View Full Version : Day hiking with a 4 year old

03-26-2007, 21:07
I have adopted my daughter, and will take her on her Spring Break from Pre-K here in Cobb County GA.

I've planned on taking her to see the wild ponies up in the Grayson Highlands. She is a pretty good little walker babe, easily keeping up a 1-1.5 mile pace for an hour or 2 at a time. My hope is to either stay in a campsite up near the AT section, maybe as far south as Rhododendron Gap, but probably just around Massey Gap.

My question is, I'm and Dad and she is a little girl. Are there cabins for rent in the area I should consider, or just see if Fox Inn is available for a night or 2 and drive up there? Or should I just go ahead and break her in as a Hiker-Babe and teach her how to do her stuff in the woods.

Just wondering.....

03-26-2007, 21:23
Hey, OB,

My daughter did her first overnighter when she was 4, and did the Mt Rogers loop when she was 5. That said, she'd been day hiking and car camping since age 2, so she was okay with being in the woods (and all the related "stuff").

Has your daughter been camping before -- spending a night in a tent in a strange place (not the backyard)?? I'd be cautious about going to Mt Rogers in April for a first-time camping experience, for any number of reasons -- the potential for very bad weather to start (though I know you would check that first).

You're the only one who knows her and has all the information, but I'd think about making her a day-hiker-babe first.

Good luck, and have fun. That's my favorite place on Earth.

03-26-2007, 21:24
I have adopted my daughter, and will take her on her Spring Break from Pre-K here in Cobb County GA.

First of all, a hearty congrats OB!!! As the father of 4 daughters, I say - WELCOME TO THE CLUB!

A few weeks ago I interviewed a Child Psychologist who also happens to be a hiker and a member of the NC Bartram Trail SOciety and the Nantahala Hiking Club. She had some great advice. She said, don't pick a destination. Just take the child out in the woods and near some water. Let them play in & around the water and be creative.

To listen to the full interview, you can click here - http://americanhiking.chattablogs.com/archives/045978.html

03-26-2007, 21:24
After re-reading my post, I'd like to clarify that my suggestion would be Fox Hill Inn or someplace similar.

03-27-2007, 05:54
Well, she is very good at the day hiking thing. She is shy on the overnight camping experience in a tent. My thoughts were possibly to go to Ginny's (Lazy Fox Inn) in Damascus and drive/day hike up to see the ponies. I've offered to take her in our tent, and she likes the idea --- but that could change between Atlanta and a long drive. Following our trip to the hills, I'm taking her to see her Grandma in central Carolina before returing home.

Looking at the Grayson Highlands website, it looks like there may be cabins along the lines of Amicalola Falls. Anyone with experience on that?

BTW, she is half of my second crop of kids. Life if full of surprises and always fun.

03-27-2007, 07:33
Life if full of surprises and always fun.

Ain't that the truth.

You could bring the backpacking stuff and leave yourself the option once you get there. If you wanted a fairly gentle overnight, park at Massey Gap (in the backpacker's lot), and follow the blue-blaze trail up to the ridge and the AT, then head nobo on the AT toward the Wise Shelter. Go a little past the shelter, cross the big creek, and camp on the other side. Plenty of great campsites above the creek, in a well-protected area, and you'll have some great places to explore. All of this is maybe two miles from the car, with a nice climb and descent but not too long or steep. There are fewer horses down this way, though they are there at times.

03-27-2007, 07:45
I love Wise Shelter in summer with the blueberries in the area. But I'm thinking Massey Gap and walk a bit south, maybe as far as Rhododendron Gap, but camping by the dirt road/horse trail just out side Massey Gap area heading outside the state park.

There are a couple of fire rings in the area, and water available nearby. I've seen ponies in the area many times.

03-27-2007, 12:42
Or if the ponies aren't the objective you could take the Creeper Trail out of Damascus......and camp along the river....
Whatever you decide I'm sure it'll be an adventure for her. I've been in a few "outdoor" situations, mostly boating or four-wheeling, with our grandaughter....no big deal...it'll work out!!
You'll have to let me know how you make out. I've considered taking the grandkids on an overniter...actually the 7 yr old boy is much more finicky then the 4 yr old girl.....to much Nintendo
I think the LFI would be a great place to spend some time....Lord knows she'll be well fed and looked after....
Best of luck

03-27-2007, 13:15
I'd just take her tent camping. I did that with my 4-year old son and <2-year old daughter and they loved it. Besides they are so tired at the end of a long day, that where they sleep doesn't really matter. Wait, that's how I feel!

For the kids, the 3.7oz Gossammer Gear Nightlight Torso pad worked great. Ultralight and more than enough support for them.

Midway Sam
03-27-2007, 13:19
I adopted two boys at ages 2 and 11mos. I started backpacking with them at ages 6 1/2 and 5. Our first trip we did an easy 6 mile day, camped and then a moderate 6 mile day. They did great and loved it. The 6 1/2 year old carried a pack with a sleeping bag in it and his own water. The 5 year old carried a small hydration pack with 1L of water.

The secret was frequent stops and an encouragement to explore and "get dirty".

TJ aka Teej
03-27-2007, 13:29
Congrats OrangeBug!!!
Our kids were all doing overnights by that age. A few things stand out as important to pass along:
Be ready to abandon goals. You might start out to hike into a pond, but she might think that little brook a half mile from the trailhead deserves several hours of exploration.
Be ready to carry all the gear. (And maybe her too...)
Practice pooping in the woods before you go out into the woods. Not pooping on your boots is an important skill to learn!
Backyard camping is the best way to break-in kids and gear.
Have a great time, OB!

03-27-2007, 13:53
That's pretty cool Orange Bug....I know you're little girl and she's a doll. She's going to have a great time. Those ponies will knock her down though....

Yes, don't forget the Creeper Trail!

She'll never forget it either.

03-27-2007, 16:34
Gracie Bug is the cutest kid I have ever seen. She's going to have a great time.

And just a reminder on that second time thing...you never get more than you can handle. :)