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Easy Backpacking Destinations in Washington State for Younger Kids

Easy Backpacking Destinations in Washington for Little Kids

Sometimes it can be a little difficult finding short, low elevation, kid friendly backpacking destinations for your toddler or little one. The following is a list of easy first trip destinations for you and your little one(s) to enjoy. Be sure to check here if you have an older kid or one who wants more of a challenge.


Sheep Lake (Chinook Pass)

Sheep Lake (Chinook Pass)

Sheep Lake is one of my all time favorite backpacking destination with little kids. The route is 1.5 miles from the trailhead to the lake with a gain of 500 feet. For parents with little ones, the mile and a half may take a while, but the payoff will be golden. Plenty of campsite surround the small alpine lake and there is a nice shore for kids to splash in the water. Most summer weekends, the lake is surrounded with many other little kids experiencing their first backpacking trip.


Rialto Beach to Hole-In-The-Wall

Rialto Beach to Hole-In-The-Wall

If you are willing to drive a few hours, this is a perfect destination for little kids going backpacking. The hike along the coast keeps little ones captivated the entire time with crashing waves, shells and seaweed. Camping spots are found along the beach after hiking a mile and crossing over Ellen Creek. After setting up camp, head farther down the beach toward the Hole-In-The-Rock. The beach is lined with rocky outcrops showcasing tide pools filled with sea life. You and your little one will fall asleep watching stars light up the sky and waves crashing fifty feet away.


Talapus Lake

Talapus Lake

Talapus Lake is an easily accessed lake in the Snoqualmie Pass region. With its gently climbing two miles from the trailhead to the lake, the 600 feet of elevation gain seem manageable with little legs walking with you. For little kids, there is plenty to keep them preoccupied on the way to the lake such as little rushing creeks, fallen logs and small bridges.. A popular break spot sits next to a beautiful creek where many stop for snacks and pictures. Although there are only a handful of camping spots, these don't often fill as backpackers are headed farther up the trail to Ollalie Lake or Pratt Lake.


Hyas Lake

Hyas Lake

This trail had to be created with little backpacking kids in mind. Located in Cle Elum, this trail winds through a forested meadow on a very gentle trail for two miles and only 100 feet of elevation gain. After reaching the two mile mark, you will notice the lake lined with large camp site. On a summer weekend, you can hear the sounds of many happy little backpackers along the lake.


Thunder Creek

Thunder Creek

The trail along Thunder Creek has so much to offer to the little backpacker. The creek is enormous and the rocks are gigantic. The trail climbs to an elevation of 300 feet as it makes its way passing Thunder Creek. At 1.5 miles you will find camping at Thunder Camp or continue on another 3/4 mile to Neve Camp. This trail provides an easy day of backpacking in the North Cascades for the little backpacker.

6. Barclay Lake: 4.4 miles / 500 feet gain

7. Greenwater Lakes: 4 miles / 200 feet gain

8. Third Beach: 3.6 miles / 280 feet gain

9. Blue Lake (Mt. Baker area): 1.7 miles / 300 feet gain

10. Independence Lake: 1.6 miles / 680 feet gain

11. Mirror Lake (Snoqualmie Pass): 2.2 miles / 870 feet gain

12. Icicle Creek: 4 miles / 100 feet gain

13. Cutthroat Lake: 3.8 miles / 400 feet gain

14. Slide Lake 2.5 miles / 300 feet gain

35 Easy Backpacking Destinations in Oregon

Here is a quick reference to 35 Easy Backpacking destinations in Oregon. For this article, easy is considered a maximum of 5 miles to the destination or halfway point, therefore ten miles round trip and less than 1000 feet of elevation gain. Each of these destinations list the roundtrip miles followed by total elevation gain. These are listed in no particular order.

