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Hiking with a toddler

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Hiking with a toddler
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We are going to Yosemite our almost 2 year old daughter at the very end of June. She does well in the hiking backpack (hiked with her at Glacier last year and in Hawaii in January) but she does need to get out periodically to move. Is there anywhere along the nevada/vernal falls trail to allow this? Her safety is our priority, of course. Approximately how long does the actual steep stretch up the falls take? Just trying to gauge if this will be doable with her this summer. I'm hoping the John Muir trail on the way down will allow for some time for her to get her wiggles out. She does well when there are people around and things to look at while in the carrier but can get fussy if it is "boring" in her eyes. If anyone has suggestions for how to keep a toddler "entertained" while in a hiking backpack I'd appreciate that too! Thanks for sharing any advice you may have!

9 replies to this topic
Santa Clara...
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1. Re: Hiking with a toddler
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Wore my now 3y up that trail x 2 at 18m and 2.5y. Might do it again in July when she is 3y and with a 1 month old. Both times were in August. I have been doing Mist Trail since I was a teenager and we have been going yearly for past 15 years and have done this almost every visit even before kids.

The actual stairs part is very short. I think you can actually "hike" on Google Streetview. I am a shortie at 5ft 3in so some of the steps are very tall and it was hard to do with a toddler on my back so I took a long of breaks. But that is the only part plus the narrow one way granite vertigo inducing part that the toddler must be in your backpack,

My daughter at 2.5y walked from the Curry Village parking lot to Happy Isles trailhead and up parts of the trail to the first foot bridge. The trail up to the foot bridge is safe for her. As well as the top of Vernal Falls with supervision. We usually lunch up here.

My husband has advanced degrees in biology including ecology so he has endless things to teach her. She knows the difference between moss and lichen. Does your daughter do well with listening and understanding? I talked to her a lot on that first hike up when she was 18 months old. The other people in my party kept her entertained.

Some just gave me this book "I Love Dirt" and there are some good activities in there:

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Dirt-Activities-Discover-Wonders/dp/1590305353

Last summer I tried bribing with M&M and gummi bears to avoid carrying her until later.

And yes you can let her down going up to Clark's Point and down John Muir Trail.

Santa Clara...
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2. Re: Hiking with a toddler
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Use Google Streetview to check out the stairs part of Mist Trail and hike it virtually:

start here: https://goo.gl/maps/AhSyNerwhTkwVVaQ6

Edited: 28 April 2021, 01:47
Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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3. Re: Hiking with a toddler
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Hi Julia

Are you intending to go all the way to the top of Nevada Fall? If so, there are some portions of the Mist Trail in the latter half where I think you & your toddler could stop to walk/explore a bit. Definitely keep to the side away from the river. If she's fast, then consider a safety harness for her as well. (My daughter tripped toward an edge when she was out of the backpack to get her wiggles out. It was over 30 years ago and I will never forget that moment. I did not realize she could move that fast.)

If you're headed toward Clark Point instead, then there may be a few spots and they'll be further from the river, but it's still steep.

The John Muir Trail is away from the water but again, the edge is steep.

There are YouTube videos of the trails as well as well as being on Google Maps street view (drag the little yellow man to the trail.)

I have not specifically looked for "toddler exploration" areas while hiking, so hopefully chinita can offer her first hand experience.

Santa Clara...
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This was my Trip Report for last summer:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k13361911-Live_TR_August_2020_visit_4_nights_with_a_toddler_at_YVL-Yosemite_National_Park_California.html

Not sure if I did one the year before. Can't find it easily if i did.

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5. Re: Hiking with a toddler
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Thank you so much!!! I did the hike about 12 years ago and your description is kind of what I remembered. The google map is very helpful too! I absolutely love the book recommendation and will purchase that now. Our daughter does listen and get engaged well when you point things out to her- she seem to be very detail oriented. She mainly gets bored during long monotonous stretches in the woods with no one around, so I'm hoping the rushing water will keep her entertained on the way up when she absolutely has to be in the pack.

Santa Clara...
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Yes there are steep drop off even in the first part of the trail but we were pretty careful with her and she has been on the trails with us since 2 weeks old so we know her limits. She walked on the first part, at the footbridge/bathroom/water station area (this is the only place to fill up), top of Vernal Falls, parts of the way to Clark's Point, and parts of JMT on the way done. All with close arms length supervision. We never used a harness.

I didn't time it but I don't think it took more than 15 to 20 mins for the actual stairs part.

Santa Clara...
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7. Re: Hiking with a toddler
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The steps part was very entertaining for my daughter. I can't share photos here easily but my favorite photo of us in the hiking backpack is 3/4 ways up Mist Trail with her on my back and a rainbow at the bottom of Vernal Falls from August 2019. She enjoyed water sound and spray but told me to put up the canopy when she got too wet. It can be windy too so bring something to keep the kiddo covered and warm on this part even though you are huffing and puffing as her sweating mule! : )

About shoes for the toddler. She wore Saucony running shoes one day at Mirror Lake and it was SOOOOO slippery on the granite. I put her in Keens sandals with Vibram soles and socks the rest of the time. After that trip, I bought her Merrell low top hiking shoes which we wear all the time on the weekends for hikes and tidepooling. Not sure if you watch PJ Masks but that's one of her favorite shows. First time she put those Merrell hiking shoes on (to Muir Woods), she said she has "Super Gecko feet" and her shoes are sticky so she won't fall.

Edited: 28 April 2021, 02:03
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8. Re: Hiking with a toddler
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That sounds like a beautiful picture of you guys! I'm glad you mentioned the hiking shoes- I hadn't thought of that for a toddler but I'll definitely be ordering her some now! She just loves to run and climb and I want to make sure she has good traction!

San Francisco...
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9. Re: Hiking with a toddler
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At the start of the lower Yosemite Falls trail, there are granite rocks where you daughter might enjoy trying to climb. There’s one where you can slide down too. So if she doesn’t want to be in a carrier all the time, she might enjoy doing that.

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