View Full Version : are my nephews old enough to hike?

04-26-2009, 10:20
So here is the deal, I have 3 nephews Brayden (4) Nick (11) and Jonathan (16). Last year, I took Jonathan on a 2 week hike in western North Carolina, and he loved it. Well he complained the first few days, but hey I was hurtin too lol. Anyways, we are going on a 1 week hike in June, and a few 2 and 3 day hikes before then. I would love to take Nick on our 1 week hike, or even an over night hike, but his grandparents, or should I say my father does not think he can handle a hike because he is small. He almost died as a baby and now he is babied. His mom is fine with him going on a hike, but she thinks I should take the 4 year old too. We are not speed hikers, but we do at least 7 miles a day, and I am not sure a 4 year old who takes a nap at noon will be able to stay on the path and keep up during a full day of hiking. I know most people would say who cares what our father says, but you don't have to deal with him lol. Oh and did I mention the 11 year old who is babied, wines and cries about everything? So, do I just take the easy route and Hike with Jonathan (16 year old), do I deal with my grandfather bitchin like a little girl and take Nick, do I even take Brayden (4), and most likely get stuck carying him on my back?

Chaco Taco
04-26-2009, 11:20
Just pick a really cool section that is easy. Carvers to Overmountain, Overmountain to 19E. Its easy, lots of views, and a fun place to stay. Its really just a matter of whether you want to deal with it. Its never to early to introduce someone to hiking IMHO. Good luck and have fun!

04-26-2009, 11:49
Jonathon, obviously no problem - he carries his full gear, plus helps little brother out a bit.

Nick, should be fine, maybe lighten his load a fair amount, but he should be able to hoof his own personal gear.

Brayden, kinda young for backpacking, especially if you expect him to carry gear. I've gone with a 5 year old and a 6 year old. The older one was great, very few complaints on a 12 day trip. His biggest complaint, only when he got a mild cold was "I miss Mommy!!" Only lasted for a short time. The younger one, however, was a different story. We did a three-day trip, hiked a total of 10 miles, and Mommy was along. He did not fare very well, and put a damper on the rest of our's trip.

Guess what I'm saying, when that young, gotta play it by ear so to speak. Some may be ready and enjoy it, others won't. Try them out with a weekend, with easy bail point. Also make sure you get Jonathan on-board ahead of time that he'll have to pitch in and help pick up any slack from his brothers, otherwise you could be in for quite a time of it. Don't just spring it on him, but stress that he's an adult, and that's what adults do if necessary. If he's anything like most adolescent boys, his pride will take over and you'll end up with a motivated pack mule, but be fair.

My only caution is not to turn it into an ordeal for any of them, or you may loose some potential future hiking partners. That would be a loss for you, but also for them if they decide this early they won't enjoy it.

Good luck and Have Fun!!!

04-26-2009, 12:48
Jonathan pretty much raises the younger 2 now. Him and I have gone on great hikes b4, but now that he is (might as well call it daddy) to his brothers, it makes it hard to go out on our own. I know he would prefer to leave the other 2 at home since he needs a break, but I think Nick is ready, brayden on the other hand is way too young for my taste, to go on a long hike. Maybe their mom will find some1 to watch the youngest and I can take the other 2.

04-26-2009, 12:51
You may want to give Nick and Brayden a test run by dayhiking with them instead of jumping right into a backpacking trip. See how Nick handles 4 or 5 miles with no pack or maybe just a bookbag with raingear and a bit of water and food. Keep Brayden's needs even more modest, maybe only a couple of miles. If they enjoy it, move up the next time to a simple section with access to bail out if the boys feel overwhelmed by some extra pack weight.

Remember that Jonathan can be a real resource when helping with the younger brothers. He will likely be excited to show what he knows. This will help you by taking away some of the stress to show and do everything for the boys and allow him to develop his own skills. Believe me, he'll become more adept by teaching skills than just practicing them on his own.

A great way to get a feel for how the boys will camp is to visit a state park and car camp. Do your dayhikes there. See how they react to camping in a confined backpacking style tent ot other shelter. From there, you can get some idea if they will be happy backpacking or if it may simply not be for them.

You may want to contact some members who routinely hike with their kids from here as well. Bulldawg routinely hikes with his son and daughter, sometimes making pretty ambitious trips. Neither of the kids is 10 yet, so it will give you some frame of reference for hiking with your nephews.

04-26-2009, 12:59
With the youngest it depends on his temperament. I started my now grown son out on an easy 3-mile in and back when he was four or five. He carried a day pack with his jacket and some toys and I carried the rest. He loved it. Realize that you have to be very, very patient and not do the drill sergeant thing, constantly pushing them. Having other kids along, even older ones will help as the little one will want to prove he can do what they can do. Sometimes competitiveness can be a good thing. :)

But I agree with others you should ease into it with the 4 year old. Do day hikes with him carrying a day pack and talk to him about the camping aspect of it, asking if it appeals to him.

PS - My son and I did a 109 mile hike when he was nine and today it is a much talked about, memorable event in his life. He's 25 now. It was a great time of bonding for us.

04-26-2009, 13:04
Jonathan pretty much raises the younger 2 now. Him and I have gone on great hikes b4, but now that he is (might as well call it daddy) to his brothers, it makes it hard to go out on our own. I know he would prefer to leave the other 2 at home since he needs a break, but I think Nick is ready, brayden on the other hand is way too young for my taste, to go on a long hike. Maybe their mom will find some1 to watch the youngest and I can take the other 2.

