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Summer Survival Guide: Hiking with Babies, Kids and Teens

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Jun 21, 2022 09:04 AM |
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Motivating reluctant kids, backpacking with a baby or knowing when your teen is ready to hike without you — here are 5 articles to help you get your kids, from babies to teens, out on trail this summer.

School-aged kids are getting ready for summer break. It's a wonderful time for kids and their adults to spend some time exploring the beauty of Washington state. But after a busy year of school, it sometimes sounds like a lot of work to get out there. If you do, however, you'll make memories to treasure — and likely enjoy a little mental boost from the many benefits of time outside. 

We want you to have a great summer, so we've pulled together some of our favorite tips, stories and how-to's to help you get started. (And if you're looking for some ideas on where to hike, we've got you covered, too.)

How to Plan for a Summer of Hiking with Kids

Three kids smile with their arms around each other, while standing on a boardwalk.
Taking a bit of time to make a list of your summer dreams will help you find the time to get out on trail. Photo by Jaime Placencia. 

While sometimes it feels like summer last forever, it also is over in a flash. If you want to make sure it doesn’t pass without plenty of hiking, now’s the time to start planning. Most schools in Washington wrap up in June. Prime hiking time. Here are some ideas to help ensure you get in some miles on trail before you blink and it’s back-to-school time.

10 Tips for Hiking with Reluctant Kids 

A collection of small toys outside of a geocache container.
Activities like geocaching might turn even the most reluctant kid into an enthusiastic hiker. Photo by Ryan Ojerio.

If your little ones aren't as enthusiastic about hitting the trail as you are, it can be a challenge. But it's worth it to find some common ground. Here are some ideas to encourage your kids to recreate outside, based on what's worked best for some of the parents in WTA's community. And, if you need some trails to go implement these new ideas, take a look at our suggestions for best trails to visit with your reluctant hiker.

Find a Basecamp for Your Adventures

Two young campers roast marshmallows over a fire.
Taking your kids to explore a new area of the state is a fun adventure for young and old. Photo by David Hattaway.

If you want to really explore a new place, it's wonderful to be able to stay nearby. Luckily, our state has a variety of beautiful options, from primitive camping spots to luxurious rentals. Take a look at some of the options out there, and get some tips on how to find the best camping spot, cabin or rental for your family

How to Go Backpacking with Your Baby 

A hiker feeds a bottle to a baby in a front carrier.
Backpacking with a baby takes some extra work, but it's worth it to share your passions with your kiddo. Photo by Loren Drummond. 

If you take your baby backpacking, you're going to have to do some extra planning and be willing to be flexible. But, the rewards are worth the effort. WTA's Loren Drummond shares her tips, including from backpacking with her own son.

When are Teens Ready to Hike Alone?  

Three teenaged backpackers hike on a trail through tall grass with trees in the background.
Teenage hikers Lynnea, Miriel and Steph hike on the Pacific Crest Trail near Wind River Road in southern Washington. The teens tackled long sections of the trail by themselves. Photo by Michael Telstad.

If your teen loves hiking, how do you know when they're ready to hit the trail without an adult? We have five steps to help you know when it's time for your teen is able to hike on their own

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