Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Family Day Trips, Family Weekend Trips, Kid-Friendly Trips, Kid-Friendly Trips, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Preparation & Readiness, Tent Campgrounds
Summer Weekend Backpacking…With Kids
What better thing to do on a hot summer’s day than take a hike with the family? Not just a short hike, but a weekend-long backpacking-type hike. Backpacking again (for our fourth time), almost a year after our first time, feels like a piece of cake (for the most part). We have gotten smart with how much weight we are carrying (or NOT carrying, for that matter) and have adequately adjusted our expectations of the kids (5 and 2).
We realize the kids can only hike so fast, with lots and lots of breaks, and of course, can only go so far without completely melting down in the middle of the hot, sunny trail. Our (forty-pound) two year-old is an enthusiastic hiker who loves to “walk” and rarely wants us to “hold him.” On the other hand, our over-50-pound, five year-old daughter would much rather “nap in our pack” than hike the whole way. In the end, she regrettably doesn’t get carried, but does require frequent “rests,” while our son mostly hikes (albeit very slowly) and gets carried periodically, depending on the terrain, his mood, and (our and his) energy level. Realistically we like to stick to 2-4 miles a day so that we can all have a good time, realizing that we are out there to have fun and enjoy the beautifully raw setting, and not to get as many miles under our belt as possible.
This past weekend, we headed just north of Ojai, California, to the beautiful wilderness area of Matilija Canyon. There are two popular hikes there, one going up to Matilija Falls (which is a bit more strenuous but only 4.5 miles up) and the other one, the one we went on, is called Matilija North Fork Trail. We chose this trail for several reasons. For one, there is lots of trees/vegetation for shade along the trail, plenty of designated camp sites within close range of the trail head and creek, and it has a doable elevation gain (especially critical when hiking with young kids). Quite honestly, I was thinking it would be more fun to hit the Matilija Falls trail, which has a more rewarding finish: twin falls and lots of swimming holes to choose from. Unfortunately for me, boulder-hopping comes into play at the end of that hike, which is not conducive to hiking with young children. In the end, I opted to put that hike on the back burner, until my hubby and I could return without the kids (on a backpacking weekend getaway, perhaps!)
More to follow soon, on the adventures we encountered….with a tarantula, poison oak, and fun camping creek-side with the whole family!