Winter hiking with kids: 6 Tips and Tricks

Finally we have some temperatures warming here in the Northeast; 70 degrees on February 21st (not a good sign for global warming). It’s been nice to see some sunshine and have more moderate temperatures for a bit.

During this last weekend warm up (40 degrees! woo-whoo!) we took advantage of the semi-sunny February day by going for a hike with some friends. We were going to do a very toddler friendly .9 mile loop but we somehow missed the trail blaze and ended up on the long trail. Once we realized it, there was no point in turning back.

This was my first time hiking with my 3 month old. I had her in a ring sling (not my first choice for a distance hike) and my 3 year old on her own two feet. Thinking this hike was going to be a mile or less, I didn’t even bring my other carrier to tandem carry. Note to self: bring 2 carriers just in case. We ended up hiking 2.6 miles and my toddler did it all on her own to feet. She is amazing.


Here are a few bits of wisdom I would like to pass along to families that hike with children:

  1. Remember that 40 degrees in February is VERY different that 40 degrees in April. The air may feel a bit warmer and maybe there is sunshine, but old man winter still has his heavy cough; the wind can still bite at our cheeks.
  2. Don’t forget your skin. Winter air can chill our skin in minutes. If the winds picks up we can easily end up with windburn. I usually add an extra layer of lotion to our cheeks before heading outside. My favorite is to apply coconut oil. Body lotions like Lubriderm would work also. You just want to create a barrier between the elements and your skin. If you do end up with a chapped, raw, red face, soothe it aloe vera gel. Apply liberally and often until the redness is gone.
  3. Don’t underdress. Even though the sun looks inviting and promising of warmth, the clouds can move in very quickly and turn a mild day into a chilly one in just minutes. Even if you don’t start your hike wearing them, make sure you pack hats and mittens for everyone.
  4. Be aware that the trail may have ice or mud on it. Wear your best hiking shoes or put on some miro-spikes to ensure safety, especially if you are baby wearing. If you have recently had a warm up like we have in New York, the trail may be full of thick mud. There may also be running water. This particular trail had a lot of ice.


  5. Pack plenty of snacks and water. Toddlers and bigger kids burn a lot of energy on the trails. You don’t want to get stuck on a long trail without enough snacks. If you do, there will be melt downs and sit-ins of protest.
  6. Sing songs or make a game of finding the next trail marker when spirits and the will to continue hiking are waning. Give a LOT of praise to your kids, we want them to like being in nature.


Do you hike with your family? Do you have any special games you play on the trail?

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