The Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids in Northern Nevada (or in general) can seem like an impossible feat. But it is doable and that is why I am sharing my ultimate guide to hiking with kids. Bundle up your little one and take them in the stroller, baby carrier, or on foot. You can plan a short outing and get out into nature.

You’ll be amazed at how refreshing hiking with your kids can be and all the sights you will see. With this guide and some planning, hiking with your kids can be so fun and so worth it.

Here are some tips for hiking with your little one (and in my case, toddler and dog) and getting outside on those sunny, bright, winter days.

Check the Weather

When planning to be outdoors in Northern Nevada, it all comes down to the weather. Taking your child out into the elements requires planning to make sure conditions are safe. Check the weather. If there is snow, rain, or high winds in the forecast, you won’t be attempting it.

High winds are deceptive, so check your weather report for wind speeds. Avoid at all costs hiking with your child in high winds. You’ll need to wait out the storms to find days safe for hiking.

These days do happen, when they do, be ready to head outside! In Reno, elevation varies greatly from one region to another, and therefore snow and ice levels vary. You can check weather closures and other alerts on the Latest Park News page at Washoe County website.

Research your Trail

It’s easy to go online to plan your hike. There are so many kid friendly hiking trails. Washoe County also shares trails managed by the county’s Regional Parks and Open Space. Use this in combination with google maps/satellite view and All Trails to find well rounded information. General information, trail maps, descriptions, and reviews can be helpful when planning your hike.

You’ll find information about wildlife and local leash laws. Also… don’t go it alone! Unless it’s a populated urban trail you should make this a group outing with your family or friends.

What to Pack

As moms, we are used to packing a diaper bag with an item for every imaginable scenario. So, packing a backpack for hiking is easy! Here’s my basic list:

For Mom:

For Kids:

  • sunglasses
  • spill proof water cup, snacks
  • sunscreen, sunhat, warm hat, gloves
  • winter coat with hood, snow pants, puffer vest
  • set of extra clothing and socks
  • shoes with tread, snow boots
  • travel changing pad, diapers, wipes
  • extra blanket


  • water for dog, dog water bowl (collapsible)
  • dog waste bags (bonus: you can use these as garbage bags)


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from battling the elements during countless outdoor excursions, it is how to keep my son warm and comfortable, and therefore, happy in his stroller. These items work well for protecting your little one from the elements.

Uppababy Stroller. (Vista) This stroller can handle slushy trails, snowy grass, gravel or uneven pavement. What I love about it is the huge canopy, UPF 50+ sunshade, rain shield, hefty wheels and shock absorbing front and rear suspension. If you plan to be outside on paved and unpaved trails, this stroller will perform.

The JJ Cole Bundleme (three varieties: original, urban, polar). The Bundleme is an essential addition to an all terrain stroller, it provides warmth and protection from the elements without having to use a blanket; it has allowed me to remain active in the cold season and it keeps my son warm and cozy. I tell every Mom I meet about this product.

Baby Carrier When my son was younger, a baby carrier was a great option for us. For toddlers, a hiking backpack carrier can definitely comes in handy.

What to Wear… The Science of Layers

There are two simple rules to remember when hiking, this applies to you and your child: quality boots with tread and wearing/packing layers.

REI explains this layering principle well. You can think of it in terms of 3 layers.

  • The Base layer absorbs sweat off your skin (polyester/cotton or bamboo tees)
  • The Middle layer insulates you to retain body heat (wool or fleece sweater)
  • The Outer layer shields you from wind and rain (synthetic, waterproof puffer vest and snow jacket)


Hiking with kids is not going to be a day-long excursion. You won’t be scaling rocky trails or navigating steep switchbacks for several hours. Likely, you’ll be heading out for 1-2 hours to a mostly flat trail (and fitting this in between meals and nap time.)

You’ll want to hike in the morning to steer clear of afternoon tiredness. You will be doing a lot of prep for a short amount of time, and you’ll ask yourself if it’s all worth it. I’m here to say, yes, it is! If you live an active lifestyle, it is never too early to start involving your child.

If your child is on foot, you need to be prepared to go at their pace, as they wander and explore. They may want to be carried on the way back. Sometimes you have to abandon your plan if the trail is too icy or the winds are too strong.

Listen to your intuition. The key is to keep trying and finding trails and taking advantage of sunny days between the storms.

The Wilderness Society has written golden rules of outdoor recreation, simply put, “Leave no Trace.” Some principles serve as great reminders when hiking with your little one: plan ahead and prepare, dispose of waste properly, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others.

Health Benefits

We all know that exercise and being outside is good for us. From Stanford to the New York Times, you can find endless articles citing research that is both scientific and anecdotal based.

But the simple fact is that hiking can force you to focus on breathing and this decreases anxiety. As little as thirty minutes a day of exercise can improve circulation, lower blood pressure and help your cardiovascular fitness. Thrive Global takes this idea further and identifies reasons why hiking is your next “wellness tool.”

If you’re a busy Mom trying to wrangle your child (or multiple children) and dog, going for a hike and getting out into nature can be a respite within an otherwise chaotic day!

Do you love to hike with your kids? What are some other tips you would give to a fellow mama? See you out there, fellow Northern Nevada Moms!

Maureen Lowe is a Bay Area native that relocated to the high desert mountains of Southwest Reno with her family in 2017. Mama to her active pup and toddler boy, Maureen is a textile designer and graduate of CCA San Francisco. With a lifelong love of nature and the arts, Maureen has made it a mission to explore Reno’s scenic trails and cultural offerings to find kid and dog friendly outings that work in all seasons. Follow her on Instagram @maureen.lowe.

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