When I was a kid, I wasn’t terribly athletic and my family wasn’t really that big into hiking or camping. Running more than a mile almost certainly resulted in tears and I might have been that kid who went home from sleep away camp in the middle of the night on more than one occasion. 

To say that outdoor pursuits were not one of my strengths as a kid is a bit of an understatement. And thankfully my mom chose to document proof of this fact in my photo album. 

Seriously, does this girl look like she belongs outdoors? And yes, those are permed bangs. Not cool, even in 1989.

My shirt says ‘winter sports’ on it but do I look like I belong outdoors at all? 

And yes, those are permed bangs. I know, not cool, even back in 1989. Thanks mom.

It wasn’t really until I was an adult – and more specifically since I got into trail running – that I really began to explore the beautiful trails, parks and hiking routes we have all around us here in BC and the pacific northwest. We are so lucky to have so much nearby and as a mom, I want to make sure that my boys have these kinds of experiences when they’re young. I want them to grow up knowing and more importantly, loving their time spent hiking and exploring our great outdoors. And what better place to start with them than local favourite, Grouse Mountain.

Sometimes just getting to the grocery store with kids is a huge challenge but I figured that if I didn’t start taking my boys out into the woods now, then I would never get used to the whole ordeal (um, I mean, incredible experience) myself. Hiking Grouse Mountain with kids is definitely a big undertaking but there are so many reasons that all of the effort is so worthwhile.

1. They might surprise you with just how tough they are

We had done many flat hikes before we tried Grouse and I really wondered whether they were too young to try such a challenging hike. At just 5 and 6 however, they always seemed bored on the flat ones so I thought maybe something more exciting would keep them more interested.

And it totally worked. They loved having to climb over stuff, scale steep hills and were so interested in all the mushrooms and roots. These little guys were so much tougher than I expected. And it was awesome.

Seeing them out on the same trails I run and love just made them seem so grown up!

Seeing them out on the same trails I run and love just made them seem so grown up!

2. It’s a great chance to talk with your kids

Even at just 5 and 6 years old ‘nothing’ is already the most common answer I get when I ask how their day was at school. Being out on the trails for a couple of hours was the perfect place to get them chatting. I wanted to keep them talking to help distract them and let’s face it, to prevent them from having the chance to whine or complain! This strategy worked great too and we talked all about the trees, animals, other hikers, exercise and yes, even about how their day at school really was.

This was a great time to teach the kids about safety on the trails too...

This was a great time to talk with the kids about safety on the trails too…

3. Kids love climbing over stuff

Its true! They enjoyed the hiking but their little faces seriously lit up whenever we came upon an outcropping of roots or a rock they had to climb. They were seriously giddy with laughter because they thought it was so cool.

This was also one of the reasons that I chose to take the boys up the BCMC trail instead of the more popular Grouse Grind – no manmade stairs just dirt path, rocks and roots.

Scaling this rock was a big hit with the boys!

Scaling this rock was a big hit with the boys!

4. They’ll love finding the smiley faces along the trail

I don’t know the actual history of these little smiley faces on the BCMC trail but I’m guessing they were put there by members of the British Columbia Mountaineering Club or other trail builders during the building or maintenance of the trail. Regardless, it was super fun to tell the boys to watch out for the smiley faces and hear their laughter whenever they came upon one. I think there are 2 or 3 smiley guys on the trail and even I grin when I pass by them.

The kids had so many questions about how this face got here...

The kids had so many questions about how this face got here…

5. We all need to slow down now and then

I’m not a speed demon on Grouse by any means but can usually do the Grind or BCMC in a little over an hour. When going up with the boys I obviously didn’t expect to go anywhere near that pace and really had no goal at all. It’s tricky with kids because you want to encourage them but not push them too hard. Letting them set the pace was such a nice break and I saw so much more of the trail than when I’m huffing up at a training pace. Going slow was good for all of us.

Happy mama while the boys were taking a rest stop

Happy mama while the boys were taking a rest stop

6. It feels good to share the things you love with your kids

Although I strongly believe that my running helps make me a better mom, I definitely feel that ‘mommy guilt’ about the amount of time it takes me away from the very family I’m trying to be better for. Spending time like this with my kids is like the best of both worlds – I’m getting to show them a love of the outdoors but also share some of the incredible places I’ve been because of my running. 

Feels pretty good to take your kids the places you love...

