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  1. #1
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    Default Minimum age to go hiking

    Hello everyone,

    I hope you're all enjoying your hiking.

    I became an uncle today. This is the first baby in my family since I've been an adult and I wondered at what age it's usually considered safe and reasonable to take a child hiking or hillwalking. I mean old enough to be able to walk for several hours without needing to be carried or crying and can step over logs, avoid slippy mud and all the other hazards of hikinh. I daresay it varies from child to child but I'm just looking for a ballpark.
    But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

  2. #2
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    I read a book many years ago written by a "hiking/camping" mom who was taking babies on hikes before they could even walk.
    I wish I could remember the name of the book to give it credit, but I can not.

    In any case, the recommended advice she gave was that a child should be able to walk 1 mile for each year of it's age.
    So a 1yo (if walking) should be able to walk a mile.
    A 2yo should be able to walk 2 miles.
    A 3yo should be able to walk 3 miles.
    A 4yo should be able to walk 4 miles... etc.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I read a book many years ago written by a "hiking/camping" mom who was taking babies on hikes before they could even walk.
    I wish I could remember the name of the book to give it credit, but I can not.

    In any case, the recommended advice she gave was that a child should be able to walk 1 mile for each year of it's age.
    So a 1yo (if walking) should be able to walk a mile.
    A 2yo should be able to walk 2 miles.
    A 3yo should be able to walk 3 miles.
    A 4yo should be able to walk 4 miles... etc.
    That's a good rubric, thank you.
    But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

  4. #4
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgiewave View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I hope you're all enjoying your hiking.

    I became an uncle today. This is the first baby in my family since I've been an adult and I wondered at what age it's usually considered safe and reasonable to take a child hiking or hillwalking. I mean old enough to be able to walk for several hours without needing to be carried or crying and can step over logs, avoid slippy mud and all the other hazards of hikinh. I daresay it varies from child to child but I'm just looking for a ballpark.
    Post #2 is total crap. You hit the nail on the head. It will vary from kid to kid. There is no ballpark figure for this.
    Lonehiker

  5. #5
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    As an example, I just saw a 12 year old crying on the High Uinta trail (although they just used it as an avenue to reach a few lakes).
    Lonehiker

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    As an example, I just saw a 12 year old crying on the High Uinta trail (although they just used it as an avenue to reach a few lakes).
    OK, I'll wait and see what she's like. She's spent much of her life crying, but for a seven-hour-old, that's allowed.
    But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

  7. #7

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    I think as soon as they turn one you take them to the summit at Katahdin!

  8. #8
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    While they're still light enough to carry and small enough to fit in a backpack, right?
    But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    Post #2 is total crap.
    It's just a simple rule of thumb... a starting point.

    Sure, there are experienced 3yo out there that can do 6 miles. But that's not going to be the norm for a child just starting.

    The purpose for the 1 mile/year "rule of thumb" is so that you don't do something stupid like plan a 10 mile hike for the first time you take a 5yo in the woods.

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    Default Minimum age to go hiking

    My kids are 4 and 2. Both can hike a good distance for their size but it's their personality that determines which hike I take each of them on. My oldest is very cautious, so she gets to go on more rigid trails than her sister, who fears nothing.

    Get to know that baby and she'll guide you to the right trail for her at every age. And enjoy being an uncle!
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by devoidapop View Post
    My kids are 4 and 2. Both can hike a good distance for their size but it's their personality that determines which hike I take each of them on. My oldest is very cautious, so she gets to go on more rigid trails than her sister, who fears nothing.

    Get to know that baby and she'll guide you to the right trail for her at every age. And enjoy being an uncle!
    I'll do just that, and thanks, I'm enjoying it already.
    But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

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  13. #13
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    Congrats!!

    I am only speculating but I imagine that exposing a child to the outdoors at any age and in any capacity is a good thing. So throw the infant in a kiddie carrier or a stroller on a less backcountry trail. Bring the toddler to the trail that follows the river and do some swimming. Do some car camping, some hiking and camping a mile or two into the campsite. like devoidapop said, enjoy being an uncle and just have some fun!!

