Ask Me: Hiking With Preschool-Age Children

In Ask Me, Family Adventures, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   7 Comments


You are living the dream!  My wife and I are really enjoying your work through the magazine articles and your most recent book, keep it up.

We have two young daughters (2 and 3.5) and just relocated to the Seattle area. We are trying to have them grow up appreciating the outdoors and are getting out on the trail or snow several times a week. I am seeking your council since your kids are several years ahead and you obviously did it right. We are approaching that weird phase where the kids are getting too old for backpacks, but too young to be walking the whole trip.

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7 Responses to Ask Me: Hiking With Preschool-Age Children

  1. Fred   |  May 18, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Another thought is to go car camping in an area where you want to hike. Do the hike, come back and let the kids recharge and then just explore their surroundings. They don’t need a trail with an end point in mind to enjoy the outdoors.

    • MichaelALanza   |  May 19, 2017 at 6:59 am

      Definitely a good idea, Fred, and that’s much easier than making plans more complicated.

  2. Sarah Clachar   |  July 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Great perspective on making the outdoor excursion pint size and focusing on the long run. However, here’s another tip (for when they’re a little older). Don’t underestimate your children’s ability to farther. Remember much of the endurance/muscle power is proportional – they may have smaller muscles, but they also have smaller bodies! I’ve been amazed at how far my children could go at around 5 or 6.

  3. Adam Smith   |  April 4, 2013 at 4:31 am

    If you are doing hiking with children, then you should select the route of the hike is small or to hike in a loop that will help you back by the car or campsites. And it is also required to taking all the basic requirement of kids like sunglasses, sunscreen e and proper meal.

  4. Jason G.   |  March 7, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Chris, I have two kids similar in age (2.5 & 4) and also live in the Seattle area. The question you asked Michael is exactly something I’m currently struggling with too, so thanks for asking!

    Another thing that might be helpful is hiking with other families with similar aged kids, as the kids can distract each other, and I imagine push each other to go just a bit further (no different than how adults can push each other). I’m always looking for new hiking partners, so feel free to reach out if you ever want to do a group hike. jason (at) jasongraham(dot)me

  5. MichaelALanza   |  March 7, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Great suggestion, Betsy. We’ve had similar experiences with our kids on local trails. Thanks for sharing that.

  6. Betsy Martel   |  March 6, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Another trick that has served our family well is to revist one particular, initially challenging hike several times as the children are growing up. If you are frequently visiting new terrain the children never get a clear sense of how they are progressing as hikers. Our family, children ages 8, 6, and 3 hikes the same mountain at least twice a year. These hikes provide the children perspective on their improved hiking abilities. Along the way we remind them,”Remember last time, you need a rest when we got to that rock. Now you are able to hike right on by!” They also encourage each other. Our oldest said to the youngest on our last hike, “Don’t worry buddy; this was hard for me once, too!”

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