Feels pretty good to take your kids the places you love…

7. The Skyride Gondola

Not much needs to be said about this one other that my boys could not contain their excitement about a ride down the mountain in a real, live gondola! When I get to the top of Grouse I always head to the lookout to check out the beautiful view of Vancouver. These guys? They ran straight for the lookout but only to see if the gondola was on it’s way or down. Typical boys.

Look at that view! But all they wanted to see was the skyride...

Look at that view! But all they wanted to see was the skyride…

Just so you know, I could easily write a sister-post to this one titled ‘7 Reasons NOT to hike Grouse Mountain with Kids’ because aside from all the good things there was also plenty of whining, complaining, arguing, ‘Are we there yet?’, ‘I’m tired!’ and even a bit of rock throwing. Such is life with little boys I suppose. 

However, hiking IS a lot of work for little kids and I don’t expect them to love every single minute of it. But, the more we go, the stronger their little legs will get and the more used to the whole thing they will become. I’m pretty sure some of the other hikers who passed us thought I was crazy with a gaggle of little kids but every single one of them told us how great it was to see a mom starting her kids young.

And I couldn’t help but smile and feel pretty proud of that.

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  1. Maureen    

    Even if your boys don’t ever pick up a love for hiking and the outdoors, you are creating memories that none of you will ever forget! And, that view! Beautiful :)
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    1. slowfastnik    

      That is so true! I can only hope they grow to love it like I do but if they don’t at least I’ll know it’s not because they didn’t have the chance.

  2. Christine Nielsen    

    Good on you sister. I took mine up last summer and had to carry G half of the way up. Had to bribe them with promises of burgers at the top to keep going :)
    Christine Nielsen recently posted…How to Get Your Kids To Eat Just About AnythingMy Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      Oh yeah I had all of the pockets in my hydration vest stuffed with candy and treats. A well-timed pack of gummies can do wonders for a whining kid. Ha ha.

  3. Scarlett    

    Mu girls both trained all year in 5th grade phys Ed to do the Grouse Grind at the end of the year. They were both super proud of accomplishing it (my husband did it with them – I wish I would have!)

    1. slowfastnik    

      Oh I love the idea of the kids training for it all year. That would actually be a fun thing to do with a group of kids at school… Hmm, the ideas are flowing now. Ha ha.

  4. DIYBlogGuy    

    I love this story, but to be honest I was so glad to reach the end because while reading, I couldn’t help reflect on my own situation with two young girls and how I longed to be able to do hikes with them.

    Then I reached the end and was heartened by the thought that the ‘whining’ and ‘complaining’ was still there even though it seemed like such a good day.

    Perhaps I need to endure the initial pain of getting them out of the house knowing they’ll enjoy the experience once we get there. I might just take them on a little hike this weekend.

    Thanks for inspiring me, today.
    DIYBlogGuy recently posted…How to use Canva to create free images for blogsMy Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      Doing stuff like this with little kids is never easy. My youngest son definitely whined his entire way to the top of the mountain. He smiled and laughed lots but otherwise, was in full whine. For 2.5 hrs. It can be frustrating but I try to think of it like my own running – when I first started I couldn’t get through 5k without wimping and whining even though I was proud to be running at all. It took me time to get good at it and I figure taking the kids places is going to be the same. They’re little and they’re young and they don’t understand the payoffs of working hard and exercising but I hope that the more I take them out, they more they will until eventually we can do the whole hike without any complaints. Good luck!

  5. Jenn @youpinspireme    

    Wow. I am super impressed that your kiddos did that!! When I was 20, it took me about 1.5 hours to do the grind and I have to say, I kinda hated it. :P. I’d like to try it again someday as an “adult” to see if I can be more mature about it. 😉
    Jenn @youpinspireme recently posted…A blogger sat down to write a simple blog post. What happens next will make your jaw drop!My Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      Yeah the very first time I did it took me well over 2 hours. That was before I was a runner and it was hell. It took us 2 hrs once with the boys and 2.5 hrs this last time. Like I said, nice and slow. :)

  6. Carin Harris    

    How nice! I remember Grouse Mtn when I was a kid. Got up into the snow with sandels on one time. Funny what you remember. Looks like they had a great time!

    1. slowfastnik    

      Yeah it was super fun. I’ve gone up there plenty of times and have been surprised by the snow too. Funny how it can be so nice and sunny at the bottom but snowing up top.

  7. Alison    

    I still haven’t hiked it myself. It’s on my to do list.
    Alison recently posted…How To Lose A Sock In 10 DaysMy Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      Definitely give it a go. And take lots of snacks. And money for a drink at the top!

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