  14. #14
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    I use/used an Osprey Poco for my most recent child starting at around 10 months. On our family hikes she was along for the ride for trips of up to 10-12 miles up until the age of approximately 3. She would get time outside of the carrier, but you have to be very reasonable about the distance a child that young is capable of walking and the speed of which they can do it.

    This spring she turned 3. My family tends to get out frequently, almost every weekend up until the face melting heat kicks in. She eventually starting asking to walk instead of being inside the pack. I started with her by adding on a 1 mile bike path at the end of our on trail hikes, so she could walk without tripping over rocks and roots. By this August she was able to work her way up to a 5 mile trail on a relatively flat hike at a local state park. There were a few requests that I pick her up after about 3 miles and she let me know that she was getting tired. But I slowed my pace a little, held her hand and talked about the flowers and butterflies, and sang the ABCs quite a few times and she just kept trucking along.

    I did the same thing with my boys. They carry their own water and snacks in lumbar packs and were able to walk 8 miles a day by about age 4 and 10-12 miles by age 5 on some fairly hilly trails. They can keep a very reasonable pace of 2 mph which includes their break times.

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    We were in the outdoors a lot with our kids, from age 0 to ~12yrs.
    But we never even tried to aim for a certain milage. Kids are not little grownups, but are - kids, and for kids its all about motivation. A summit in the distance or any other goal so many miles away gives them Zero.

    We took it all as one huge playground and invented lots of games to keep the kids moving, running, jumping and climbing, and always took breaks with picknicks.
    It was always better if there were a bunch of them, than just a single or two of our own kids, so we happily invited their friends to join us.

    All of our kids loved to be outdoors this way, but every single one completely turned away from outdoors and hiking at a certain age. This came before they stared dating. It was very important to find their own way of life.
    Most of our kids are grownup now and perform various kinds of outdoor sports.

    I would never recommend pushing kids into hiking certain distances, elevations and such.

  16. #16
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    The magic age is five(5) years old.

    Hey guy with hydration pack, 2 hiking sticks & North Face vest; my 5 yr old walked the same trail in Crocs carrying a naked Barbie. Relax.

    Quote Originally Posted by devoidapop View Post
    Get to know that baby and she'll guide you to the right trail for her at every age. And enjoy being an uncle!
    The kid will let you know but remember you will need permission from mom, dad, grandma, etc.

  17. #17

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    I get more miles out of my kids the more Oreos I bring them.

  18. #18

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    I think your question is rhetorical. Use a common sense approach, you, are your own arbiter.
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgiewave View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I hope you're all enjoying your hiking.

    I became an uncle today. This is the first baby in my family since I've been an adult and I wondered at what age it's usually considered safe and reasonable to take a child hiking or hillwalking. I mean old enough to be able to walk for several hours without needing to be carried or crying and can step over logs, avoid slippy mud and all the other hazards of hikinh. I daresay it varies from child to child but I'm just looking for a ballpark.
    As a parent, hiker, outdoorsman, camper, ect. you start taking your child with you on adventures as infants. Their first "hike" will likely be 3-4 steps on a boardwalk holding mom's hands.

    As an uncle- expect to wait a decade or more before counting on a reliable hiking partner. Even then, your expectations for a "hike" will need to be malleable.

  20. #20
    Registered User russb's Avatar
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    The age dilemma aside, most kids of any age do not care fir just "hiking", there usually needs to be something else. Whether the hike culminates in a cool spot to camp, or a swimming hole, or neat rock formations to play on/around, etc... These provide a "reward" and also help develop delayed gratification. To alleviate the "are we there yets?", add something to the hike such as a wildlife scavenger hunt (actual or signs of animals), a favorite of little boys is a "poop hike", looking for animal scat and trying to determine the type of animal. This helps develop awareness of their environment and grows observation skills. Kids are naturally curious about their environment, and not so much into "just walking". Slow the hike down to access this curiousity.

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