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Inspiration and Advice for Getting Out on Trail with Kids

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Jul 31, 2020 11:38 AM |

Time on trail with kids can create magical memories that last a lifetime. Here are some tips from members of our community on how to get out with your own kids.

Spending time with kids is always an adventure. Their energy, creativity and enthusiasm can turn any moment from mundane to magical. (Or sometimes into a meltdown.) If you love getting out on trail, bringing the kids you love along is well worth the work. Sure, sometimes the scales will tip more toward meltdown than magical, but once you get home — and in the years to come — the magic is what you’ll remember.

Over the years, many wonderful people have shared their stories and advice about getting outside with their kids. We know getting outside is one of the best ways to care for ourselves, so we thought we’d revisit the tips they shared with us over the years.

Ethan on a camping trip with the family from our 2015 article. Photo by @gabegrayum

Don't underestimate kids

Outdoor enthusiast and photographer Gabe Grayum has been adventuring with his now 13-year-old son Ethan since Ethan was an infant. Grayum firmly believes in the importance of immersing kids in the wild, and the ability of young hikers to tag along on grown-up adventures. He encourages adults to not underestimate how much kids are capable of.

Some trip reporters who are sharing their adventures with kids: moosefish, Jasper and the Girl Scouts and GoatPackin.

A group of kids looks at a brightly colored bag of candy.
A bit of candy can be motivational for little hikers. Photo by John Soltys.

93 miles with a baby 

Hiking the Wonderland Trail is an exciting accomplishment for anyone. This family, however, did it with a 9-month-old baby. It’s quite the feat, but reading their story, it seems easier than you might imagine.

A young baby in a carrier on her mom's chest on the Wonderland Trail.
This family, including baby who enjoyed a ride, hiked the Wonderland Trail together. Photo by MikeonaHike.

New baby, new way to hike 

For more about hiking with a baby, WTA employee Krista Dooley wrote about how she returned to hiking after the birth of her first daughter several. It was a slower process than she’d envisioned, and there were some bumps, but it also opened up a whole new world on trail. (Now, Krista has a second daughter and the whole families still enjoys outdoors time.)

A baby in a white fluffy suit, being held by her mom, in front of rhododendrons.
Krista was excited to begin hiking with her young daughter. Photo courtesy Krista Dooley.

They'll hike their own hike

Gisselle Pichardo was the first person in her family to take up hiking as a hobby, and she and her husband are working on getting their three daughters interested in it. It's not always their favorite thing to do, but the girls each have their own favorite things about being outside.

gisselle-and-girls_mins_anna-roth.jpgGisselle and two of her girls at the Mercer Slough. Photo by Anna Roth.

Ideas for motivation

While kids are capable of way more than we can ever imagine, it’s also true that sometimes, they’re just not gonna want to hike. When that happens, it helps to have some tricks in your pocket to encourage them along. We collected some advice from our community, including some WTA staff.

A selfie with two women and two kids.
The backpacking trips with friends were fun for everyone. Photo by Jessi Loerch.

Make a goal

When you're raising kids, it's easy to let your own big goals slip. Setting a big goal — one that sounds fun to you, now one that sounds onerous — can be a way to ensure that your own dreams don't get sidetracked. Jessi Loerch, WTA's magazine editor, set goals to camp every month for a year and then, when that was a success, to backpack every month for a year. Often, her kiddo came along, but she also often went alone. And she got out way more than she would have otherwise.