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A (Funny) Family Guide to Hiking With Toddlers: 12 Things You need

One of the things I love most about outdoor actives and small children is that it generally wears them out. Oh, and it makes memories and stuff.

Before we had kids, my husband and I were out every weekend on a different adventure. We had the luxury of just hopping in our car and going. We didn’t need to take naps into consideration because we’d nap after our destination hike, or wine tasting.

Boy, has that changed.

These days hiking is still fun but, it’s more of a three-ring circus kind of fun. Where people cry, and someone almost always falls and gets a face full of dirt. Like anything else with parenting, hiking with toddlers takes some trial runs to finesse it a little.

Here’s a few tips on what you’ll need:

Family-friendly Colorado: Top places to take the kids around the state

When I moved to the Colorado Rockies from New York City 19 years ago, I couldn’t get enough of the new-to-me outdoor lifestyle here. I bought a bunch of secondhand Patagonia clothing, rode my first mountain bike and visited my first national park.

Six years later, when I became a mom, I had no intention of ending outdoor explorations of my adopted state. Sure enough, my daughter camped for the first time when she was 2 months old, in a tent in the woods near Leadville. My sturdy son climbed the log ladders to reach Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park when he was just a toddler.

I want my kids to grow up appreciating all of the treasures in their backyard — from our high-mountain peaks to our powerful whitewater rivers to our cowboy heritage. Not one to eschew man-made thrills, I love that they like riding the roller coasters at our state’s amusement parks even more than I do.

Here are just a few family-friendly Colorado experiences I’ve enjoyed with my children — now 11 and 13 — over the years. With less than two months of summer left before the school year begins, I’m hoping that this list will inspire you to get out and explore with your kiddos somewhere in our great state in the coming weeks.

Why “Up” Should Be On Every Colorado Mom’s Must-read List

You need to read the new book, Up–A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr if you:

  • Love the outdoors
  • Have a girl you want to empower
  • Have a boy you want to empower
  • Basically, this should cover pretty much every Colorado mom.

    Though I enjoy reading, I don’t have a lot of time to do it but my interest was immediately piqued when I heard about Up because I am passionate about instilling a love of the outdoors in my children. Author Trish Herr felt the same way. Her 5-year-old daughter Alex’s over-the-top energy levels led Trish to propose they try to tackle forty-eight of New Hampshire’s highest mountains. Trish had no expectations or time limit but it very soon became apparent Alex was capable of big things.

    Win a Membership to Colorado’s Premier Hiking Group for Moms and kids ages newborn to 11!


    After childbirth, new mothers deal with their catapult into parenthood in many different ways. Some ease into it without a problem (a recent study showed there were three women worldwide who fit this profile). For the rest of us, our coping mechanisms may include denial, bewilderment, tears or Prozac.

    For me, it was Colorado Mountain Mamas.

    When my colicky firstborn was six weeks old, I discovered this hiking group for moms. Before long, I was hitting the trail with everyone from the gal who had never hiked before to the triathlete. I formed lasting friendships, got into shape and shared my great love of the outdoors with my daughter.

    Colorado Mountain Mamas was founded by Joy Opp (and her daughter Amanda) in the spring of 2003 when Amanda was about 4 months old. Joy is a native of Colorado and naturally thought that hiking with her new baby would be easy but it wasn’t – it was lonely and intimidating! So Joy quickly gathered as many moms as she could for some hikes and the idea was formulated. Nine years later, CMM has had over 2,400 members trekking the trails with their seven hike leaders.

    CMM offers hikes for moms with babies newborn to 2 years in a pack (with three different levels of difficulty), hikes for toddlers ages 2 to 6 and recently introduced hikes for school-aged kids (ages 7-11) that start in June. They also have stroller walks or runs, and casual bike rides with the baby trailer. So, grab your baby or toddler, hiking sticks and trekking poles, and you’re good to go!


    We are thrilled to offer one lucky mama and her kids a one-year membership to Colorado Mountain Mamas. Simply go here to enter. Contest deadline is June 16, 2012.

    Explore Colorado With Fun Outdoor Events From Planet Explore

    With Spring’s glorious temperatures, Colorado is a joy to explore. The North Face has made outdoor participation a priority with Planet Explore a portal to the outdoors for people of all ages to find outdoor events in their area.

    In Denver, Planet Explore has teamed up with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, the Blufflake Nature Center, Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder, Big City Mountaineers and Environmental Learning for Kids to help promote these fantastic events.

    1) Bluff Lake Nature Center has planned several events that will help you celebrate Earth Day.

    Wednesday, April 21: STARGAZING. The Bluff Lake Nature Center will kick off Earth Day events on April 21 with a members-only event at dusk. An amateur Astronomer will bring his telescopes to Bluff Lake and share the wonders of the universe.

    Thursday, April 22: EARTH DAY. On Earth Day, BLNC will partner once again with Stapleton-area business on our Locavore Earth Day event. A number of local businesses will donate a portion of their day’s proceeds to Bluff Lake Nature Center.

    Saturday, April 24: RECYCLING. Bring your electronics, baby gear, and more to Bluff Lake for FREE (or low cost) recycling. BLNC will also be showing recycled art from local artists and their educators will work with children to assemble small worm bins. The recycling opportunities that will be available include B-Logistics (books, CDs, DVDs, video games), WeeCycle and Techno+Rescue (electronics). Check for specifics.

    Sunday, April 25: WESTERLY CREEK CLEAN-UP. Help BLNC and your Stapleton neighbors as they spend time cleaning-up Westerly Creek. This is an annual neighborhood tradition, and they collect a wide variety of trash – from the common (plastic water bottles) to the extraordinarily large (mattresses).

    Saturday, MAY 1: SPRING TREE PLANTING. This is a great opportunity to teach children about nature as they learn to plant trees and shrubs. Register at

    2) Big City Mountaineers is partnering with Leave No Trace and AEE (Association for Experiential Education) at the National Get Outdoors Day event June 12. They also have the