The Pacific Northwest has an unending supply of outdoor activities for all ages! Day hikes are an easy way to get out in nature with kids. We have learned a few things by trial and error taking our kids (now ages 3.5 and 1.5) on day hikes!
1. Make sure kids are WARM! This is the #1 mistake we have made! You are way warmer when you are the one doing the hiking effort vs just being carried in a backpack. We love toddler Columbia fleeces for spring/summer weather and REI packable down coats for fall/winter.
2. Brings lots of SNACKS! Not enough snacks/food is the #2 mistake we have made! Applesauce pouches and goldfish crackers have saved the day more than once. If kids are warm and fed it eliminates 90% of the complaining.
3. Use a good CHILD CARRIER! We typically use an Ergo when the kids are less than 6 months old and switch them to a solid child backpack after that. The child carriers have lots of pouches for snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, etc.
4. Start with SHORTER hikes, it helps to have a way out in case you do have to carry a crying toddler for over a mile (you bet we have done that!).
5. Encourage KIDS to walk/explore. We have been really surprised how far our toddlers will walk on their own – even uphill! We may be moving at a snail’s pace but the kids have a blast. We love Keen sandals for kids hiking!
6. Just get out and DO IT! Kids are going to have meltdowns at home and they are going to have meltdowns on hikes…as long as they are warm and fed there are a similar amount of meltdowns either way. Because we started taking the kids outside when they were really small they generally don’t bat an eye when we take them out now…in fact they love it!