Best Hiking Baby Carrier Backpack for Petite Moms

Hiking with a kid carrier can be one of the most enjoyable phases of outdoor time with your child.  Now that my youngest is 6, my family is past this stage.  Although at the time, I occasionally pitied myself for being loaded down likka pack mule... now I truly miss these days. The days of hiking a nice long trail, without needing to turn back after .5 miles for a tired child who can't keep up. The days of knowing you are transferring a love of the outdoors to your child at a precious age.  Even as your baby dozes off for a nap in the fresh air, to the lull of mom's cadence on the trail. There are so many fantastic benefits to hiking with your child in a backpack carrier!  It's truly one of the best pieces of gear we owned for our babies/toddlers. But wait... what if your pack doesn't fit, causing you back pain and greatly hindering your enjoying of the experience?  No bueno. Calling on the [Petite!] Hiking Pros Although I've written about MY experience and tips for … [Read more...]

16 Essential Items for Your Day Hiking Gear List

Prime hiking season has arrived!  Not yet in the overnight backpacker game, my husband and I typically only tackle day hiking with kids.  It’s one of our favorite pastimes, and the best part is… it’s free!  There are definitely a few items that I’ve learned to always bring along when hiking in the mountains. This month I was participating in a sponsored campaign for BODYARMOR LYTE, and my husband and I both have really been enjoying this sports drink after hiking.  It got me thinking about my core go-to hiking list.  Those baseline things I always take in my backpack, no matter what. Day Hiking Gear List – 16 Essential Items As a result of this outdoorsy soul searching, I’ve gathered together my day hiking gear list.  I literally store these items in my backpack at all times, so they are ready to go whenever we want to take a hike.  That way I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything I may need. The beauty is most of these items are small, light weight, and don't cost … [Read more...]

Easy Family Hike in Vail, Colorado

Nestled in a valley, conveniently located right along Colorado's I-70, is the high altitude mountain town of Vail. In the winter, people flock here from all over the world for the epic skiing. But summer in Vail has it's charms too, including numerous hiking trails which offer the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking alpine beauty in a warm weather season (my personal preference over cold and snow!) Vail has done an excellent job of offering hiking information for the area - including trail maps, hiking trail descriptions, and directions on how to find the trailheads.  You can even download a copy of the Vail Hiking Guide, which is what my family used on our recent hiking expedition in the area. Easy Family Hike in Vail, Colorado We had a late start, so selected a shorter trail.  I loved how easy it was to find (literally 2 minutes from the interstate exit), and it turned out to be a fun and easy family hike:  Trapper's Run. This spring and summer Colorado has … [Read more...]

One Word That’ll Get Kids Excited To Hike

As a family, we enjoy spending time outdoors and hiking whenever we can. We've been "all systems go" on this activity for years now... until this season when my son no longer rides in the child carrier backpack.  Alas, as full of boundless energy as this kid is - he doesn't get that excited about HIKING.  Little stinker. Five minutes in to the trail:  "My legs hurt!  Carry me, mommy!" He's just not the trooper that his big sister has always been, when it comes to hiking. She used to cover miles, starting at age 3, sporting her own little mini Camelbak.  Aaaah.... good times. It's all a bit frustrating, and rather ironic, as my son is one of the most active and adventurous kids I've ever met.  What a minute.  Adventurous.  Hmmm... let's tap into some of that... So on our camping trip a week ago, I wanted to take one last hike with the kids before returning to civilization.  I find a pulloff area near a pretty red mountain and rather than ask, "Do you guys want to hike?", I say, … [Read more...]

Chasing Wild Horses

Have you ever seen wild horses... living and running free? Did you know such a thing still existed? Here in the Wild West, you *can* still find wild horse herds.  Exciting, isn't it?! (Or is it just me... the girl who used to cry herself to sleep at night, in wont of her own horse?) There are even a few dedicated sections of government owned land set aside as wild horse preserves, to protect these lovely creatures.  Located in Western Colorado, the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Refuge is one of three such ranges in the United States. Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Refuge There are a few rules to accessing and enjoying the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Refuge area, but for the most part they let outdoor enthusiasts have at it.  You can camp, hike, and horseback ride through this preserve... enjoying the scenery while you pursue your Ultimate Quest:  viewing wild horses. Horses were re-introduced (post Ice Age) to North America by the Spaniards in the 1500's.  Known as … [Read more...]

