9 Tips for Hiking with Kids

9 Tips for hiking with kids | happyfitmama.com

One good thing about the global pandemic and stay at home orders right now is that more people are heading outside to enjoy walking, running, biking and hiking. People are finding ways to get fresh air close to home. That is awesome!

However, last weekend when we were out on a hike, it was kind of obvious that a lot of people out on the trails were new. And a lot of those new people had kids.

Hiking with kids isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when you are first getting started. There’s road blocks at any age. From all the gear you need to take along with little babes to all the complaining that ensues with preteens to teens. So how do you turn your kids into enthusiastic hikers or at least ones that will tolerate it with minimal complaining?

Start short and slow

Don’t expect to cover 5 miles at a brisk pace for your child’s first hike. Starting off with a short distance at the child’s pace is best. Be prepared for frequent stops. LOTS of stops.

9 tips for hiking with kids | happyfitmama.com

Toss out your agenda

Let your child lead. You may want to hike for hours, but if they call it quits after 15 minutes, it’s better to head back to the car rather than force them to keep moving onward. I remember when my kid’s were around 8 months old. It took forever to pack ALL the gear we thought we’d need for our hike. We thought we’d be gone an hour or two. We hiked 20 minutes before the kid’s both let us know it wasn’t going to happen. The screaming in our ears was enough to know that it was not the best day to hike.

Be prepared

Bring a First Aid kit because there’s bound to be a skinned knee. In addition, wet wipes, tissues, lip balm, sunblock and insect repellant are just as important.

Gear up

From backpacks, hydration vests, compasses, and water bottles, there’s nothing cooler to a child than a mini version of mom or dad’s gear. Although you most likely will be the one who ends up carrying that gear in addition to your own.

9 Tips for hiking with kids | happyfitmama.com

Snacks and fluids

Hiking requires a lot of energy. When kids run out of energy, what happens? They get cranky. Very cranky. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluids and snacks. I’ve learned that you can never pack too many snacks. If you think you’ve packed enough, pack some more. And maybe even more. More is always better.

Dress properly

Make sure that you take ample amounts of clothing in case your child gets cold while out on the trail. Always bring a waterproof jacket with a hood in addition to a hat and gloves. Make sure your kids have the proper shoes. Finally, always pack a change of clothes for each child and leave them in the car for your return from the trail – chances are someone is going to be wet and muddy!

And FYI leave the white sneakers and clothing at home. It will not be white when you are done.

Stick it

Kids love sticks. It can be used for so many things – a walking stick, for bushwacking through low trees, poking at plants or as a pointer. We seem to always find the “perfect” hiking stick at least 10 times during a hike.

Have a destination

Choose hikes with landmarks, like a trail that ends at a fire tower, a lake or a waterfall. A post hike destination or treat is always a good motivator too. My kids’ seem to hike a little faster knowing that there’s a stop at an ice cream place on the way home.

Emphasize fun

The whole goal is to make sure that their experience is FUN so they will want to go again. If you make it boring and torturous to them, the complaining will be nonstop with the ultimate resistance you bring up a hike again.

In full disclosure, there will be whining. There will be complaining. Oh yes there will! But hopefully, there will also be laughter, excitement and joy in enjoying a fun experience as a family in the great outdoors.

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My Week in Workouts

My week in workouts } happyfitmama.com

My week in workouts was back on track. This week it was all about the things giving me LIFE during this odd time in our lives. Mostly, it was the life force of warm weather and sunshine that did the trick!


2.2 mile treadmill incline hike, 8-12%, 1235 ft elev gain

full body strength training

It was a gloomy, cold and nonstop rain kind of day. I had the day off from work and the kids had a vacation day from school. I don’t think we left the house all day except to take Max on a couple of short walks.

I practiced my visualization skills while trekking uphill on the treadmill. It’s not a fancy set up but it does the trick in getting my legs mountain ready.

