Hiking with kids is something I know very little about so I was thrilled when my buddy Mark started a Facebook group as a forum to help parents and their children get out hiking
He describes the group saying, “This group is here to help parents have successful hiking adventures with their kids, of all ages! I personally have an
Join the group at
One Seriously Inspiring Little Dude
I have never been so inspired by another hiker than I have been by Mark’s son Riley. We first hiked together in 2018 exploring the Ledgeview Trails, and immediately his awesome attitude and enthusiasm for hiking had us all in awe. He’s the most excited and emotionally mature
Later that summer, I raced Riley up Brunswick Mountain. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Brunswick is a 17 km trail that gains a whopping 1,465 metres. It’s one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done, and here’s this little kid asking me to race him up the steep, rooty trail. What else can you say to an enthusiastic little hiker but “of course!” So up we
According to Mark, the hike up Brunswick wasn’t without issue, but I honestly never even noticed, he’s got the situation dialled in so well. I imagine there are many parents out there who struggle with similar things – the desire to get out there with their kids, but worried about the obstacles that
Tips for Hiking With Kids
by Mark Shepherd, Creator of BC Kids Hiking Club
From time to time we all suffer when we hike with our kids. I know this very well, my son has had insurmountable meltdowns for trivial reasons at the earliest onset of hikes. I have wanted a random bear to
The one thing I have seen over and over again with my child is that enjoyment-destroying outbursts is a major potential when hiking. So here
The biggest question I ask myself is “why is my son having his current outburst.”
Is his clothing correct?
My son overheats extremely fast when active. Too much clothing is worse
Does he have access to his water?
My son will walk with his water bladder hose in his mouth half a hike, and I will refill his bladder at least once during the hike. This also means making time for constant pee
Does he have access to his food, and did I bring enough variance for him?
Eating… It is easily over looked. I know that when I personally snack all day long I do better hiking rather then fasting until a lunch spot. My son burns energy faster then I even do, so I need to take into consideration he needs access to his own food supply, on his own.
Do I have the correct footwear and movement support for my son for this hike?
Hiking shoes are expensive for growing children. I found this out rather badly. His snow winter boots were perfect for snowshoeing and hiking in winter time, but its time to buy him new shoes again this spring. Now I am looking into size 6 woman’s hiking shoes instead of the limited options of size 6 children shoes. Altho we found some really good waterproof draw string shoelaced children shoes that we haven’t had the opportunity to try on yet from MEC. Also microspikes. Hugely important. Problem again is that his feet are growing and soon his small microspikes will be useless to us, and I will have to spend another 80 dollars on new spikes. Its an investment to get outside safely.
Do we have adequate weather protection?
We hike rain or shine, some of our funnest hikes have been in horrible thunderstorms. Its so fun being in the woods when its pouring rain! My son has a light weight waterproof shell jacket and water proof shell leggings. That is the only weather protection we bring. And even in monsoons has been perfect for keeping him dry and loving his adventure. Gloves are a potential essential during rain, something that can resist the wetness as much as possible but keep his hands from bitter cold I have found has helped a lot once we are 5k down a trail and his fingers start to cramp.
Are we doing a hike he enjoys, or am I forcing him to do a hike I enjoy?
This might sound trivial, but its a HUGE part of why a child can instantly combust on a trail. My son
Am I making him carry too much for his current growth spurt?
I want my son to carry as much as he is comfortable carrying, but at the same time, I don’t want to let him off scott-free. He needs to know that it’s his responsibility to help carry some of the weight in life. The problem is last year he grew astronomically. His knees hurt constantly. Add a 20k hike to that with even 5pnds of backpack pressure. It adds up fast, good luck keeping that pack to 5pnds. Our worst outbursts were wearing snowshoes, with a full pack, in a winter storm during a growth spurt. I felt bad for him, then I felt bad there were no feral wolves around to keep him moving. Then I felt bad there were no feral wolfs around to put me out of my misery. Then I remembered, redirection…
Am I occupying his busy and excitable mind enough?
Lets be honest, not everyone enjoys walking through the woods as a means of enjoyment for their day. Our children are tailored in part to be part of the global electronic world they live in. It is hard to raise a child without some of that influence. How do we expect to remove them from their lifestyle, tell them to walk 20k, carry their own gear, and find it peaceful and fun out of the gate.
A lot of our hiking with Riley revolves around conversations capturing his current interests. Luckily for me, I share his interests as much as possible, so I know all about mine craft,
If all else fails, bring an ipod, put it in his backpack on low so he can hear it, and giggle while your son dances and sings along to his favorite songs and forgets that he is slogging up a hill.
I have succeeded with my son in some major hikes. Brunswick Mountain 15km 1800m elevation Zupjok to Alpaca 20km 900m elevation, Frosty Mountain 22km 1160m elevation, Flatiron and Needle peak, Elk to Thurstan, snowshoe Zoa, Fat Dog, Flat Iron and many more places. Most of these bigger hikes have been resounding successes because we started
My son is very conscious of his outbursts, but in the moment he is unable to moderate and manage his needs. As his parent I mitigate them before we hike, and during the hike as much as I potentially can.
My goal is to find peaceful fun in our adventure.
This will not always happen, but even when it doesn’t, its still the best day in the world spending time with my son.