  1. Memaloose Lake: 2.6 miles / 665 feet gain
  2. Mirror Lake:2.9 miles / 780 feet gain
  3. Frog Lake: 3 miles / 100 feet gain
  4. Hart’s Cove: 5.8 miles / 800
  5. Lucky Lake: 3 miles / 470 feet gain
  6. Marion Lake: 5.4 miles / 510 feet gain
  7. Bobby Lake: 4.6 miles / 100 feet gain
  8. Shellrock Lake: 3.8 miles / 280 feet gain
  9. Betty Lake:  miles / 442 feet gain
  10. South Waldo Lake: .5 miles / 0 gain
  11. Canyon Creek Meadows: 6.5 miles / 900 feet gain
  12. Square Lake: 4.4 miles / 200 feet gain
  13. Opal Creek: 7.2 miles / 280 feet gain
  14. Larison Cove: 4 miles / 0 feet gain
  15. Paulina Lake: 7.5 miles / 195 feet gain
  16. Olallie North Loop: 5.6 miles / 955 feet gain
  17. Fish Lake/Si Lake: 5.8 miles / 805 feet gain
  18. Pansy Lake: 2.4 miles / 500 feet gain
  19. Marilyn Lakes: 2 miles / 200 feet gain
  20. Bear Lake (near Mt. Defiance): 2.6 miles / 480 feet gain
  21. Veda Lake: 2.8 miles / 660
  22. Muddy Fork: 6.2 miles / 800 feet gain
  23. Erma Bell Lakes: 5.5 miles / 250 feet gain
  24. Boulder Lakes: 6.1 miles / 910 feet gain
  25. Goodman Creek: 4 miles / 300 feet gain
  26. Serene Lake: 6.6 miles / 900 feet gain
  27. Clackamas Riverside Trail: 7.8 miles / 600 feet gain
  28. Hand Lake: 1 mile / 0 feet gain
  29. Linton Lake: 3.8 miles / 300 feet gain
  30. Timothy Lake: 2.2-5 miles / 200 feet gain
  31. Trillium Lake Loop: 1.8 miles / 45 feet gain
  32. Bagby Hot Springs: 3 miles / 200 feet gain
  33. Rainie Falls: 3.6 miles / 700 feet gain
  34. Rosary Lakes: 7 miles / 800 feet gain
  35. Islet Beach: 2.5 miles / 0 feet gain

Easy Backpacking Destinations in Washington for Older Kids

Easy Backpacking Destinations in Washington for Older Kids

Sometimes it can be a little difficult finding easier kid friendly backpacking destinations for your older kids (think 8 years and older). The following is a list of easy first trip destinations for you and your kids to enjoy. Be sure to check here if you have an younger kid or one who wants less of a challenge.


East Bank Baker Lake

East Bank Baker Lake

Baker Lake Trail, also known as East Bank Baker Lake, is a great trail for young backpackers. The trail winds along Baker Lake and you have the option of hiking two miles to the closest camp sites or continuing on for a total of 4.5 miles to the last campsites. With a minimal gain of 500 feet, your little one will enjoy cruising along on this trail crossing bridges, hopping over streams and taking breaks next to the lake.


Tubal Cain Mine

Tubal Cain Mine

Tubal Cain Mine and the Buckhorn Wilderness is one of my favorite places to take beginner backpackers. This trail system is packed with a B-17 crash site, mines, mining equipment and trails that lead to some impressive mountain summit views. Camp sites sit below the Tubal Cain Mine along the Copper River, 3.5 miles and 700 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead. The turnoff to climb up hill to check out the crash site is about a quarter mile before the camping area. Follow the trail across the river and traverse across a mountain trail to panoramic views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains.


Ipsut Creek Campground

Ipsut Creek Campground

Backpacking along the old road of Mt. Rainier's north entrance along the Carbon River is one of the best beginner backpacking destinations. With the campground being a former car camping destination, tent platforms, privies and bear boxes are available. From the Carbon River Ranger Station to the Ipsut Creek Campground is 4.9 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain. After setting up camp, you will find there is plenty to explore. Ipsut Falls is only 0.3 miles farther down the trail and if you turn onto the Wonderland trail and hike another 2.7 miles, you will come to a large suspension bridge that crosses the Carbon River heads up to the toe of the Carbon Glacier.


