The Insider’s Guide to Family Camping

Know Your Physical Limitations—Part II
Page 4 of 6   |  

Any parent who's done his fair share of backpacking can't wait to hit the trail, do a good 12-mile clip, and reach that stellar lean-to in the sky. Just a friendly reminder: You're not with your buddies. You're leading children into the wilderness and they don't have the expertise or the stamina of your friends. With kids under five, you'll be lucky to hit the two-mile mark—and that includes stopping every 20 minutes. From ages five to seven, you can probably stretch your day’s hike to four miles, again with plenty rest stops. When your child reaches the age of eight, the real fun begins. Depending on their endurance, you should be able to do a good seven- to ten-mile hike. Rest, enjoy the views, reenergize, share your wisdom of the world, learn to know your children. Most importantly, have some patience and don’t push them beyond their limits. Let them surprise you about how much they can accomplish, like the time Melanie made it to the top of 4,393-foot Mount Mansfield in Vermont at the age of five. Or when Jake insisted on lighting the campfire and cooking us dinner in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Sure, the noodles were overcooked. But everything tastes good with Ragu.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at

Published: 20 Sep 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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