Winter hiking with kids is SUPER fun, but also requires a fair bit more organization and preparedness than your average fairweather hike.
British Columbia winters are unpredictable. One week we may be enjoying gloriously warm weather and wearing t-shirts, and the next week we may be putting on our parkas, toques (neighbours to the south; this is your version of a “beanie”, eh?), and leaving our igloos to enjoy some freezing temperatures and snowy weather.
Oh, British Columbia…
When we’re experiencing the winter weather that we typically get (sunny and ridiculously not-seasonable) you can follow the guidelines that we typically share with you about hiking with your kids.
However, when the weather is fierce you need to do things a little differently in order to go winter hiking with your kids:
How to go winter hiking (like, actual “winter” hiking) with your kids
Make sure your kids are VERY well geared up. Layer them in thermal layers, if possible, before putting them in their snow gear. Make sure snow pants and jackets are warm and good quality, and boots are waterproof. If it’s snowy and icy outside it might be a good idea to throw on some spikes. The ones that are coiled and tightly bound work well on smaller feet.
Gauge your kids AND your mood. Taking them out in colder weather can be very trying. If everyone isn’t 100% on board it may not be worth the effort.
Pack the car appropriately: Bring an extra change of clothes in case of a water leak (or an internal snowsuit leak-that happens, too). Bring blankets for use in the car afterwards, hand warmers, and possibly even some hot chocolate that can act both as a heating device and motivator. Also, bring towels and wet bags/garbage bags for anything that’s snow-laden.
Be prepared to cut your trip early on account of cold weather. Remember, you’re probably a lot more tolerant than your kiddos. Keep watch for cues and act accordingly. The main cue to look for is: “I’M FREEZING AND I HATE THIS WEATHER AND I HATE HIKING AND I WANT TO GO HOME.”. This is a telltale sign that your kiddo is done with winter hiking and home is in order.
Choose spots that are open. When we do get cold weather in British Columbia it gets REALLY cold. This means we may get some icicles and heavy snow. Staying clear of trees and icicles that could potentially fall is a wise idea. Some of our favourite winter hiking spots include Sardis Park, Heritage Park, and Mill Lake Park.
Well travelled spots are ideal when you’re heading there with kids. Not only is it ideal to have other folks around when you’re winter hiking with your kids, but those fine folks can also create a pathway for you and your kids to enjoy. Walking on compact snow is a lot easier than walking on fresh snow, and opens up way less opportunity to have snow enter angry toddler’s boots.
Give your kiddo some major props. Winter hiking isn’t always the most fun thing in the world (according to everyone who has kids) but they powered through and rocked it. Praise them.
Give yourself some major props!! Damn, parent! You took your kids out winter hiking and nobody froze or tantrummed to death. Well done!
Once you’re home offer the kiddos a warm bath and a hot meal that they’ll likely turn their nose up to. They may not eat it, but you’ll feel good offering it.
Winter hiking with kids can be a lot of fun if you’re prepared. We want to know where your favourite winter hiking spots are! Share in the comments below or post on our Outdoor Living with Kids page!