Boulder River

Boulder River

Boulder River, a favorite beginner backpack destination in the North Cascades is 4.3 miles (one way) with 700 feet of elevation gain. A few campsites line the trail, however hiking the total 4ish miles to the end of the trail brings you to a nice campsite. Here you can safely jump in the water and cool off in the summer. This trail features a beautiful double waterfall and close up views of the Boulder River.


Lake Dorothy

Lake Dorothy

Lake Dorothy is a great short hike to a large lake filled with many campsites. Although the milage to the lake is a short 1.75 miles, the route gains 800 feet along the way. This is perfect for an older kid with the endurance for a short up hill climb. If you have the energy, you can continue on past Lake Dorothy to Bear and Deer Lakes for an extra 1000 feet gain and extra 4 miles. Alternatively, you can make Lake Dorothy a base camp and dayhike to Bear and Deer Lakes.

6. Pete Lake: 9 miles / 400

7. Ancient Lakes: 8 miles / 600 feet gain

8. Packwood Lake: 9 miles / 600 feet gain

9. Ozette Triangle: 9.4 miles / 100 feet

10. Dewey Lakes: 6 miles / 600 feet gain

11. Camp Handy – Upper Dungeness River: 7 miles / 600 feet gain

Start Here: A Guide to Backpacking with Kids

Taking a little one backpacking for the first time can seem like a intimidating or daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  Use this page as a resource to get you and your little adventurer off and backpacking. I have broken down this article into three sections: “planning”, “during the trip” and “after the trip”. If you are looking for information about backpacking with an infant click here.

Getting Started PDF:



  1. Gear Selection
  2. Clothing Selection
  3. Route Research
  4. Ten Essentials
  5. Kid’s Pack
  6. Your Pack
  7. Weather
  8. Food
  9. Backup Plans
  10. Emergency Preparedness
  11. Testing Your Gear
  12. Prepare to have fun
  13. Invite Friends
  14. Extras

During the Trip

  1. Pace
  2. Hydration/Nutrition
  3. Camp Set up
  4. Emergency Preparedness

After the Trip

  1. Unpack
  2. Evaluate
Grand Gulch, Cedar Mesa, UT


  1. Gear Selection: Outfitting an adult for backpacking can get expensive. Outfitting a kid can start to add up as well, especially since the little one is still growing. I recommend prioritizing your purchases in this order:
    • Backpack – get your little one fitted for a backpack at a gear store if possible. Deuter, Kelty, Osprey make great kid packs for little backpackers.
    • Sleeping Bag and Compression Bag- most kid bags have an adequate temperature rating, your challenge is to find compressible sleeping bags. Northface, Deuter, and Kelty
    • Rain Coat/Pants
    • Sleeping Pad
    • Other essentials: headlamp, pack cover, camp pillow, camp chair or sit pad

  2. Clothing Selection: Very similar to purchasing gear. Mimic the layering system that you bring for the region you live in. In the Pacific Northwest, we experience a lot of moisture with varying levels of rain and snow. We have to be ready to put on and take off may layers. My kids always backpack with a minimum of waterproof rain coat, water proof rain pants, fleece and long underwear. This allows them to not get too cold in the evenings or early mornings. Additionally, they always carry fleece gloves and a warm hat.

  3. Route Research: Choose an easier route. I usually advise picking a route that is half the distance of what your child is comfortable hiking. For example, if your little one can dayhike to the top of Mt. Si (8 miles, 3200′), choose a destination that is no more than 4 miles and 1600′ gain. This will allow you set a good benchmark for future trips.

