Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Type to search

First Day Hike-Planning, Organizing, and Getting Outside

First Day Hike-Planning, Organizing, and Getting Outside

Allison January 2, 2018

Disclosure- this post contains affiliate links.

My parents have a tradition every year to go for a hike on New Year’s Day. Luckily, they live in California so this is a pretty enjoyable thing to do, weather-wise. I used to go with them when I was younger, but I admit, the last few years I haven’t been too excited about the idea of hiking the day after New Year’s Eve. This year, I joined the 365 Mile Challenge, so I knew I needed to start my year off right, and decided to plan a trip with my husband, parents, and my 15-month-old Adeline. My dad suggested that we go to Bodega Bay because it is the beginning of Whale Watching season, so we could possibly spot a few while hiking along the coast. Hiking with a toddler takes a little more preparation than what I used to do (throwing some water and a few snacks in a backpack will not suffice). Here are some methods that I have been using to make things more manageable.

Know the Trails

While my family and I are pretty active, trekking up steep hill after steep hill with a 22-pound toddler on your back is not always my idea of fun. Before we head out I make sure to look at the topography of the area on a map. The topography will tell you the elevation gain, and how quickly it occurs. The closer the elevation lines are together, the steeper the trail is. Also make sure to pay attention to the distance markings, especially if you are planning on doing a loop, make sure that the trail you are planning on doing isn’t 10 miles long (unless you are prepared for that). I also enjoy using the app All Trails, because the trails have already been rated by other users on their difficulty, elevation gain, and distance. It’s also a great way to get social with your hiking! My dad and I chose to hike at Shell Beach because we would have the best views of the ocean and it would be nice and flat. We ended up doing a 3.2 out and back hike on the Coast Trail.

Make a Base Camp

A Base Camp is everything you could possibly need in a tote bag or bin in your car. Instead of trying to pack your backpacks with supplies at home, before you know what the conditions at the trailhead will be, I use the Base Camp method. I first learned about the Base Camp method while taking a class through the Outdoor Mom Academy. When you have a child, the things you need to schlep along with you increase exponentially. No matter how well I think I packed the diaper bag, I end up needing something while I’m out that I know is sitting on the kitchen counter. With the Base Camp method, you pack everything you could possibly need into a tote bag or bin to keep in your car. That way, even if you need it on the trail, and it’s not in your backpack, at least you know it will be in your car at the trailhead. Here is what was in my Base Camp for this hike.


Obviously, I didn’t need to bring all of these items with me on the trail, but it was definitely comforting to know that if I needed them, they weren’t too far away. We did end up using the change of clothes when we got back to the car, somehow Adeline had peed through her diaper and her onesie and pants were wet at the end of the hike (hey it happens!).

I also made a Base Camp for my husband and I. Here is what was in ours:


  • jackets (warm and rain)
  • binoculars 
  • water bottles
  • a change of clothes (in a packing pod to keep them organized)
  • shoes (hiking and a change of shoes in case the hiking shoes get messy or uncomfortable)

Our Base Camp had much less in it, but all very helpful. You never know when your little one will have a diaper blowout on your back and you need that outfit change close at hand!

Enjoy the Outdoors

Getting outside with your family should be a positive experience. I am focusing on making fun, lasting, memories for my child in the outdoors. In order to do this, make sure that you are enjoying yourself too! Your children will pick up on your stress and anxiety if you are not comfortable, and they will not get the most out of the experience. Being prepared ahead of time helps me relax and makes it easier for me to have fun on the trail. Find what gives you joy and incorporate that into your trip. Good luck and I hope to see you all on the trails!


You Might also Like


  1. Marya January 3, 2018

    it sounds really fun to have hiking as your annual plan for new year’s day… i think i should consider something like this, as i normally do the same old thing on the first day of the year. 😛

    and well done for making it with the 15-month old.. no wonder all moms are supermom! 😉

    1. admin January 3, 2018

      Thank you, we love to find excuses to get outside!

  2. This is great! I’m planning on doing a lot more hiking this year — I went to Banff and Jasper National Parks out west this summer and after doing so much hiking, I don’t think I could stop this coming summer. I can’t wait for the beautiful weather to come back 🙂

  3. Cristine January 4, 2018

    I travel everywhere with my kids. It’s great to expose them to the world at a young age. While we don’t hike, good preparation is important in any type of family travel

  4. Nina January 4, 2018

    This is exactly what I miss the most about living on the west coast! I love all the views and the amazing hikes!

  5. Daneisha January 5, 2018

    Love the fact that you brought your little one Ali g with you!!! I know she loved it!!!