Outings + Activities | Family fun | Ages 6–10

Happy Backpackers: Planning a Family Wilderness Trip

backpacking-drellinger-flickrOur first backpacking trip with our young daughter was to the popular Third Beach on the Olympic Coast, a mostly level, 1.5-mile hike through trees to a sandy Pacific beach. During the day, the beach was crowded with day users.

But as evening approached, the crowds dispersed and left us with a wide stretch of beach to explore by ourselves. The campsites are in the trees in a creek ravine, so we had water and protection from the wind, and a beach right outside our door. The tide was low, so we were able to see numerous starfish and anemones on the rocks.

It was a small slice of heaven. And our daughter was eager to go backpacking again — the result we had hoped for.

If your young family has done some car camping, you may be ready to step it up and get away from the crowds to experience the great outdoors in its more pristine state. There is nothing like hiking into the backcountry — no cars, no cell phones and no lights to filter the stars in the night sky. But it can also be challenging to backpack with young kids, and backpacking requires more preparation than car camping. Here are three strategies (plus some useful lists) for planning a successful first trip.

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