“Hiking outside with my baby/toddler is about the happiest activity I experienced as a mom.”
-Shelley, a local mom and hike leader
The North Shore is a prime place for exploring nature with your family and there are many easy forested trails and paths perfect for hiking with your kids.
Ready for a hike? Here are nine tips from an NVRC staffer and local mom who loves exploring nature’s playgrounds with her kids:
- Bring a change of clothes and wear proper footwear
A cold, wet kid with sore feet is a miserable kid. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear and have a change of clothes in case they get a little too up-close-and-personal with a mud puddle.
- Pack snacks and water
Kids get hungry and thirsty and when they do, they are not going to want to walk anywhere. We like to take natural snacks such as fruit and nuts so that if snacks get dropped on the floor and accidentally left behind, they aren’t going to harm the wildlife. Bringing water is a must for all walks and hikes.
- Let them carry their own supplies
Give them a small backpack with their snacks and a small water bottle. Not only does this put them in charge of snack time, it also teaches them that you need to be prepared when you go for a walk in the forest. It also lightens your load!
- Start off short
Begin with a 20 minute walk in the woods and gradually increase the distance as their love of the outdoors grows and they can walk for longer periods. Rice Lake is a great trail for very little ones; it is stroller friendly so they can rest in the stroller when they get tired. Capilano River Regional Park has small loops which are also great for hiking with toddlers.
- Prepare to go slow
Little ones shouldn’t be hurried and should be given time to explore their surroundings and sometimes that means stopping every 10 feet to look at a cool leaf or a mushroom. It’s not about the distance covered, it’s about the experience.
- Make it fun
There are lots of free scavenger hunts for all ages available on the internet. Going in search of something like a Y shaped branch makes it a fun experience.
- Get up close with nature
Let them pick up leaves and sticks, let them climb on rocks, let them get dirty - these are all learning experiences and will make the walk more enjoyable for the kids.
- Rain or shine
Don’t wait for a sunny day, the forest looks different in all types of weather and a rain shower means puddles to jump in and mud to squish in. On a rainy day it is drier once you’re in the trees and it’s less busy! As long as you’re dressed for rain it’s just as enjoyable as a sunny day, some would say more so.
- Finally… be prepared
Follow North Shore Search and Rescue’s guide for the 10 essential things you should take with you on a hike. And don’t forget to tell someone you’re itinerary just in case you get lost.
North Vancouver Recreation and Culture is pleased to offer organized parent and child hikes in the Capilano River Hatchery area. Check out Baby & Me Hiking and Eco Trekkers Parent & Tot for more information.
Also, check out NVRC's North Vancouver Guide to Great Walks & Hikes which features 10 easy hikes complete with maps, photos and descriptions.