Well, in light of this, what does Jonathan think? You may do the family more good by giving Jonathan the break he needs, and postpone taking the brothers, or maybe do both, but on separate trips. Can be tough to set the right priorities when you have limited time, but consider that Jonathan needs some alone/kid time too. Could your Dad step in and watch the younger boys while you go?

Best of luck.

04-26-2009, 13:11
I got 2 Has for u guys lol 1 "drill sergeant" lol. I am the guy who walks 20 min then sits for 10 lol. Everytime I get to a nice spot I want to sit and enjoy it lol. My other Ha!!!! is for the ask my dad to watch them. He refuses to watch them alone, brayden can not go to his house unless Jonathan is ther to baby sit him, and Nick drives him nutty lol. I would have better luck picking up a girl in a bar and getting her to watch them lol. I figured for Nick he could use his school bag with 1 of my sleeping bags and a bivy. Not sure how much water he would drink, but I am sure he would want to carry his own, so either a soft sided 2 qt bottle, or a 1 qt aluminum botle.

Feral Bill
04-26-2009, 14:20
This would be a good time to dust off that old "expedition" backpack, as you are going to be a bit of a pack mule for a few years.

My kids started on short easy overnights at 4 and 6. I got them out on fairly hard trips by the time each was eight. At 10 my daughter did the Wonderland Trail with me. Neither is ultra strong, though the daughter has become a serious runner since.
In short, even a small eleven year old can do multi day hikes if he wants to.

As others have suggested, the younger boy may need easier trips, starting with car camping and day hikes, and the older boy deserves to get away from being "dad" sometimes.

It sounds like you are able to ignore your dad. Is there another family member who can watch the 4 year old?

You sound like a great uncle, watching out for those boys. Best of luck with their outdoor education.


04-26-2009, 14:53
Unfortunately the rest of the family is really far away. We are planning on hitting some spot in swananoah, they live in williamsburg, so it is semi close to them. Maybe I should just take them all and hit a spot on the AT. It seems like all of the AT there is close to the parkway, and the shelters are close to any spots we might park. Any suggestions would be great. My sis is trying to find a sitter, but I bet I will be taking all 3 and my parents dog since ai promissed to watch him too lol.

04-26-2009, 20:34
How great you hike with your nephews. Whatever you can do with them, be it great or small, will build memories for them.

04-26-2009, 20:45
Nothing great about it. I just like hanging out with people my own maturity level, lol.

04-26-2009, 22:49
My 3 kids hiked at all those ages, but they were close in age. I would consider three different, special, individual hiking trips

04-26-2009, 23:26
when my son was 11 we never did anything over a weekend. a four y/o I would not do more than a short overnighter

04-27-2009, 11:07
I've taken my 3 girls (2,4,9) backpacking several times and a 7 mile day would be out of the question. W/ a 4yo, 2-4 miles/day tops. Not sure what to tell you about the 11yo crier. If this his 1st trip, I'd just car camp and dayhike.

04-27-2009, 11:39
I have 3 sons, and started two of them backpacking when they were 9. (check pics in my gallery) The key to this:
* light pack! under 20% of body weight;
* short days - with children or dogs, it's not your hike, it's theirs;
* the two I started at 9 were mentally and physically tough.

Based on the limited info I have, based on your post, it looks to me like you should only take the older one for the trip you have planned, and for him, make sure his pack weight is light.

Plan some shorter trips for the 11 year old - it sounds like it might be good for him to get away from mom for a while! Plan trips that are fun - by a river, camping by a lake, etc.....

Have fun!

04-27-2009, 12:43
the older 1 has learned hi lesson about pack weight lol. His first 2 week hike, he took an 80 pound pack (12 pounds was water). He had a hatchet, machete, shovel, somethin like 40 packs of ramen, a survival knife that might as well been a machete lol. Funny thing is it just made him like hiking even more. His younger brother though, I am not sure, he has a hard time just visiting for a few days. I think children ned responsibilities, so whenever they are in town we go to their grandparents house, which always has a few chores that need doing. The 16 year old will go out and work 5 hours on his grandmothers work jeep 1 day, and 4 or 5 on the yard the next. He doesn't like it, but he does it complaint free. The 11 year, will be asked to seperate tools into the correct boxes, or pick up loose trash in the yard, or heaven forbid rake the pine needle off the driveway. Not only does he not do the work, but he cries about being asked to do anything. Funny thing is I keep trying. I know if I take him, he will complain the whole time, despite the fact that all I would ask of him is to carry a pack with a sleeping bag in it, and maybe carry a bottle of water. I think I will do it anyways, I hope I can find a spot on the AT in Swananoah that has a spot to park only a few miles from a shelter, with a scenic hike. If we only do a few miles the 4 year old will be no problem, hell I could give him a pack with all the gear he could ever want and that boy would still make it without complaint lol, but anything longer and we would have to stop for a nap lol.

04-27-2009, 14:26
Given that the oldest probably needs a break, you should consider seperate trips. I'm sure it's a trill for each of them to spend time without parents and alone with the 'cool' uncle. Having to share that with their brothers might make for a tough time. That way you can adjust the trip for each kids own personal needs. You might also want to think about bringing along a friend for the 11 year old. The 4 year old probably would enjoy camping in the back yard as much as an overnight backpack trip, so think easy and small.


04-27-2009, 14:43
Him and I have a 2 week trip planned for June, this weekend trip was for checking out our gear, including new innovations we have come up with for this year (like our alcohol jet stoves). Taking the little ones on such a small trip was just an after thought, hoping to make them hikers as well.