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Tips for Hiking with Kids

Okay, parents – we all know the feeling: you want to get out in the sunshine and get some exercise and go for a family hike…but five minutes in, the whining starts…and continues sporadically for the rest of the hike, creating a less than ideal situation for everyone.

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Steamboat is filled with hiking trails and we’ve got all the tips you need to have an enjoyable morning on the trails WITH the whole family!

Choose a trail that’s right for your family

If you have young children, choose a shorter, flatter trail so that they’ll be able to keep up. (Insider tip: Spring Creek is great for this – the first mile and a half is flat and easy). Older children might be able to go farther or hike up steeper inclines. (Try the Fiddlehead Trail up Buffalo Pass for a beautiful 2 mile loop). Consult an app such as AllTrails to find a trail with the right distance and difficulty level for your whole family.

Consider the gear

With young children, you might take a stroller or be wearing the baby. If you know your toddler won’t want to walk the whole way, bring the stroller for tired legs – it will allow for you to hike further while the toddler sits down and has a snack. But, a stroller will require a wider trail. Trails like Blackmere on Emerald Mountain, Rabbit Ears Trails and Spring Creek (at the beginning) are all stroller-friendly.

Check the weather

Colorado is notorious for its ever-changing weather. Check your weather app before you start and be prepared for changes. Wearing layers is a great way to do this – you can shed them or add if you go depending on how warm or cool the trail is in certain spots. In the spring, fall and winter, you might want to bring gloves and hats as well.

Bring snacks and lots of water

Bring MORE snacks than you think! Running, jumping and exploring will make kids (and adults!) of any age hungry. Pack a backpack with snacks and water for the hike. If you’re looking for a great trail mix, try Altitude Snacks, made right here in Steamboat! Make sure to take and drink a lot of water, especially if you’re not used to the higher elevation of Steamboat.

Lather up

You’ll need sunscreen no matter what season it is! Even in the winter, the strong sun reflecting off the snow can cause a serious burn. Lather up before you start and make sure to bring extra in case you need to reapply.

The sun gets really bright for little ones, so sun hats are perfect for hikes!

Distract them

We all know that bored kids are no fun to be around…and while you might think that they won’t get bored in the great outdoors, think again. Bring some kind of activity for these moments; older kids might enjoy a scavenger hunt (print them out before you start) and younger kids might like to have a toy they can play with in the stroller or a favorite stuffed animal to carry while they walk. You could also try a game like I-Spy while you hike which is great for all different ages.

Bring a change of clothes

Steamboat hiking trails often include exciting things like mud puddles! Waterfalls! Streams! Make sure to bring a change of clothes or shoes to leave in the car, especially if you have plans after the hike.

These tips, (maybe combined with a bribe or two!) will make for a great hike for the whole family.

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