  4. Ten Essentials: You probably already know what the ten essentials are if you have gone backpacking or hiking. If not check out WTA’s page on the ten essentials. Look over your ten essentials and evaluate their usage on the trail with a little one. What do you need extras of? For me, my first aid kit was lacking some kid-needed items like Spiderman bandaids, Afterbite, and a burn gel. Trust me, Spiderman can make the difference between a happy hike and a complete meltdown. For an in depth look in a first aid kit with kids in mind, click here.

  5. Kid’s Pack: In general, it is advised that a kid’s backpack, with all its contents, weigh less than 20% of the child’s weight. This is a small number unless you are an super ultra light PCT thru-hiker! If your seven year old weighs 60 pounds, the recommended pack weight is 12 pounds or less. Depending on the gear you have, your child may only be carrying a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, change of clothes, snacks and water. The picture below is what my 8 year old carried when she weighed 58 lbs. This backpack weighed 13lbs.

  6. Your pack: Everything needed – kid’s pack = Your Pack. The reality is in order for your little one to have a fun, enjoyable backpacking trip, you will need to carry everything else. I promise the the sore muscles will be worth it when you see how much fun your little one experiences. It’s up there with child birth. Pro tip – leave some extra room in case you need to absorb some of your little one’s items if their backpack becomes too much. Another option is to have a plan of attaching a child’s pack to your pack.

  7. Weather: Monitor the weather forecast and make sure child is comfortable on a less than desirable destination. A rainy forecast can really dampen the mood. I have learned rain, very cold temps and very warm temps seem to make a child’s backpack weigh so much that they have to slow down or stop completely.

  8. Food:  Your little one will probably not want to eat protein bars all weekend long. When it comes to meal planning, have our little one give some input. There is a fine balance between bringing food that is prepared, nutritional, lightweight and kid approved. Test recipes or prepackaged meals in advance. I once mistakenly brought Mountain House Chicken Fajita Mix on a trip and I never saw such sadness while eating. Fortunately, I was able to convince them of its protein value was worth their displeasure and promised to never buy it again.

  9. Backup Plans: Have a backup plan. We all have off days and your little one is no exception. He may not hike as fast or as far as usual and you may have to improvise. As you map your route, take note of backup camp sites, those that require less miles or effort along your planned trail. On a recent 13 mile trip with my kids, we had the option of camping at mile markers 3, 4.5 and 6.

  10. Emergency Preparedness: Have a means of communicating if something doesn’t go according to plan. This could be leaving your itinerary with someone or carrying a locator beacon like a Spot or DeLorme InReach. For more thoughts on managing an emergency with children, click here.

  11. Test Your Gear: Is that tent still waterproof? Does my sleeping pad stay inflated? Does my little one’s rain jacket still fit? Can this meal be prepared on my camp stove and does it even taste good? Spend some time setting up gear and trying out the equipment that you will have on your trip. A dry run on camp setup will eliminate concerns and anxiety of the upcoming trip. It’s nice to discover beforehand what need to purchase, find, or fix before your feet hit the trail. On a side note, junior gear test assistants are always more excited for the “big trip”.

  12. Prepare to have fun: This is an exciting time. Bring a camera. Seeing your little one exposed to nature, camping under the stars, and surviving the wild wilderness together are memories that you will both share forever.

  13. Invite friends: Invite a family along with you and your little one. Having other adults along allows for adult conversation and allows for an extra eyes on the kids. Kids enjoy hiking with their friends. When they do, they tend to spend more time talking to each other and less time thinking about tire legs or how heavy their backpack is.
  14. Extras:
    • Pack extra toilet paper and wet wipes…..trust me!
    • Pack extra socks, if the trip is for one night, pack two sets of socks in the pack.
    • Bring some form of entertainment (as if you are not carrying enough). Pack a Kindle, deck of cards or a book for each of you.

During the Trip

  1. Pace: Monitor the pace. Are you going too fast or is your child going to slow? Find the sweet spot between going fast enough but not so fast that your little one is not enjoying the trip or having to stop and rest more often. I recommend scheduling break time. With older kids, we will typically hike for fifty minutes and then take a five or ten minute break. With younger kids, we will typically hike for thirty minutes with a five minute break.