My week in workouts | happyfitmama.com

Immediately after my trek, I hit the weights for a full body strength workout. I don’t know why it took me so long but I finally figured out that my Perfect Pull Up bar can also be used as a bodyweight incline row and tricep extension. My lats and tris were quite sore the next day thanks to my discovery!


6.25 mile trail run, 10:41 avg/pace, 430 ft elev gain

Evening flow yoga

The green moss covering rocks and trees and the wind whispering through the trees as Max and I strolled through the woods gave me life. Extra bonus that it wasn’t raining! And extra, extra bonus that my friend Jen pulled into the trailhead just as I was finishing. It was SO nice to see her in person! We’ve been keeping in touch via text but in person makes such a difference.


10.3 mile run, 9:38 avg/pace, 1312 ft elev gain

Ten miles on a Wednesday? Hell yeah when it’s a bluebird, sunshiny, warm day! The sunshine gave me so much life. Max ran the first 3 miles with me and then I dropped him off at home to head to the mega hill in town for repeats on the road and the trail up the back. I used to love this hill. It’s never been easy but lately it has been harder than hard. The always slow struggle bus to the top has gotten even slower. Although, according to Strava I was 3 seconds off my PR during one repeat. Funny because with each repeat I had to alternate run/power hike which I never used to do. Maybe that makes me faster with a little recovery? I think I need to play around with that some more.


5.16 road miles with Max, 9:04 avg/pace, 211 ft elev gain

full body strength training

evening flow yoga

My legs were a little sore after Wednesday’s long run/hill climbing session when I first started out on Thursday morning. I didn’t look at my watch at all and went by whatever felt easy. I was shocked to see my splits afterwards were a perfect progression run. I love when that happens!


6.23 trail miles, 10:36 avg/pace, 374 ft elev gain

Friday is usually my rest day but I had to work Friday night (something I haven’t done since my college years!) and early Saturday morning (another thing I haven’t done since college!). I knew I wouldn’t want to run after work on Saturday so I flipped my rest day to Saturday.

Of course, Friday was another chilly and downpour rain kind of day. The hardest part about running in the rain isn’t actually the rain. It’s getting started when you are dry and warm. You know you’re going to be soaked within minutes of starting. And then the second worst part is trying to warm up after a cold rainy run. It takes forever!

Anyway, I knew the trails were going to be a mess so I left Max at home. It’s a good thing because he would have looked more like a black lab than a yellow afterwards. I was even a mess especially since I tripped over a rock and landed knee first in deep mud. The good news is that I didn’t do any damage thanks to the mud!


Rest day!


7 mile hike with the family, 980 ft elev gain

6 mile road run, 8:30 avg/pace, 288 ft elev gain

Sunday Funday! New Hampshire has started a reservation system with some of the state parks to ensure there isn’t too much crowding and people are able to maintaining social distancing. We jumped on that when we saw that a couple of rather popular hikes near us were included.

It was a gorgeous day but the bugs were quite bad to begin with. They weren’t biting flies, just irritating. Eventually it got better…you just needed to keep moving. And the good news was that we mostly had the trail to ourselves. When we did see others, everyone was courteous with plenty of social distancing.

I’m super proud of my kids – this was their longest hike yet! They were troopers even with the nonstop bugs. We even started planning what hikes we want to conquer this summer when we can venture farther away from home.

Later in the day, I headed out for my run. My weird ways continue on. Last week I ran at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Today it was after 3 p.m. Who am I?!?! It was 80 degrees and gorgeous – I couldn’t help myself. My favorite season of running is here – I’m so ready to ditch all the layers!

How was your week in workouts?

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Trail Running Etiquette

Trail Running Etiquette | happyfitmama.com

If you read my rundown of Last Week’s Workouts, you saw I had an annoying trail run on Saturday.

I know there’s a lot of people venturing off road these days. That’s great but just because it’s off road doesn’t mean there aren’t unspoken and spoken rules. In an effort to not so “Get off my lawn!” way, I thought I’d share some basic trail running etiquette. Granted, the people that I encountered on Saturday were NOT trail runners but this applies to runners, hikers, bikers and horses.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Just because you are out with nature doesn’t mean it’s time to shut everything out with your Airpods. Staying aware of your surroundings is a safety concern. You want to be able to hear if someone (or something) is coming up behind you to be able to move out of the way. There’s nothing more annoying than being stuck behind someone with their music turned up so loud that they can’t hear you yelling, “On your left!”

