Spending time in the great outdoors is one of the most rewarding activities one can experience. Being able to admire the world’s natural beauty with friends and family makes this hobby even more rewarding. Here is a list of my favorite family backpacking adventures.
1. Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc
The first item on my list is easily one of the most beautiful and fun filled treks my family has ever taken. The Tour du Mont Blanc is famous around the globe as an exceptional hiking trail, and it does not disappoint. Throughout the entire 105 miles we were surrounded by majestic views of France, Italy and Switzerland. Several mountain passes reach close to 9,000 feet of elevation, and offer scenic overlooks of glaciers, jagged peaks and “augilles,” as well as the snow capped dome of Mont Blanc. Known as the “Monarch of the Alps,” Mont Blanc is an inspiring presence reaching 15,771 feet in elevation. Overall, this incredible adventure was made even more special by the company of three generations of my extended family, including my 80-year-old mother.
2. The Magic of Hiking to Yosemite’s Waterfalls
Yosemite National Park in California offers an amazing diversity of experiences to its visitors. From thunderous waterfalls dropping from a 1,400 foot cliff, to misty walks through towering trees, this park definitely earns its reputation as one of the most iconic landscapes in America. Yosemite Valley’s sheer granite cliffs and magnificent waterfalls will inspire a sense of awe and wonder in anybody, regardless of their age. Children will experience the thrills of walking through the mist in the shadow of a waterfall or traversing a narrow catwalk on the final steps to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. Parents and young ones alike will marvel at the sunlight on the granite cliffs and the memories you make with your family will be cherished forever. Read my story to start planning your own Yosemite adventure.
3. Three Generations, One Big Volcano: Pushing Limits on Mount St. Helens
I can confidently tell you that Mount St. Helens is hands down one of the coolest day hikes in America. The standard route, Monitor Ridge, begins in a shady forest and leads hikers onto a gray and black moonscape of volcanic pumice and ash. This otherworldly environment is made even more surreal by views of the Cascade Range, including snow-capped peaks of other volcanoes like Hood, Adams, and Rainier. The hike isn’t an easy one, with 4,500 vertical feet of up and down over 10 miles round trip and rugged terrain including loose stone and ash, it does make for a challenging adventure. My family set out on this trek with three generations in tow from my 11 year old daughter to my 73 year old father. I was able to secure last-minute permits to hike the mountain, but hours into the ascent things took a bad turn. Read on to see how it all turned out.
4. Dropping Into the Grand Canyon: A Four-Day Hike from Grandview Point to South Kaibab Trail
Every list of great hikes should include the Grand Canyon, right? While the views and landscapes here are iconic, backpacking in the Grand Canyon requires careful selection of routes as the area is unforgiving and can be dangerous in the heat. This four-day, 29 mile hike combines two highly accessible and spectacular trails on the South Rim that deliver constant views of magnificent canyon vistas.
5. The Wildest Shore: Backpacking the Southern Olympic Coast
This three-day backpacking trip on the coastline of Washington’s Olympic National Park remains a favorite for our kids. At the time they were nine and seven years old, and they absolutely loved hiking on the wild shore, playing in the water, exploring tidal pools, and uncovering treasures like an old, salt-worn buoy. Adults can enjoy this hike as well, admiring the offshore sea stacks, magnificent trees lining the beach, and the rugged natural beauty of the Olympic coast. All of these factors combine to make this one of America’s classic backpacking trips, and one your whole family will remember for years.