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  1. #1
    Registered User JackThLion's Avatar
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    Default Month long NE section hike with 10 year old. Could use some advice :)

    Hello WB! Long time lurker here coming out of hiding to ask for a little help.

    I just got the go-ahead to plan a 3-4 week section hike next summer (likely July but possibly August) with my 10 year old. He's a great hiker and loves backpacking. Had no problem with 10 miles a day this summer when we hiked the Grayson Highlands though I admit he hasn't done longer than 4 days in a row. He did NOT want to leave the trail and has been begging me for a longer stretch... so here we go.

    I was thinking about Massachusetts and Vermont, NOBO. Does that seem like a good choice as far as being not too difficult while still being interesting? We live in NC but I will likely be driving my other children to their grandparents' house in NY so I was thinking the northeast was the way to go, since I'll already be up there.

    What kind of mileage should I be realistically planning on? 250miles over 30 days? Less? How many zeros should I be planning for? I know there are families that have thru-hiked with kids but we're not going to be able to do 15-20 mile days, especially as I usually carry a good chunk of his gear (he only weighs around 60lbs) and I have a knee that I'm working on healing. I'd like to go with the flow and not push him to do more than he can, but if there are certain "must see" areas, I want to make sure to plan our start point in a place that would enable us to see them.

    On that note, I can probably get rides to start and end points... but I always have these (probably irrational) fears of not being able to find the trailhead, especially when I'm directing other people. So, suggestions for an easy start point? (For example Damascus and Mt Rogers Headquarters were easy to plug into a GPS this summer... I get a bit nervous on back roads).

    Thank you in advance!
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  2. #2

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    Mass is fairly easy, Vermont a bit harder. 10 mile days sounds about right, but your day to day distance is mostly set by shelter spacing. Basically, you'll have to do what everyone does, play it by ear. Pick a place to start and how long you have to hike and when you run out of time, that's how far you can go.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackThLion View Post

    On that note, I can probably get rides to start and end points... but I always have these (probably irrational) fears of not being able to find the trailhead, especially when I'm directing other people. So, suggestions for an easy start point? (For example Damascus and Mt Rogers Headquarters were easy to plug into a GPS this summer... I get a bit nervous on back roads).

    Thank you in advance!
    Pic just cause it made me laugh.
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    As far as the MA-VT hike you mentioned all the major trail heads in VT up to Killington are easy to find, large gravel lots off primary roads. Between Killington and Norwich it's more back roads mostly with no parking or just a little pull off but that's a pretty short stretch. Maybe someone else can chime in on the best MA spots, that state was a bit of a blur for me.


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  4. #4

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    I don't have a lot of info, having not done any significant sections in a long time. However, I happen to be from Charlotte, live in Westchester County, NY now, and have a 10 year old son who hikes with me (well, he just turned 11). So I thought I'd say hello. We've done parts of the AT in Connecticut and found them pretty easy, even when he was only 8. You might consider starting at Rte 22 in Pawling, NY (train stops there), thru CT, and then MA into VT. I would think that would make for a fairly pleasant start. FWIW, me and my son are planning to do Pawling to the MA line when school gets out in June.

  5. #5
    Registered User JackThLion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donthaveoneyet View Post
    I don't have a lot of info, having not done any significant sections in a long time. However, I happen to be from Charlotte, live in Westchester County, NY now, and have a 10 year old son who hikes with me (well, he just turned 11). So I thought I'd say hello. We've done parts of the AT in Connecticut and found them pretty easy, even when he was only 8. You might consider starting at Rte 22 in Pawling, NY (train stops there), thru CT, and then MA into VT. I would think that would make for a fairly pleasant start. FWIW, me and my son are planning to do Pawling to the MA line when school gets out in June.
    So funny, seems most people in Charlotte now are FROM New York or up north (I am), not leaving Charlotte to go there. I don't miss the snow!

    Thanks for the tip about Pawling, NY. That might be a good place to start. Would be fun for my son to cross a couple of state lines like that.

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    It is great you are encouraging youngsters to enjoy the trail !! New England will be beautiful hiking for you and your son.

    Summertime is buggy in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Bring lots of DEET. That area is also heavily populated with deer ticks so do your research and avoid Lyme Disease.
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    Registered User LIhikers's Avatar
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    I'm going to suggest you start at the Delaware Water Gap and hike north.
    You'll have a combination of easy and not so easy terrain and resupply isn't a real big problem.
    For a finish, it's about 255 miles to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin where there's swimming, canoeing, beds, and pancakes for breakfast made by the caretaker.
    It would make for a great end of hike celebration.
    Just my 2 cents.

