These Boots Are Made For Walking {Tips for Hiking with Kids}


Hiking Post 4

The valley is lush with green {after what has felt like our first ever monsoon season} and the temperatures are rising, so it’s a perfect time to lace up those boots, or tennis shoes, and head for the hills. Now that you’ve got little ones in tow, perhaps the days of double-digit mile long hikes are a thing of the past {or they never existed in the first place}, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get out there and enjoy the incredible beauty and wildlife that the Front Range has to offer. As I’m sure you well know by now, doing anything with the accompaniment of a child is a game-changer and requires extra thought, planning, and dare I say, patience. So, as an avid hiker, but one who often learns things the hard way, I present to you a handful of my best tips for hiking with kids:

1. No matter the level of their exuberance for or insistence on hiking on their own two feet, plan to carry the child at some point along the way. In other words, bring a backpack or carrier of some kind.

2. Kids get hangry and it’s accentuated in the great outdoors. Fill said carrier with snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.

3. Nothing ends a hiking adventure quicker than being unprepared for the weather and conditions. After countless scraped knees and even more tears, I now always dress my kids in pants rather than shorts for hiking. Good close-toed shoes are a must, as are layers upon layers of clothes. Ok, a sweatshirt or fleece will probably do the trick. Mountain conditions are known to be variable and can change on a dime. It’s not unrealistic to need a hat and gloves on any given day at higher elevations.

4. We live a mile closer to the sun than most people and a sun-burned nose is no fun. A sun-burned child is even less fun. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

5. Carry water with you. Enough said.

6. Where there are trails, there is dirt. Kids love dirt. Be prepared for them to get dirty and I mean dirty! Have them wear old clothes and bring wipes. Always bring the wipes, even if they’re no longer in diapers. You never know when your child’s trail potty might not end well or end by dousing your hand with the yellow stuff, hypothetically speaking, of course. Did I mention that you should ALWAYS bring wipes?

7. When you feel like you have all found your rhythm, everyone is happy, and you’ve reached the pinnacle of fun, TURN AROUND. Trust me, learn from my mistakes, and always head back to the car about 15-20 minutes before you think you’re ready. What goes up must come down and whoever hikes a mile out must hike a mile back. It is often on the hike back to the car when the fatigue hits and the meltdowns ensue. If you want to have hikers who are as happy at the end as they were at the beginning, don’t push it and opt to head back down before you feel ready.

8. Make it fun. Make it an adventure. Attempt to see nature through the eyes of your child. Go on a bug hunt, play I-Spy, have a race to the top of the hill, pause and encourage your child to use their five senses {ok, maybe not taste} to discover what’s going on around them. Hiking is fun and nature is beautiful – if you have a positive attitude, the more likely it is that the kiddos will have one too.

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Melissa is an adventurer at heart, seeking to embrace the beauty and wildness of this life with her co-adventurer and husband of 8 years, Tom. When she’s not splashing in a mud puddle with her boys, ages 4 and 5, or cleaning the remains of a diaper gone awry from the hallway walls, Melissa works part-time as a Licensed Professional Counselor, striving to empower women through her practice, Rise and Shine Counseling. Give her a mountain and some free time and she’ll find a way to play, embracing every opportunity to run the trails, ski the slopes, and bike or hike the hills. A great day for Melissa would include a pre-dawn trail run, a cup (or maybe 3) of coffee, brushed teeth, some belly laughing with her boys, a little uninterrupted (what’s that?) time to read and write, and sharing in some good conversation over a glass of bold red wine with her hubby. Her faith, her people, and her sense of humor, carry her through the peaks and valleys of this life. She attempts to chronicle the journey over at her blog,


  1. We did our first hike with our toddler this weekend, with him in a backpack carrier — it went GREAT! I would add 11 miles the first time with your little one in a carrier might be a little much – even if your little one does great, your shoulders might be a little (A LOT) tight for a few days! I also second the water– take more than you think you need, especially because children tend to spill, and snacks were our saving grace– just the thought of a hangry toddler on the side of a mountain scares me!


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