8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Hiking Trail for You and Your Baby

Going on a hike with your newborn baby can either be disastrous or something fun and memorable depending on how you choose your trail. It all boils down to how you plan accordingly.

We went on a couple of hikes while our baby was an infant, and thankfully each hike went smoothly.

There are eight things to consider when choosing a hiking trail for you and your baby that you have control over – that can make the overall experience better. Other things you have no control over, well, that’s all dependent on the baby itself.

Table of Contents

Driving Distance to the Trailhead

One of the biggest factors for you to consider for your baby, especially if your baby is an infant, is the drive to the hiking trail. Infants will need to breastfeed or take their bottles more frequently than usual. If it takes a long time to reach your hiking destination, prepare for multiple stops.

Additionally, you’ll have to change your baby’s diapers every so often if the driving destination of your hike is far.

By the time you get to the trail, you and your loved one might already be exhausted from the hike. Therefore, it’s ideal for you to go for a hike that’s not too far of a drive.

Trail Length and Difficulty for Your Little One

You want to consider a trail that’s appropriate for you and your baby’s age. Hiking solo is completely different than carrying a baby and hiking at the same time.

We went on an easy hike with no inclines, and it was only 2 miles. As someone that’s hiked for several years, I assumed that the hike would be as easy as a brief walk around my neighborhood. However, I underestimated that I would carry my newborn baby the whole time using a carrier. And so my baby’s extra weight made me tired even before completing 2 miles.

Choosing the length and difficulty is ultimately up to you and your baby’s age. Just remember that the younger they are, the more attention they need, which will equate to more stops during your hike. And if there are more stops, you want to make sure you block off the whole day of your hike. Or, you can choose a shorter hike.

Terrain Type Suitable for Your Child

It’s important for you to know the terrain of your hike. This will determine whether you want to bring a stroller or a carrier. It will also help you determine what type of shoes you’ll want to be wearing as well.

If you know that the hike will be flat the whole way through, then bringing a stroller is fine. Bringing a stroller to a hike brought us a sigh of relief as we would conserve our energy compared to carrying our baby.

Now, if the terrain has a ton of rocky roads, sand, or just anything that’s not flat surfaces most of the time, this is where you’ll want to use a carrier. But again, you’ll get tired easily because you’re carrying your baby, and since the terrain isn’t flat, the hike might be a little challenging in general.

On flat roads, I enjoy using my Vivobarefoot shoes. They’re easy to maintain, they last long, and they’re the type of shoes I don’t mind getting dirty. My significant other uses a pair of Nike’s on flat roads. If the terrain is a bit challenging, then I’ll use some hiking boots from North Face, where there’s more grip.

Weather Conditions for Hiking with Your Infant

It’s important to consider the condition of the weather whenever you go on a hike with you and your baby.

We wanted to make sure that the weather was not too hot nor too cold for us to go on a hike. We wanted to protect our baby from the sun as much as possible. Therefore, if it’s too hot, consider a trail with a ton of shade. Our experience going on trails in Southern California that has of shade consists of many trees, lakes, and even waterfalls.

If the weather is cold, then we’d put on clothes that would keep our baby warm, such as a beanie and a sweater. Our favorite Beanie for our daughter is from the brand Love Your Lemon. One beanie, in particular, is the Minnie Mouse Pom Pom beanie because it’s so warm and cute at the same time. Our favorite sweater is anything fluffy with ears on the hoodie because it’s cute.

We’d also cover our daughter’s feet with some baby UGG boots to keep her warm. And if it’s too cold, we’d wrap her around a warm blanket on top of using a carrier.

Facilities at The Start of the Trail for You and Your Toddler

Facilities with restrooms and water fountains have been a blessing for us. I feel like it is already catered for families with young children whenever there’s a facility at the start of the hike.

From my experience, whenever I’d go on a hike with a hidden entrance or an entrance with no restrooms in the beginning, the hike will be a challenge, and there’s a safety risk.

Restrooms at the start of a hike are a major green light for your family. Whenever we reached our hiking destination, we’d change our baby’s diapers immediately, so she was clean before the hike. If there were no restrooms or the restrooms weren’t maintained well, we’d change our daughter inside our car at a parking lot.

Trail Crowds and Your Child’s Safety

I would recommend reading on the AllTrails app or checking out TripAdvisor to see whether or not a specific trail has a ton of crowds. This is important for you and your family whether you want to be around crowds or not. Depending on your baby as well, if he or she is sensitive to a lot of noise, then you may want to choose a hike with lesser people. Personally, we like it when there are not too many people on a hike as it brings a little peace for us and nature.

The challenging part of our experience is that there are a lot of hikes with crowds in Southern California. And so another option for us is to go super early before everyone shows up for a specific hike, but that’s not as easy when you have a baby. You’re on the baby’s time, and as we all know, babies don’t care about time!

Safety Considerations When Hiking With Your Baby

The safety of a hiking trail should be your number one concern for you and your baby. You want to look for Trails with visible signage that includes the map of the trail, harmful plants on the trail, dangerous animals, or any potential warning signs that could be unsafe. 

We would have a sense of relief whenever we’d approach a trail with a ton of visible signage. However, it’s still important to always keep your guard up and not assume that any hike is safe just because of visible signage. You don’t know what could occur on any hike. 

I would recommend that you always have a first aid kit and inform a close friend or family member that you and your family are going on a hike.  

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are in hikes as well. There are too many sad stories in the past where family members would go missing for days due to improper planning. For instance, a family in October 2021 was found mysteriously dead from a hike in California

Scenic Views

Choosing a trail with beautiful scenery is up to you and your family. It all depends on your goals. If you want to focus solely on staying active, then it doesn’t matter the scenery of the hike. Now, if you want to enjoy nature, and spend some quality time with your family, then a beautiful view would be ideal.

There are hikes that can have both; a great view and a challenging hike. But what I’m saying is that if time is limited and if you’re only looking for a workout that requires you to hike, then the scenery doesn’t matter.

For example, we went on a local hike in Signal Hill in California, and all we saw were neighboring homes and a view that showed a ton of smog in the surrounding city. However, our heart rates were pounding like crazy because of the steep inclines. Keep in mind we were doing this before we had our baby. I think hiking Signal Hill would be extremely challenging for us while carrying a baby.

Overall Trail Experience

Choosing the perfect hiking trail for you and your baby may take several steps. But if you plan accordingly, you’ll have a memorable hiking experience with yourself and your family. 

I'm a professional marketer from Los Angeles, California. More importantly, I'm a brand new father who can't wait to take my beloved partner and daughter on all sorts of hiking trails. My mantra is that work will always be there, but watching your little one grow happens once in a lifetime.

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