  8. #8
    Registered User JackThLion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LIhikers View Post
    I'm going to suggest you start at the Delaware Water Gap and hike north.
    You'll have a combination of easy and not so easy terrain and resupply isn't a real big problem.
    For a finish, it's about 255 miles to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin where there's swimming, canoeing, beds, and pancakes for breakfast made by the caretaker.
    It would make for a great end of hike celebration.
    Just my 2 cents.
    Thanks, I'll look into that as well. I had heard Pennsylvania was really rocky with not much to show for it... but I don't remember if that was just someone's opinion or what.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by donthaveoneyet View Post
    I don't have a lot of info, having not done any significant sections in a long time. However, I happen to be from Charlotte, live in Westchester County, NY now, and have a 10 year old son who hikes with me (well, he just turned 11). So I thought I'd say hello. We've done parts of the AT in Connecticut and found them pretty easy, even when he was only 8. You might consider starting at Rte 22 in Pawling, NY (train stops there), thru CT, and then MA into VT. I would think that would make for a fairly pleasant start. FWIW, me and my son are planning to do Pawling to the MA line when school gets out in June.
    I was about to give similar advice, if you are not dead set on starting in MA, I would suggest starting at the CT/NY line and going north. The route 22/A.T. train station trailhead in Pawling NY is very GPS friendly and you can't miss it driving by. CT is relatively easy but has two beautiful sections, the Housatonic river walk and the Bear mountain/sages ravine section that starts south of the CT/MA border.

    Just to give you some warning, CT and MA are both "designated sites only" camping, so you have to plan to camp at the official campsites or shelters (there are tent sites in all shelter areas as well). I am not sure what the rules are in VT.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by LIhikers View Post
    I'm going to suggest you start at the Delaware Water Gap and hike north.
    You'll have a combination of easy and not so easy terrain and resupply isn't a real big problem.
    For a finish, it's about 255 miles to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin where there's swimming, canoeing, beds, and pancakes for breakfast made by the caretaker.
    It would make for a great end of hike celebration.
    Just my 2 cents.
    This could be a very good trip plan as well. Which ever you choose, make sure to stop by Upper Goose pond cabin, it is one of the highlights in southern NE
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  11. #11
    Registered User JackThLion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    I was about to give similar advice, if you are not dead set on starting in MA, I would suggest starting at the CT/NY line and going north. The route 22/A.T. train station trailhead in Pawling NY is very GPS friendly and you can't miss it driving by. CT is relatively easy but has two beautiful sections, the Housatonic river walk and the Bear mountain/sages ravine section that starts south of the CT/MA border.

    Just to give you some warning, CT and MA are both "designated sites only" camping, so you have to plan to camp at the official campsites or shelters (there are tent sites in all shelter areas as well). I am not sure what the rules are in VT.
    Good to know, thanks!

  12. #12
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    First off, good on you for getting out there with your son! My 10 year old son just finished the AT this summer with his big sister, my wife and I. He started sectioning when he was 6. Like you we carry his food but he carries his clothes, water, sleeping bag and a few bits. Pack sizing has been an issue as he's grown though it sounds like you've got that down with a 4 day hike (you'd start to notice things that rubbed the wrong way or were uncomfortable by then). 10mpd sounds about right for starting out. Keep in mind that 1. You don't HAVE to go any particular distance each day. In fact, it can be more fun to work together to pick a goal and then see how you feel when you get there. and 2. If you are out for a month you will be going significantly faster without trying by the end. Plan to have the option of going further than you think because you find it enjoyable to go further (i.e. hey Dad, it's noon and we reached our goal, can we keep going a bit further?).

    I'll also second the advice of others to head south and start in DWG. The first few miles will be rocky like Pennsylvania but this gives way to much nicer tread and some decent ridge running. You'll get to nip off the entire state of NJ, NY, probably all of Connecticut and maybe most if not all of Massachusetts. Upper Goose Pond is a must stop and you can go deli to deli through basically all of New York. There are awesome campsites and shelters with awesome views, a monastery that lets hikers camp, campgrounds, hostels, a zoo you hike through, a riverwalk or two, the longest boardwalk on the AT and so much more that your son will enjoy.

