I am pleased to welcome my blogging peer, Rebecca of Just Trails, to the site today. Make sure you check out her bio at the bottom of the post on where to find her! Her tips are great!
A few weeks ago I was at the library for story time with my two kids (age 7 months and 2 1/2). I mentioned to another Mom that I started a Mommy & Me hiking group that hits the trail every Wednesday morning. When I invited her to bring her kids and join us she looked me in the eye and said, “it’s WINTER, are you crazy?”
Her reaction amused me. Winter hiking with my kids is one of my favorite things to do. It’s easy, economical and I don’t have to load the car with ski’s, poles, and snowshoes!
Preparing for a winter hike isn’t all that different than preparing for a summer hike but here are just few things I’ve learned along the way.
- Dress your kids properly for the weather. It’s important for our children to have positive experiences outside and appropriate clothing can make the difference between a miserable experience or a fun adventure. Kids winter clothing can get expensive. When we work through our budget we set aside a bit of money every month so we can splurge during end of the season clearance sales. **We post lots of gear reviews on the blog to help you find the best gear out there. Spring is getting closer to watch for them to go on sale! – Amelia**
- Child carriers, Chariots and sleds are awesome, but let toddlers get out and hike too. Hiking will not only help them stay warm but walking on snowy uneven surfaces and on hilly terrain is an excellent way to improve balance and gross motor skills.
- Bring more snacks than you think you’ll need and select snacks that kids can eat easily while wearing gloves or mittens. I usually stick to granola bars and apple slices and forgo the trail mix and goldfish crackers that are staples on our summer hikes.
- Play games along the way. If it’s cold outside we like to march, stomp, hop and run to warm little feet up. We also like to look for animal tracks (right now the kids in our hiking group are convinced that snowshoe tracks come from dinosaurs). Sometimes we make “train tracks” or stomp out pictures with our boots in fresh, untouched powder. We also sing silly songs and count our strides.
- If I’m hiking with a toddler who prefers to walk I wear more layers than I would if I were carrying a toddler. Little legs move slowly, make frequent stops and get distracted easily. A cold Mom is a crabby Mom so bundling up helps me stay warm, happy and lets me enjoy the trails at my toddler’s pace.
- Have a fresh pair of socks, dry hat, blanket or sleeping bag and a thermos of warm soup, cider, herbal tea or hot cocoa in the car at the trailhead to warm cold kids up before the drive home.
- Hike often or better yet, start your own hiking group! The more that you hike with kids, the easier it gets. I’m lousy at bedtime routines, but we definitely have our pre-hike routine down.
Winter hiking with kids is not crazy. Staying inside on a nice winter morning is crazy.
What tips do you have for winter hiking with kids?
Rebecca Walsh is a native of Bozeman, MT. After serving in the Army for 8 years she moved to Laramie, WY where she writes trail guides with her husband. When she’s not on the trails she’s either changing a diaper, knitting something warm or reading something nerdy. You can visit her site at justtrails.com or chat with her on twitter @rebeccastrails
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