  2. Hydration/Nutrition: Remember to encourage your little one to drink fluids and eat snacks along the way. Here are a couple tips:
    • Have water readily available. This could be a bladder hose or water bottle carried in hand or attached to hip belt of backpack
    • Have a snack available. I like to have each kid pick out a snack and place into pants pocket.
    • Use regular hiking breaks to ensure kids are eating and drinking.
    • Dehydration is the most common reason a kid becomes sluggish or tired on a trail.

  3. Camp Set Up: Kids love to set up camp.Teach them the basics: selecting a good camp site, setting up the tent, setting up the kitchen, and how to use the stove or filter water. The more a little one feels empowered the more she will enjoy the experience.

  4. Emergency Preparedness: Develop a “Someone is hurt” plan, especially if you are the only adult. What should your kid do if you get hurt? What if you are unconscious or you have broken your leg? It is highly unlikely that anyone is going to get hurt, but it is nice to have talked about procedures so that you little one knows how to respond. My guidance on short overnight trips goes something like this: “If I get hurt, and I can’t respond, pull out the locator beacon and push SOS button then stay together and walk through the other campsites looking for an adult to inform. If you cannot find an adult, stay together and head back toward the trailhead. You will either pass hikers that can help or will find help at the trailhead.” This is just what I do, but each family should establish their plan based on the capabilities and comfort of the kids.

After the Trip

  1. Unpack: You are tired and it has been a long weekend. Don’t forget to unpack your pack and your little one’s pack. Decompress those sleeping bags. Empty that bear canister. Check all the pockets on all your and your kid’s coats, pants, and backpack to make sure there are no half eaten protein bar or gummy bears. Dry out anything that may have gotten wet.

  2. Evaluate your trip: What worked out great? What wasn’t the best choice? How much fun was that trip? Doing this may make the next trip that much easier. My first backpacking trip with kids: They were 2 and 4 year old and the route was 10 miles/2500′ gain in September and it snowed on us that night. Afterward, I had A LOT to evaluate…next trip was 7 miles/400′ gain in July.

Hopefully, reading this eases any concerns and helps solidify your plans for the big adventure with your little adventurer(s). If you have additional comments, questions or tips you want to share, email me. I’d love to hear from other backpacking parents.

Don’t Count Wet Wipes to Cut Base Weight with Kids

My son and I planned a 5 day route in the North Cascades that would include summiting three technical peaks. Therefore, not only were we packing for 5 days in the backcountry with 16 pounds of food, but we were adding helmets, ice axes, crampons and a half rope. After getting everything packed for the two of us, my pack weighed 55 pounds. Had I been on this adventure with someone else, I could have reduced my weight to 31 pounds by sharing half the tent weight and not carrying all the food and my son’s climbing gear.

So I sat there trying to figure out how to cut weight……after all, ounces make pounds. I minimized as best I could and by the end I came up with this idea of counting out how many wet wipes and pieces of toilet paper we would need for five days. To put in to another perspective, I determined a mom and her 8 year old son would only need two wet wipes and six pieces of toilet paper per day for five days……10 wet wipes and 30 pieces of toilet paper. I still laugh to this day. What was I thinking??!!!

So, this failed. Miserably. Within the first day. What was I thinking? Could each person really reduce themselves to three individual pieces of toilet paper for each day? Does a child even go to the bathroom without using at least half a roll of toilet paper? Without the extra TMI details, we ran out of supplies mid-way through day 2….so 3.5 days remained without wiping/cleaning supplies. Fortunately, we had linked up with another backpacking couple. I was able to trade route/terrain knowledge and water filter usage for toilet paper and additional wet wipes.

As parents, we know we are hauling 80% of all the gear and usually the weight is more than we are accustomed to hauling down the trail but heed to this advice, don’t count wet wipes to cut weight.

