Hiking with a Toddler in Indy: Fort Harrison State Park


Hiking with a Toddler: Why?

Hiking with a toddler can feel intimidating, but there are so many reasons to get out in nature with your little one! I grew up in a rural town called Brazil, IN. and spent a lot of time hiking through our woods (and the woods of nearly all of my friends at one point or another.) Some of my fondest memories are of time spent out in nature. Fast forward to present day; my husband and I have lived in Indianapolis since 2013 and the city is really all our 3.5 year old son has ever known. 

This age for my son is so fun because our ability to communicate is good enough that we can talk about things we see everyday. I realized these days are likely to be some of his earliest memories. I wanted to make sure that he remembered not just the city, but nature being a huge part of his life. So when it came time for New Year’s resolutions, I decided we’d get back out into nature more by hiking; in fact, I made it my goal to go hiking at least once each month of 2018!

Hiking with a Toddler: Getting Started

I wanted to get out and start hiking…but what did I know about taking a toddler on the trails? And in Indianapolis? Not a whole lot. But after a little bit of research, I soon discovered that Indy has plenty to offer in the way of hiking, and many kid-friendly trails within a 30 minute drive of our home!

I used the AllTrails app to start my search for a kid-friendly trail close to us. In January 2018, our adventures in mama/son hiking began at Fort Harrison State Park, where I did a solo hike (which was empowering and boosted my confidence) as well as a group hike with a dad friend, our respective toddlers, my teenage sister, and his dog! And we all had a great time!

Hiking with a Toddler: Our First Hike=Success!

I know my kiddo, and I knew that he would likely not be able to keep up a good pace with me, so I made the very wise choice to invest in a sturdy hiking carrier/backpack combo. There are lots of options out there to choose from. After researching several, I chose this one I found on Amazon! It was perfect! We had enough storage space in the backpack part of the carrier for our snacks, water, picnic lunches, and first aid kit. 

We hiked the Fall Creek trail at Fort Harrison, which is a moderate 2.7 mile loop trail. The two toddlers took turns riding in the carrier, as they both got tired walking on their own after a while. I plan on keeping any hike with my toddler between 2-3 miles so that I don’t wear him out. This trail was great for our group! We even got to see some wildlife, thanks to my sister’s eagle eyes! There’s also several spots with picnic tables to take a break and maybe enjoy a picnic lunch out in nature. We can’t wait to go back and explore more trails together!

Do you hike in Indy? What’s your favorite local trail? Tell us where we should explore in February/March!