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Backpacking with 5 Year Old in Georgia
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Lawrence Honikel
Backpacking with 5 Year Old in Georgia on 09/26/2011 20:07:02 MDT Print View

Looking for suggestions on backpacking with a 5 year old in North Georgia. He enjoys the outdoors and camping, but hasn't done long hikes yet. Any suggestions on where to start in North Georgia area?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Water on 09/26/2011 20:08:50 MDT Print View

I don't know any special spots in N. GA but I'd look for a spot with water, easy entertainment. Sounds like fun, enjoy it.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Backpacking with a 5 Year Old on 09/27/2011 07:05:05 MDT Print View

I have twin girls who just turned five a couple of weeks ago and I took them on their first backpacking trip in May. Here's a link to my trip report.

A couple of observations that may help you:

- Keep the mileage down...We only did 1.3 miles each way and it was, according to them, "so far". It also means that, in a worst case scenario, it's not so far back to the trailhead if you need to bail. Also - I'd suggest starting with just one night out on your first trip. My girls were, of all things, worried about foxes coming through the campsite at night. I'm not sure where that came from, but it helped that they knew we were going home the next day.

- If you can, take another dad and one of your son's buddies so he has someone other than you to hang out with in camp. It will free you up to do "chores" while he's still having a good time. You can let him participate as much or as little as he wants that way.

- Take comfort food even if it weighs more. We did Annie's Shells & Cheese which the girls devoured and then I packed some frozen hot dogs inside my food coozie and we cooked them over the fire for dinner. They were pretty happy. If you've never seen it, Grandpa's Fire Fork is a great tool to take for both hot dogs and marshmallows.

- Be prepared to carry extra weight. While you may not need any extra clothing, you need to plan on your son falling in water so you'll have to pack an entire extra set of clothing. My girls helped out considerably by carrying their sleeping bags and pads, but that was it. I had to switch to my Expedition pack to be able to carry everything the three of us needed.

- Make backpacking different than car camping. I'd taken the girls car camping since they were 18 months old so they were very comfortable in the woods and in a tent. When backpacking we actually slept under the stars - I tried to stress with them that backpacking could be different than car camping because I knew that we would only get one "first" backpacking trip.

- Know the destination before you go. I'm lucky enough to live near the AT so I picked a spot that wasn't far from a trailhead but had a stream, a shelter (which the girls swept endlessly) and a lot of room for tents. It also had a privy in case we had any issues going in the woods. In my case we didn't - the girls hated the smell of the privy and preferred doing their business in the woods.

Good luck with your planning!

Edited by KBabione on 09/27/2011 11:12:22 MDT.

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: Backpacking with 5 Year Old in Georgia on 09/27/2011 09:26:28 MDT Print View

A couple of thoughts:

1. Kids like to carry gear. A five-year old can carry some of his gear and, say, the camp stove. That's a light, but important piece of gear, involves fire, etc., so the kid will feel important and be interested in packing. Also, a flashlight is a real treasure; a pocket knife for older kids.

2. My kids, at the age of five, often lacked the mental stamina to hike distances that were easily within their phyical capacity. This isn't a personality defect, it's just part of a kid's development. Once a kid "gives up" mentally, it's very difficult to get them moving at more than a snail's pace.

3. I found the solution was (1) to avoid mentally challenging obtacles like long climbs or hot weather, (2) take relatively frequent breaks (15 min per hour) and (3) bring a peer/buddy. As an extreme example, my youngest son could literally hike all day if his cousin came along, even a very young age, but by himself could scarcely go a mile.

4. Also, go someplace with some kid friendly features: a small creek, a cave, some cool rocks to climb, a pond with salamanders.

JJ Mathes
(JMathes) - F

Locale: Southeast US
Backpacking with 5 Year Old in Georgia on 09/27/2011 16:39:11 MDT Print View

You can drive up to Indian Grave Gap on USFS 283 (road) and park at the AT trailhead, from there hike north on the AT 1-mile to the Cheese Factory campsite, water is on the west of the trail about 100 feet. Big area for tent camping or camp under the laurels.


from Indian Grave Gap continue to drive on the same USFS 283 until you get to USFS 79, take 79 to Tray Gap and park at the trailhead parking lot, hike north on the AT 1.2 mile up to the Tray Mtn summit, lots of small spots for a tent, there's a shelter there too, water is about 250 yards behind the shelter

water was at both locations this past weekend

USFS 283 is off of Hwy 75 between Hiawassee and Helen

feel free to PM me if you need more info

Lawrence Honikel
Thanks! on 09/27/2011 19:37:55 MDT Print View

Thanks for the suggestions and recommendations! I'll definitely check into the Indian Grave Gap area. Would love to hear other ideas as well! After we've completed out trip, where ever it ends up being, i'll post a trip report. Thanks again!