hikes. Be prepared to move slowly if you have a little one hiking on their own. Lily loves finding pine cones, sticks, rocks, and other treasures.  All the exploring greatly decreases the pace we move at.

  5. Expand your first-aid kit. When it was just the two of us, a first aid kit that only included limited bandaids, antibiotic cream, an ace bandage, and ibuprofen was sufficient. We’ve added Children’s Benadryl, extra sunscreen, emergency rain ponchos, additional bandaids, alcohol wipes, and tweezers. In addition to our expanded first aid kit, we also make sure we have a change of clothes for the girls and diapers for the baby.

Although hiking with kids is a little different that hiking pre-kids, it can be just as much fun (if not more).  Now it is not just a hobby that my husband and I share, it a favorite activity of the whole family.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

Tags: active, active family, family, hiking, kids, outdoors, preparedness

One Response to “Hiking with Kids”

  1. Sharmaine says:

    Thank you, nice read.