After having been up stuck indoors for so long, it’s time to introduce your kids to the magic of backpacking in the great outdoors, and with so many kid-friendly backpacking destinations, you are spoilt for choice!
The following kids backpacking trails are suited to children of various ages (6-16-year-olds) and abilities: Hanging Lake (Colorado), Upper Gorge (NY), Narrows (Utah), Pikes Peak (Colorado), Stanberry Park (Ohio), Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, and the Lily Marsh trail (Idaho).
While there are so many fantastic kiddy backpacking destinations, they are not always suited to all-aged children, and choosing the wrong trail might end in a tantrum that’s best to avoid.
So, before you have a look at my family’s favorite hiking trails, prepare your little ones for the great outdoors.
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Backpacking With Kids: What You Should Know
We all have these idyllic images of backpacking with our little ones in the great outdoors. Although, the reverse may also be true if you are not prepared. So, here are a few ways you can prepare your kids for a backpacking adventure that you can all enjoy.
Preparation Is Key
Start by taking your kids for long walks in your surrounding area so that their little legs can become accustomed to extended, 2-hour hikes.
Make it a special event by letting them wear their special little hiking boots and carrying their light backpacks, which can increasingly become heavier as they progress. They will soon equate hiking with excitement and count the days until the “big day.”
Introduce Your Kids To Backpacking When They Are Tiny
If you want to make backpacking in nature a family tradition, introduce your kids to the joy of backpacking when they are little (aged three and older).
They should know that they will be expected to walk independently and that mom and Dad will not be carrying them all the way. However, they should be allowed to rest along the way if they need to, so it’s a great way to empower them at a young age.
Pitch up a tent in your backyard or indoors, and let your little ones become familiar with sleeping in an unfamiliar setting. That way, they won’t be too wired up with the excitement on their first night in the great outdoors.
The Best Kid-Friendly Backpacking Hikes In The US
Backpacking with kids of various ages can be tricky as they all have different interests and abilities. So, here’s my carefully curated list of the best kid-friendly backpacking hikes that cater to an entire family.
The Colorado Hanging Lake Backpacking Hiking Trail For Teenagers
The Hanging Lake trail, nestled in the picturesque Glenwood Springs in Colorado, is the perfect summer-time backpacking destination for adventurous teenagers that are seasoned hikers.
While this hike is short, it certainly is strenuous! The steep, rocky trailhead is situated at the Glenwood Canyon Bike and Pedestrian path; then, it ascends to a breathtakingly beautiful pristine glimmering lake with spectacular turquoise waterfalls.
This incredible trail was miraculously left intact following the devastating Grizzly Creek fire some time ago, making it even more special.
Although you would need to purchase a hiking permit to explore this sublime trail, it is far less congested in comparison with previous years, so you will get to enjoy a peaceful outing surrounded by the bounty of nature.
The Family-Friendly Upper Gorge Trail In New York
The Upper Gorge Trail is situated in the Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, New York, which has become a popular hiking destination for families who are passionate about hiking.
The region of Ithica is one of the most hiking areas in the East. It is often likened to a scene from the iconic Lord of the Rings movie sets with its pristine gorges and incredible waterfalls where you can enjoy swimming after a strenuous hike.
The Upper Gorge Trail’s other advantage is that you won’t have to compete for space as it’s not well known. Thus, you can enjoy the serenity of the cascading Lucifer Falls viewing point and the rock-carved trails away from the maddening crowds.
The Narrows Hiking Trail In Utah: Seasoned Hiking Families
The iconic Narrows hiking trail, which meanders along the Virgin River, and through the spectacular Red Cliffs, is nestled in the heart of the Zion National Park in Southern Utah.
It’s a perfect hiking destination for families who are experienced hikers with older children who are used to strenuous hikes as part of the trail winds through the volatile Virgin River, which is renowned for flash floods.
The trailhead is located at the Temple of Sinawava, which can be accessed via the Riverside Walk; it winds upriver in a circular route back to the trailhead.
It’s a one-of-a-kind trail where you will often have to swim parts of the way through waist-high water, surrounded by the majestic beauty of the surrounding canyons.
But the best part is that your kids will not be glued to their mobile phones!
The ADA Accessible Pikes Peak Trail: Colorado Springs
Colorado has always been a much-loved hiking destination, so it’s great to know that families with ADA accessibility needs are now able to enjoy the majestic alpine splendor.
The trail starts at the picturesque ADA equipped Manitou to Pikes Peak Railway, which ascends roughly 14, 000-foot up to the majestic Pikes Peak, which is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Colorado, and now boasts a brand-new visitors center.
The Pikes Peak trail is truly special as it now offers all families the opportunity to enjoy its majestic splendor after 130 years. So, it’s no wonder that “America the Beautiful” was born on this sublime alpine peak!
The Stanberry Park Trail In Ohio: Perfect For Little Ones
Families with younger children will enjoy traversing Cincinnati’s hidden gem in the 125-acre Stanberry Park situated in Ohio.
This well-maintained picturesque trail with its concrete pathway and lush lawns meanders throughout the idyllic park, which includes a fun creek where kids can play, and their parents can enjoy some well-deserved R&R.
Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia: Family Hiking Trails
This firm family favorite in the heart of the Wissahickon Valley Park offers city slickers the opportunity to explore up to 57-mile-long trails, away from the hustle and bustle of urban living.
It is sometimes hard to believe that you are in a city as the serene trails wind through magnificent forests peaceful meadows, including the beautiful Wissahickon Creek.
The Lily Marsh Family Backpacking Hiking Trail In Idaho:
The charming short but sweet two-and-a-half-mile circular trail in the Ponderosa State Park in McCall is perfect for active little ones as it winds through stately forests and through soggy marshes and ends with panoramic views of the gorgeous Payette Lake.
Little kids love this shaded trail as it has several Huckleberry bushes dotted along the way. Just make sure that they are wearing their oldest clothes, as eating these juicy summer-time treats is a messy business!
The family-friendly Ponderosa State Park is also a great place to pitch up your tent and enjoy a little fun splashing in the Payette Lake or exploring the great outdoors.
There are so many spectacular places where you can take your kids’ backpacking throughout the US – remember that they are not all suited to little ones, and you will be good to go.
Ultimately there’s nothing more precious than watching your children’s little faces light surrounded by the sublime beauty of mother nature’s bounty.