Climbing Mt. Garfield With My Brother (& Losing My Toenails…)

Towards the end of May I had talked about getting to climb Mt. Garfield with my little brother. The opportunity for a hike of this kind, and some true child-free adventuring, does not happen often these days, for either one of us. It would be my first time, and my brother's second, summiting Mt. Garfield. We were both looking forward to some adult-sibling-bonding time, spent in the Great Outdoors. Getting Paid to Hike?! So get a load of this: I got paid $500 to hike that day! A few weeks prior, I stumbled across an outdoor blog post describing how Grape Nuts was looking for 60 people who were interested in getting paid to climb a mountain, as part of their Summit Sampler campaign. Sponsored to play outside? Where do I sign up for this again? Turns out Sir Edmund Hillary had munched on Grape Nuts during his historical "first person confirmed to have reached the summit of Mt. Everest" climb, 60 years ago. To celebrate, Grape Nuts decided to have some hikers hit the trail.  … [Read more...]

Colorado National Monument Hiking With Kids

If you ever find yourself in Western Colorado, be sure to check out the Colorado National Monument.  With beautiful red rock terrain, and even some wild mountain goats running around - this is an outdoor hidden gem, with a nice variety of trails for you to enjoy hiking with kids. Colorado National Monument ~ Hiking With Kids There are two entrances to the park, an east and a west.  Currently the entrance fee is $10 per vehicle, or free with a National Parks pass.  Be sure to grab a map at the drive-by entrance station on the way in.   If you have a specific length and type of hike you are interested in, ask the ranger working the booth for suggestions of a trail. Be aware that you can't bring dogs along on the trails, even on a leash.  And bring plenty of water, as this can be a high temperature area. If you enter from the west, you'll get to pass through a couple of tunnels.  My kids always find this exciting.  (Ok... I do, too!)  After about 5 winding miles of road, you will … [Read more...]

Hiking With Babies and Toddlers ~ Child Carrier Tips

I've spent many fond hours hiking a trail, with my baby or even toddler children right along with me, in a child carrier on my back. This is an ideal activity for many reasons.  Babies and toddlers generally love being outside, and are so content when they are in motion. Hiking with them in a child carrier allows them to enjoy themselves, while you are also able to have fun and get some exercise in the process. We’ve hiked with a few different child carriers now, with a couple of different kids.  We've tried an inexpensive carrier, and a couple of higher-end styles, so can offer some feedback on each. Here are my child carrier tips and best advice from our experience in hiking with babies and toddlers over miles of terrain and with a variety of gear. (Note:  This is NOT a sponsored review post for a brand... just my authentic hiking mom advice!) When Can My Baby Start Riding in a Child Carrier? For safety reasons, it's always a good idea to check the manufacturers … [Read more...]

Nature’s Legos ~ Play Time During Kid Hikes

As grown-ups, when we go for a hike we're typically all about following the trail.  When you take your little ones along, do you find yourself constantly saying, "Com'mon!  Let's go!  Gotta stay on that trail.  We need to keep going..." But if you stop and think about it - in the world of a small person, the hike isn't about reaching a destination, or getting some exercise. It's about being there.  There.  Right there, where they find themselves at any given Nature Moment.  With cool rocks to climb, pretty weeds to pick, and tiny [insert local, crawly habitants here... for us, it's very speedy lizards] critters to chase. Or Nature's Legos to stack!     So I'm trying to learn to relax in this regard a little.  I still like to keep some forward momentum along the trail, for part of the time.  I think that's a reasonable request, and it is good for them to get some exercise. But I also let them stop and play.  Because what a marvelous playground the … [Read more...]

Moms Guide to Wearing Baby On a Hike

I am a firm believer in "Baby in a Backpack".  Babies and toddlers are generally very content when they are outside and in motion. Plus it gives mom the opportunity to release a little stress and get some beneficial, and oftentimes much needed, exercise.  Great combination, wouldn't you agree? When I was pregnant with my first child, I was thrilled to find a used child carrier backpack at a second hand store.  To this day, I don't know what brand it was.  But it was, by far, the best spent $30 baby gear purchase I ever made. If you'd like more information on child carriers, check out my post Hiking With Babies and Toddlers - Child Carrier Tips.  But here I'd like to talk about the business of mom hiking alone with a child carrier. Mom Hiking Alone With a Child Carrier - My Best Tips When my daughter was a baby (my first and only child at the time) - I was a stay at home mom, and frequently took her on hikes alone.  There were some challenges to this, for which I'd be happy … [Read more...]