A few months ago, I went hiking with my friends to a spot that I wouldn’t call kid-friendly. There were slippery logs, switchbacks, steep drop-offs and whatnot. It was easier for us adults to handle as it was an adult-paced hike and it forced me to think how families who go on such trips manage.
When you search “easy trails “on the web, they don’t consider a 20-pound baby and how it would affect the trail. Taking the age of your children into account is the first step to planning a good trip.

Carrying infants

As parents of infants, it is important to take into account that you have to carry them all the way to the end of the trail, even if you take turns. The mothers’ body might not be as strong as before so new parents need to be prepared physically as well as mentally before embarking on such an adventure. However, an upside to carrying infants is that they usually fall into a deep slumber as your body moves and sways, which rocks the baby to sleep.

Introducing crawler to the trail

Mud and dirt are the primary concern of parents with crawlers. As you plan a hike, try to look for one with a 5-to-7-mile stretch so that you can let your kids down from the carrier every half hour or 45 minutes so they can stretch their legs. Try to look for trails that have a little climbing slope and more flat spaces so your kids can crawl for some time, leaving your hands free and giving you the opportunity to change their diapers, have a snack, etc. As the babies are less than 6 months old, they are probably not that fast, so they won’t go too far.

Taking wobbly toddlers walking.

When your kid is between the age of 18 months and 3 years, it is hardest to pick the right trail for hiking. The kids are faster and you don’t want them to lose their adventurous spirit so look for flat and straight paths, slow sloping hills or trails with minimal drop-offs. You can also go to natural preserves and seize the opportunity to teach your kids about the plants and animals. Make sure you don’t choose a hike more than 2 or 3 miles long, as it would be difficult if the kids have a meltdown and it takes too long to reach back to the car.

Hiking with primary school kids

Children above the age of three have a better understanding about the risks, they understand that hiking can be dangerous and keep close. However, you should look for safe trails with a distance between 3-5 miles which have railings along cliff areas, bridges, switchbacks and not many slats with wide gaps. Make sure you choose a trail that is less crowded and pick the days that are not the busiest. The pre-K kids are a lot more curious and wander off easily so look for trails with an attraction that would make them stay focused on reaching the view, waterfall, lakes, etc.

Towards the end, some general things to keep in mind are: take along a muslin cloth or a light umbrella to protect the babies in case of a change in weather; carry binoculars, collapsible nets to catch tadpoles or butterflies and remember these are very short-lived stages in life and this way you are teaching your kid to start appreciating the outdoors, so enjoy these moments to the fullest.