Trail Running Etiquette | happyfitmama.com

Share the Trail

In the age of social distancing, this can be a little trickier especially on single track. The basics of sharing the trail means getting way off the trail to let others pass. It also means using common sense and not being a jerk by purposely speeding up so someone can’t pass you. When you have a wide multipurpose trail that is a Class IV or snowmobile trail, it’s easy to pass others with no problem. However, singletrack is only wide enough for a single user, so when two people meet on a singletrack trail, someone is going to have to yield. Here’s some common “rules” for who should yield when.

Mountain Bikes: I’ve always followed the rule of yielding to whomever is faster. A person on a mountain bike is faster than me running so I’ve always stepped aside for them except when going uphill, which sometimes means a runner is faster. I especially followed this rule when running the VT50k last year. I’d pass a mountain biker slogging up a hill and then I’d step aside on the downhill when they came flying by.

Trail Runner: If you come upon another trail runner who is running slower than you, kindly say “On your left!” before you pass to alert them. If you’re running towards each other and there is no room to pass, the runner who is running uphill passes while the downhill runner steps aside.

Horse: I’ve never encountered a horse on a trail run but it can happen on certain trails. This one is a no brainer – everyone yields to the horse since they can spook easily.

Hikers: Hikers generally are moving slower than a runner therefore the hiker yields to the runner. The same approach and alert of “On your left!” before passing is appropriate. If approaching each other, the hiker should move to the side unless the hiker is the one going uphill at the moment. The runner should then let the hiker pass by moving aside.

Sometimes trails will have signs to let you know who yields to who.

Trail Running Etiquette | happyfitmama.com

Pick Up Your Trash

This one is a no-brainer. There aren’t trash cans out on the trail so you are going to have to pack everything out with you. That means every piece of trash that you can accumulate on a run (gel wrappers, toilet paper, tissues, dog poop, etc). And if you do pick up your dogs poop, don’t leave the bag on the side of the trail for someone else to pick it up. It’s your responsibility to get rid of it!

Dog Etiquette

As a HUGE dog lover, this is still one of my pet peeves. Don’t let your dog run off leash if it’s going to come barreling at every human or canine it sees. There’s nothing fun about a dog charging full blast at you growling and barking with no human owner in sight. And it’s not fun when your dog attacks my dog on a leash and I’m the one that has to try to break it up. Not every person is a dog lover. Your dog may be friendly but you never know what can happen. If you are going to have your dog off leash, make sure it stays near you and responds to voice commands easily.

In full disclosure, I’ve been on both sides of this. I was able to run with my old dog, Cooper, off leash with no problems. He stayed with me and responded quickly to voice commands. With Max, I won’t let him off leash. He wants to run too far ahead and I don’t trust his recall yet. I would LOVE to let him off leash but it’s not the safest option yet.

Stay on the Trail

I know with maintaining social distancing, you are going to have to go off the trail at some point if you have to pass or be passed by someone. That’s ok, just step gingerly. When I say stay on the trail, that means not cutting the trail to make a short cut. If you do it once, someone else may follow and then a new trail that shouldn’t be there is formed. The new trail might cause erosion or destroy the plant habitat.

Be Nice

For the most part, the majority of people I’ve ever encountered on a trail has been super friendly. It seems that since the pandemic and stay at home orders started, a lot of people are afraid to make eye contact or say ‘hello!’ or ‘have a good day!’ to others while out on the trail. Maybe it’s because they are new to the trails and are apprehensive about their surroundings or just the world around us right now. I don’t know. Just because I have a buff over my nose and mouth as I pass you doesn’t mean I’m scary. It’s ok to respond to my ‘good morning!’ We’re in nature, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Be nice!

What trail etiquette rules would you add?

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