Life and Adventures with Kids

Winter Hiking with Kids

Winter Hiking with Kids

Winter Hiking with Kids. Snow. Ice. Peaceful Landscapes. So.Many.Layers. Hiking after a fresh snowfall might be one of my favorite experiences. Winter hiking is seriously awesome, and the kids love it, but you need to be prepared.


The right gear makes all the difference.

When we hiked at Cuyahoga Valley National Park I thought I was ready, but I totally did not anticipate the wet snow rendering the kids gloves useless after ten minutes. That was a little bit of a mom fail, and I ended up gloveless because I gave mine to Liv. You can hand me the best mother ever award now.

Monday we woke up to streets blanketed with snow and ice. School was canceled and you have never seen a more distraught preschooler. She literally stood in front of the window and sobbed while I held her. I was looking forward to a morning at Ulta without someone painting their body in samples, so a lot of dreams were crushed that day.

Nonetheless, we rallied. Jake was off work so we decided to take advantage of our family day and head out on a little adventure. Determined not to repeat my past mistakes, I packed the right gloves this time.

Abby Winter Hiking
Look at those gloves! She can’t even use her hands they are so insulating!

Winter Hiking Tip:

The right clothes are invaluable. Layers are your friend. If you are a family who spends time outdoors, or if you are a family who aspires to spend time outdoors – get yourself the right outdoor crap. It’s annoying and can get expensive but trust me, it will be worth it. Our winning formula is a base layer of long underwear, snow pants, sweater fleece, winter coat, hat and waterproof gloves. Thick wool socks and real snow boots are also important. You want your kids to be just between moving deftly and “I can’t put my arms down”.  This also slows them down so you can catch them.

So we headed over to Walnut Woods Metro Park.

Winter Hiking Tip:

Know where you are going. If you end up in the wrong parking lot or at the wrong trailhead your kids might spot the playground and become single mindedly focused on the climbing wall and become less enthusiastic about walking about in the snow.

We finally figured out where to park and unloaded a metric ton of backpacks, strollers, camera and children. I’ve been to this park before, so I knew that the “trail” was actually a paved path all the way around the loop, so I thought bringing the stroller would be fine. It ended up being used as basically a walker for yours truly because the path was solid ice.

Winter Hiking Walnut Woods Metro Park
Look at those strong manly legs navigating the ice so deftly #husbandbrag #lol #totesjealous

The path had been cleared of snow, but a layer of ice had formed on the entire path. Jake of course had no problem and the kids mostly ran through the snow. I, however, was pushing the stroller on the ice and praying I stayed upright. I did not fall once, thank you very much.

Winter Hiking Tip:

Assess trail conditions before you leave the house. Check the weather. Do your homework!

Because we are stubborn people we decided that *it wasn’t that bad* while internally wondering if perhaps we’ve overestimated our abilities. Generally the answer to that question is yes.

The kids had a great time throwing snowballs, making snow angels and finding animal tracks. It was really cool to see the tracks of all the different animals that had crossed through the snow in the past couple of days.

Kids at Walnut Woods Metro Park
Investigating some mysterious tracks

Jake spent a lot of time throwing snowballs.

img_0257Snowball explosion

He also was the chief finder of “clean snow” for the girls to eat. Yep. They spent a significant portion of the hike chowing down on snowballs.

Kids eating snow at Walnut Woods Metro Park
Olivia at Walnut Woods Metro park
I hope that snow is pure white….

Winter Hiking Tip:

Just go with it. Your kids will probably want to do weird things like eat the snow like an animal, but at least they are enjoying nature! And building their immune system? Hopefully?

Eating Snow at Walnut Woods Metro Park
Face First into the Snow

The reason I wanted to do this particular trail loop was because at the very back there is an area of old tall pine trees that were stunning in the snow. Hiking in the snow, even if it’s just in your backyard, is an entirely different experience. Things feel so calm and peaceful. I wish I could photograph that feeling of calm quiet that follows a fresh snow, but the best I can do is random pictures of my kids who are totally over being my models.

Walnut Woods Tall Pines Area
Her one concession to posing in front of the pines

Winter Hiking Tip:

Unless you are a professional photographer you’ll probably have a hard time getting that perfect winter photo of your kids. Accept your fate. (wahhhhh)

Along the way the girls were on high alert for litter to pick up, because Olivia is very concerned about litter bugs. We found some and put it in a bag to carry out. The girls cheered like it was Christmas, which is both adorable and mildly disconcerting. Who knew litter was so thrilling? Abby clutched that bag of litter like it was her favorite child.

Stroller in Walnut Woods Metro Park
Abby and her bag of litter. Those trees though!

Eventually we made our way towards the car, which proved problematic because Abby was having so much fun she decided she needed to just stop and sit awhile.

In true Abby fashion, she is still eating that snowball. Always with the snacks.

When we informed her that we would not be waiting forever because it was time to keep walking?

Abby crying, Walnut Woods Metro Park
Dropped her snowball and had to walk

Despite Abby’s devastation over the snowball loss, overall we had a really great little walk (slide) over the ice. I stayed upright the whole time, which is #lifegoals, and the kids were properly tired when we got to the car.

Winter hiking with kids can be a real pain in the butt to get ready for, and then clean up after. There’s a lot of stuff involved. But if you can muster up enough resolve to outfit your kids and get in the car, you’ll be rewarded with the quiet stillness of snow covered trails and fragrant pines. Plus your kids will probably go to bed early!

Tips for Winter Hiking with Kids

1 thought on “Winter Hiking with Kids”

  • Hooray for you. I did some winter hiking yesterday too. It was gorgeous. I even was brave enough to venture onto an animal trail for a while. It’s so interesting how they crisscross the woods.

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