    Oh and shuttles. Best advice I can give is park at the start and hike till you stop. You'll have no problem finding someone to shuttle you (typically for a fee) back to the start or to some other form of transportation to get back to your car. That way you're not stressed to make an "endpoint" at a particular time and you can relax and just enjoy yourselves. You'll be glad to be rid of time constraints soon enough anyway
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    Registered User JackThLion's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, Farmerchef. Love hearing about other folks hiking the long trails with their kids, and congrats on finishing! (I'm actually the mom, by the way, but it's okay, I know I picked a confusing username). My other kids are not quite as interested... My teenager goes backpacking with scouts, but has no desire to give up his summer to do extra, while my 7 year old daughter still whines and moans about day hikes... I'm working on her though

    The boy's pack is an Osprey Jib. If I was buying again I might go with something even lighter, but he loves it and it's trail tested (with plenty of growing room because he's a peanut), so I think we'll stick with it for this trip. I need to rig up something for better pockets on the front though, or maybe a pouch that can attach to his shoulder straps... pretty much nothing fits in his hip pockets and he was annoyed that he couldn't put his mp3 player away or get out a snack without taking his pack off.

    Transportation wise I think we'll be fine (my family lives in eastern NY so they will likely help with at least one if not both ends). We'll definitely be flexible on the end point, but from what I've heard here, I need to make sure we can at least make it to Upper Goose Pond, so I'll keep that in mind for picking where to start. Going to look more into the DWG when the kids are all asleep.

    I'm so glad I posted! I felt bad asking questions I could probably answer myself with more careful research, but it's been really good to hear everyone's ideas.

  14. #14
    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
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    Check out clip on belt pouches. Our oldest two girls had Deuter Fox 30 packs but they had no hip pouches and they too were annoyed they had to take their pack off just to get a snack. The clip on pouches solved that until we moved them up to GoLite Jams that had two hip pouches. Chest straps can hold attachable pouches as well. Just watch out for bouncing or noises. That drove my kids to madness until we solved the "squeak" or "bounce."

    Family transportation is the best! We had huge help from family on our hikes. You'll have decent cell service from NJ to Mass though it may be spotty at times. So if you decide to just go and contact your ride with directions once you know where you're going to end up, that shouldn't be a problem.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

  15. #15

    Default Month long NE section hike with 10 year old. Could use some advice :)

    I sectioned hiked through this area with my kids when they were about your sons age so 10 miles per day is doable but ymmv. CT/MA border to Hanover, NH is little short of 250 mi. The initial climb up Bear Mt. is challenging but Sages Ravine on the other side makes it worth the climb. Hanover is a great trail town to end a hike. The benefit of being picked up is your finish point is flexible, if you fall short or go past just arrange a different location. I did this with my wife through most of NE and she never had an issue finding us at trailheads or road crossings. Enjoy you hike!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    I was about to give similar advice, if you are not dead set on starting in MA, I would suggest starting at the CT/NY line and going north. The route 22/A.T. train station trailhead in Pawling NY is very GPS friendly and you can't miss it driving by. CT is relatively easy but has two beautiful sections, the Housatonic river walk and the Bear mountain/sages ravine section that starts south of the CT/MA border.

    Just to give you some warning, CT and MA are both "designated sites only" camping, so you have to plan to camp at the official campsites or shelters (there are tent sites in all shelter areas as well). I am not sure what the rules are in VT.
    I would second this. It would put you at approximately the Inn at Long Trail for 250 miles, on the north side of the Coolidge Range (Killington's ridge). Breaks you in with some easy stuff, much along the Housatonic River (very pretty), mixed in with some see-sawing up to ridgeline and back down.

    A few CT/MA notes:
    (1) Unless you're determined to walk all white blazes, one spot where you can divert an equal distance and get a prettier view is along the Housy. North of Ten Mile River bridge a ways, the trail briefly is on a dirt road. Where the AT turns left into the woods, stay straight on the road and see some really pretty rapids on the river. Follow road north to paved road, where you also see Bull's Bridge, a pretty old covered wooden bridge. Left at paved road, 0.1 to right on another paved road, which is where the white blazes pick up again.
    (2) Race Brook Falls Trail, between Mts. Race and Everett a few miles into MA, has wonderful waterfalls about a mile east of the AT. There's also a camping area there. IF you like waterfalls and don't mind paying for them with a couple miles RT and some elevation loss and gain, you can see as many as 6 of them along this trail. One of the prettiest trails I've seen.
    The more miles, the merrier!

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    PS: A nice thing about this plan is that, if you make better time than you expect, you could continue on about 40 more miles northbound to Hanover, NH for about a 300 mile trip, so there's some flexibility.
    The more miles, the merrier!

    NH4K: 21/48; N.E.4K: 25/67; NEHH: 28/100; Northeast 4K: 27/115; AT: 124/2191

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