Glitter Bandages….A Requirement

First aid kits are like pizza (or donuts)! We all like pizza, but we may not agree on the crust, the toppings or how it is cooked but we all agree that we like pizza. We all agree that we need a first aid kit of some sort but we may have differing ideas of what we should have. You may want to carry the defibrillators, but I’m going to take my chances and leave them at the doctor’s office. I carry one kit when I’m out with friends on climbs and a completely different one when out backpacking with my kids.

What’s in my First Aid Kit in order of probable use:

Band-Aids: Not just any bandage, but ones with a character or glitter. When your child gets the slightest thorn prick and follows it with a death curdling scream…..Mickey Mouse wrapped around a finger can heal a wound faster than any triple antibiotic and hugs combined. I pack 8 of these miracle workers.

Liquid Bandage: When Mickey Mouse is no longer cool, the wound is usually more concerning. I have found sealing a good cut factors in to the success of the rest of your time outdoors. I started out with gauze and medical tape, but those seem to become reminders of the painful wound and become pulled off or get too dirty.

Benadryl: Having an antihistamine with you can save the day. My son is very attracted to anything willing to sting him. He was stung at least three times over the summer on trails. He is not allergic, thankfully, but the sting can be really uncomfortable. I keep a half dozen in my kit and it usually last a year.

After-bite: I’m not even sure if this stuff works but after each kid gets bit or stung by something, I squeeze a little cream on the point of attack and it seems to really work miracles. Aloe Vera is one of the main ingredients so it probably does decrease the pain.

Pain relievers: Anti-inflammatories/head ache relievers…..the most used up item in the Kit. Those knees need some extra love because you are carrying your entire family’s gear for three days. I base my count on who will generally need them/what their usual dosage is times how many days are we going to be backpacking.

Tweezers: I debated on whether this should be higher up on the list. Tweezers are a life saver or sanity saver….afterall, kids + woods=splinters.

Burn Cream: Kids will find a way to need this….usually the camp fire or the stove. I carry two in my kit, just in case 1 packet isn’t enough or you just need another packet for the same wound the next day.

Triple Antibiotic: Kids will be kids and at least we can attempt to prevent further infection. I carry 2 in my kit, but find myself often replenishing.

Hydrocortisone: Kids will explore and rub up on everything. I carry 2 in my Kit.

Gauze Pads: Little ones may unfortunately need blood leaking managed. We have also used them as sterile wipes to clean a wound. I carry 4 in my Kit.

Stretch Bandage 2″ X 4 yards: It is light weight and could prove to be useful given the right misadventure. I carry 1 in my Kit.

Antiseptic Towelette packets: These are useful in keeping the wound clean as you are dressing it. I keep 2 in my Kit.

Elastic Wrap: I have never had to wrap my own child’s ankle or needed to stabilize bones in place, but when the time comes, I’ll be ready. I keep 1 in my kit.

Moleskin: Another miracle worker….at least for me. I have been on some longer outings where one of the kids needed moleskin, but I too need it on the more demanding routes.

Multitool: I use the scissors part of the multitool to cut any of the necessary bandages instead of packing the medical scissors my kit originally came with….just cutting weight.

Safety Pins: I keep these around for practical uses when administering first aid.

Duct Tape: It fixes everything. I have even used it to cover my son’s feet when his boots were no longer waterproof and taped up a cut when we ran out of bandaid and didn’t have liquid bandage.

There are many other products you can add to your first aid kit based on your family’s uniqueness, how concerned you are, and how much weight you are willing to carry. At one point, diaper rash cream was part of my Kit when the kids were still in diapers. I found REI’s First Aid Checklist really thorough if you need more ideas.

One last piece of advice…..First Aid Kit storage. Remember, Mickey Mouse and Spider Man will save the day, so keep the first aid kit easily accessible. Most people keep it at the top of their packs. I, personally, find putting it in the lid of one of my child’s backpack (or in his/her pack) to be the most efficient. With the first aid kit in their pack, you can easily access it without having to pull your pack off if you don’t have to.

