I’ve spent the summer determined to explore and adventure with my children. Staying inside makes me a little crazy, and my backyard is nothing to get excited about. The afternoon sun makes it unbearable back there, and the apple trees I planted have a few more years before they provide us with shade.
Off we go and off we explore the many different parks, playgrounds and outdoor spaces in and around the City of Prince George. Hiking with toddlers is an amazing experience.
My Hiking with Toddlers Style
When I think about hiking with toddlers, I think about getting my little people outside on the trail. Right now I have one toddler. He turned two at the end of July and he is a busy and adventurous little guy.
Readers, I wrote this post in 2017. It somehow got lost in my drafts folder and is just being published in 2018. It’s important nonetheless.
With 2 under 2, I prefer to get outside to burn off my big kids energy. Because I single mama it most days (my husband works out of town), the logistics of carrying or pushing two children is a little crazy. While I can do, it’s not my main strategy when hiking with toddlers. Instead, I opt to find toddler paced hikes and explore the great outdoors behind his little feet.
If you want to master the art of hiking with toddlers at a toddler pace check out these 6 strategies I employ every week when we hit the trail!
Hiking with toddlers is totally fun when you are prepared and ready.
Just keep going outside and they’ll fall in love.
Follow me on Instagram for the occasional realistic everyday mom styled outdoor adventure with kids.
Slow Down when Hiking with Toddlers
A hike with toddlers is an opportunity to slow down and experience the trail and the park from an entirely different perspective. It can be frustrating to hike at the pace of a toddler, but the first step is to accept the change in pace, and the second step is to embrace the change in pace.
- Be prepared for a hike with toddlers to take twice or longer to complete.
- Be prepared to not complete the hike and make it to your destination
- Remember, you got outside, your burned off some energy, and you tried. You won, no matter if you make it to the waterfalls or not.
Snacks & Water
When on a hike with toddlers you can never have enough snacks! Choose high energy snacks your toddler knows and love. I opt for granola bars and squeeze pouches because they pack well, along with bananas and cheese. Don’t forget a water bottle!
- Bonus: Keep more snacks and water in the vehicle for the return. You don’t want to pack it all, and there’s a good chance they’ll be hungry when you return.
- Pro Tip: Snacks are motivation. Sometimes, I’ll pick up TimBits or liquorice to entice my toddler down the trail or to make it to the end of the trail. Or to encourage him to get into the car seat when it’s time to go home.
War Falls North of Prince George is a great easy toddler friendly trail.
Toddler Motivation on the Trail
Much like changing your pace, how you hike might change when out with a toddler.
- My toddler is a rather self-motivated hiker, but sometimes he gets a little too caught up in something. Fun games and activities can keep them going and excited. On the hike to Greer Creek Falls we encouraged him to climb up on small rocks and stumps and jump off. We would chant “ready, set, GO!” and he would jump and run until he found another one. It took some time, but he was moving and we were getting to the final destination.
Not only will having your toddler carry his own pack lessen your load, but will also give your toddler some much-needed independence. My toddler has a small backpack I pack a few essentials in. I let him watch me pack it and he often points to it when he needs something. Pack it light otherwise you will be packing it for him.
- In his pack, you’ll find a diaper, small water bottle, and a snack. For now, that’s all he needs, as he gets stronger, bigger, we’ll add a few more things.
- I find he’s a more motivated hiker when he carries his pack, and it’s small enough it’s not a pain when he gives up.
Know Toddler Limits
Being aware of your toddler’s limits and physical abilities will help you choose trails and parks that are best suited to him or her.
- My toddler can hike a gentle grade of 1.5-2km and can do about 3-4 km of city walking before tiring out. I choose trails and walks within that expectation, or I come with a backup plan to get him out.
- Rougher trails with steps, roots, and obstacles slow us down and tire him out. I don’t expect him to go as far.
- Steep hills are tough for little feet and I avoid them.
- Water freaks me out. Keeping tabs on one child, let alone two is daunting. I typically avoid walks and trails too close to water.
Have a Backup Plan.
Not all hikes will be an amazing experience. Hiking with toddlers is unpredictable. Come with a backup plan in case you need to haul an uncooperative hiker back to the car. Because I have two kids this usually means bringing an extra carrier with me. I wrap an SSC behind my back, or tuck in the stroller (should I be lucky to have a stroller-friendly trail). When the meltdown happens up he goes!
What strategies do you use to hike with toddlers? Are your little people adventurous?