How to prepare for the West Coast Trail? How to prepare for the West Coast Trail with kids?
We get asked this a lot.
We also are asked… Why did we think we could do this with our kids ? That question I find hard to answer. Even I wonder this sometimes. My husband was fully confident the whole time though…
Looking for a list of what we pack? Download our full gear guide here.
We also created a Guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail. Check the Guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail.
Here are 11 ways we prepared for the West Coast Trail
- It wasn’t our first family backcountry trip:
Our oldest went on her first backcountry trip when she was one years old. Learn what not to do on a backcountry trip here.
We have taken our kids on many other backcountry trips as a family. Some challenging and some easy.
2. We go hiking a lot.
My kids helped me gather the over 40 hikes in my hiking guide I published in 2020 “Hikes for Fanmilies: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies”.
They have also helped me collect a ton of the trails for my new app called TrailCollectiv coming out in summer 2022 that is “Redefining Trails for Families”.
3. Our kid’s are climbers.
Our kids started climbing before they could walk. Both girls started outdoor climbing when they were little including climbing all around the USA and Canada during our 3 month van trip. Some of the places they have have climbed include the Canadian Rockies, City of Rocks in Idaho, in Utah, outside of Las Vegas and in Joshua Tree.
4. Training Sessions.
We did family training sessions.
We went to the local BIG hill in Regina, Saskatchewan and would hike up and down. I would usually do 10 times, my oldest maybe 8 and my youngest… well it depended on her mood. These hill sessions were mostly for me. I knew my kids would be fine.
5. Playground Visits and Outdoor Play.
Kids trained everyday at school playing in the playground or playing soccer with their friends. We would frequently take the kids to go climb at the playground and do the monkey bars.
Outdoor play and exploring on small trails is how we started with our kids outside many years ago! Never underestimate those early playing years outside.
6. Ultra Running.
My husband was running 13 km a day as part of a 5 Peaks Challenge to run across Canada. He was also training to run the full 135 km Boreal trail in Northern Saskatchewan in a day. His training was so helpful because he had extra stamina to support our family on the trail.
Side note… he also won the Beaver Flat 50 km Trail in 2021!
7. Daily walks
I was most worried about my fitness. I have found it hard to prioritize myself these days. I did daily walks with my dog for 30 minutes. I did a few runs. I think my past fitness levels helped me a lot. I used to train a lot when I played rugby in university and played in two university rugby 7s world championships.
We tried to go for family walks a few times a week around the neighborhood. Our neighbourhood is flat so not really great for elevation but the kms on the feet did help.
8. Climb a Ladder with a Pack on.
Practice climbing a ladder with a pack on.
Practice 3 points of contact.
Two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand on the ladder at all times. This will significantly improve your chances that you will not fall or slip off one of the slippery rungs on a ladder.
9. Mental Toughness
Our kid’s are used to being outside and being put in uncomfortable situations. It has been part of our family lifestyle for a long time. These uncomfortable situations helped them deal with:
- the long hiking days by playing and telling stories
- sleeping in a tent for 10 days (which they actually love doing)
- deal with all the mud and wetness.
- understand safety concerns and listen on the trail when it is important.
My own mental toughness and my husband’s mental toughness was important too. At one point during the hike, my husband looked at me and said “I forgot how tough you are.” Then we laughed and recounted previous experiences adventuring together with the kids.
10. We were pumped up
From the moment we danced around our living room after booking our preferred dates, our family was excited and all in! This excitement around having something exciting to work towards as a family was really cool and helped us prepare.
11. Get the proper resources
- Buy the Blisters and Bliss Book
- Check the Canada Park’s Website and also make sure to download their preparation guide.
- West Coast Trail Facebook Group – Join the West Coast Trail Beautiful British Columbia Facebook group here.
- Visit the BC Adventure Smart Website. Quality and reputable safety advice. They offer many free courses in safety as well.
Check out what was in our West Coast Trail Backpacks!
Thinking about hiking the West Coast Trail? Check out our Guide to the West Coast Trail.
Want to our gear list for backpacking? Download our Backcountry Packing List.
Download our Food list here which includes calorie count per member of our family here!