Selecting Routes ~ Less Is More

For some, selecting a shorter or easier route for kids might be an easy decision. For me, it was not.  My decision making went like this:

“This is our annual family backpacking trip and we need to hike the farthest to get to the best destination as possible. I’m sure the kids can handle ____ miles/day and carry ____  pounds of gear.”

It only took me one 3-day trip turned 2-day trip to learn my lesson.

We decided to hike Colchuck Lake, in the Central Cascades of Washington during Labor Day weekend. The hike itself is 4 miles to the lake with an elevation gain of 2300 feet. This is a beautiful region of the state. My kids were 2 and 4. My oldest could carry a small pack that contained his sleeping bag and my youngest could barely walk, it seemed. We started down the trail at noon. After, 6 long hours of little feet trying to climb up and over ridges, through boulder fields and countless switchbacks, we arrived at camp. The sun had gone down, the temps dropped to around 45 degrees. We set up tents in the dark while the kids cried about being cold and hungry. We became stressed as the trip seemed to be crumbling with sad kids. We all quickly ate dinner and jumped in our sleeping bags and fell asleep.

We awoke to a freezing morning, literally. It was 30 degrees and it had begun to snow in the mountains surrounding our campsite. We all stood around the Jetboil waiting on hot chocolate to warm up. The desire to go explore the area was almost gone. After we warmed up a little, we all went on a short hike around the lake. The kids were still cold and not too excited. On our way back to camp, we discussed the weather conditions and the fun factor. The decision was made by 10 am. to pack up all the gear and head back down to the car. The hike out was just as difficult as the hike in. The kids were tired from the day before. We arrived at the car around 5 pm and headed to a hotel.

While there is a lot more I learned from this trip that I’m not going to write about in this post, but here are some of the things I did learn:

  • The kids were not nearly as excited as I was about getting to a cold lake in September.
  • The kids spent all of their backpacking time walking instead of enjoying, experiencing, playing, exploring, digging, observing.
  • The route was tough and tough was not the goal. Fun was the goal and I failed.

I have learned over time to tone down the hike. As an adult, I enjoy the challenge of getting to the destination, but kids enjoy the journey, the big rocks, tall trees, filtering water, running back and forth over bridges, splashing in creeks. Their “destination” is just hanging out with family in the outdoors.

The following year when the kids were 5 and 3, our annual backpacking route was two flat miles to the destination. This kids still talk about that trip and how much fun they had.


Backpacking with an Infant

IMG_9753Logistically speaking….what a challenge. I came up with this great     idea to go backpacking Labor Day weekend with the family….the whole family….which included a nine month old. I chose an ambitious destination with a very easy “fall back plan” base camp.

However, the biggest challenge was packing everything we needed for four days of backpacking, with the parents carrying the group gear and one parent would not be carrying the usual 60 liter pack. Instead, one parent would carry a baby carrier pack. This left one parent to carry (two sleeping bags, sleeping pads, food,tent, all group gear and anything the other two kids needed beyond their change of clothes, sleeping pad and sleeping bag.

In addition to reorganizing gear that needed to be packed, several infant specific items needed to be accounted for:

  • 4 days X 5 diapers = 20 diapers
  • package of baby wipes
  • Diaper rash cream
  • individual packets of baby formula 1.5 packet X 5 feedings/day X 4 days
  • individual 4 oz. containers of mashed carrots, sweet potatoes, peas and applesauce 4/day X 4 days
  • Baby bottle
  • Bottle cleaning brush
  • Dish Soap
  • Extra clothes

All of that seemed to fit in the zip on 10 liter back pack that zipped onto the back. Underneath the child carrier is a small storage area. I was able to squeeze in 1 compressed down adult sleeping bag, diapers, water proof coats and puffy coats.

As challenging as this was, we made it happen. The child carrier and the 60 liter each weighed about 45 lbs. each. It was well worth the extra weight in order to bring the entire family and enjoy four days of alpine backpacking.