This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn commissions when you make a purchase through these links (at no extra cost to you). See our disclosure policy for more details.
Family Hiking Tips for Parents With Toddlers + Young Children
Mount Rainier National Park was at the top of our list of must-see attractions when my husband and I traveled to Washington State.
The breathtaking views were absolutely worth the sunburn and sore muscles afterward. I had been prepared for lots of exploring before we got there, but I was NOT prepared for the long drive to get there!
How can you prepare for hiking Mount Rainier — with kids or without?
Pro Tip: There are many different trails of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. Choose your trail(s) according to your skill level, and keep in mind that you may not need as many supplies on an hour-long hike as you would for a much longer one.
10 Tips for Hiking Mount Rainier With Kids
Here are ten things to consider when hiking Mount Rainier, with kids or without.
1. Check the weather before setting out.
You don’t want to be caught by surprise when you get there. Check the weather over the days leading up to your hike up Mount Rainier.
At the very least, check the forecast a few hours before leaving so you can cancel the trip if needed. Knowing the weather forecast will also help you decide how to dress for the hike.
Tip for Parents: If you plan on taking your kids on the hike, make sure to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.
You might want to take a nice, hot-weather baby carrier for younger children and toddlers for when they get tired of walking.
2. Dress appropriately for hiking Mount Rainier.
Check the weather forecast, then carefully consider your hiking outfit and pack extra layers in case they are needed.
Blistered feet will only ruin your hike!
Tip for Parents: Put loose, cool clothing on your kids, such as cotton and linen fabrics, if it’s going to be hot, as well as cute little sunhats to protect them from the sun’s rays.
3. Pack light but bring the essentials.
Pack light (bring the smallest size of each item). But, to be fully prepared for hiking Mount Rainier, bring all of the essentials:
- First aid kit
- Plenty of water
- Extra food
- Fire starter
- Emergency shelter
- Map and compass
Tip for parents: It seems that, when you have kids along, you need to bring so many extra things along.
Pack as light as possible, though, and consider using a baby or toddler carrier with pockets, such as the Boba X. It can hold a few of the little things you might want to have handy, such your iPhone.
4. Start at your fitness level.
It’s understandable that you want to get some good hiking in, but it’s imperative to start hiking at your personal fitness level.
This means if you’re normally a couch potato at home, an advanced trail is definitely beyond your fitness level.
My husband can walk faster and for longer periods of time than I can. I need to take plenty of breaks. That’s okay — don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to prove yourself to them.
Start small the first time you hike Mount Rainier, and work your way up to a more advanced level.
Tip for Parents: Take it slowly, and as your kiddos get older, they will be able to hike more quickly and for longer periods of time.
5. Pace yourself from the beginning.
Prepare for the hike up Mount Rainier by starting at a pace that you can maintain, rather than powering forward from the beginning. Once you are exhausted, it can be difficult to climb even the slightest of hills.
And take breaks as needed to catch your breath.
Tip for Parents: Take plenty of breaks when you have kids along, and make sure they have plenty of water and snacks available.
6. Familiarize yourself with Mount Rainier’s trails.
Mount Rainier has many different trails of varying lengths.
Check out the trail maps before setting out. You’ll want to know which paths to take before setting out on your hike.
Be sure to take a map along on your hike as well.
Tip for Parents: When you’re hiking with kids, choose a shorter trail and limit your hike time to avoid exhausting them.
7. Stay on the trails when hiking Mount Rainier.
Mount Rainier National Park has designated hiking paths and signs to point you in the right direction. There is no reason to leave the trails.
Stick to the trails so you can keep from getting lost, but also to avoid disturbing the wildlife.
Tip for Parents: Be sure to keep your kids on the trails to ensure their safety, and explain to them why you must do so in an age appropriate manner.
8. Let someone know where you will be.
If you are hiking alone, it is always a good practice to tell someone where you will be and how long you plan to be gone. That way, if you get lost, search teams will have a good idea where to start looking for you.
But even if you’re hiking Mount Rainier with a group of people, it’s always a good idea to make sure someone outside of the party knows where you will be.
Tip for Parents: This should go without saying, but never let your children hike alone, and keep them in sight at all times when hiking in the mountains.
9. Stop hiking to enjoy the view.
If you try to power through the hike as fast as you can, you’ll miss out on all the beauty Mount Rainier has to offer.
Stop and take a breath. Enjoy the view, and take a few photos along the way. I promise, you won’t regret it!
Tip for Parents: Snap plenty of pictures of your kids, and if another hiker offers to take a family photo, kindly accept it.
10. Leave nothing behind when hiking Mount Rainier with kids.
It’s up to each and every one of us to keep Mount Rainier looking clean and beautiful. Refrain from leaving trash behind — there should be no sign that you were ever there.
You certainly don’t want to look at anyone else’s litter on your climb. Be sure to clean up after yourself, and everyone else will be able to enjoy their hikes too.
Tip for Parents: Teach your children why it’s important to clean up after ourselves, especially while hiking.
My husband and I took several different nature walks when we visited Washington state. While we enjoyed them all, hiking Mount Rainier was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
Even though we didn’t try any advanced trails, it was still a challenge. You’ll definitely want to come prepared when hiking Mount Rainier, with kids or without!