Get Involved with Family Backpacking

Interested in sharing the joy of the outdoors with your young ones and other backpacking families? Get involved with Mountaineers family backpacking!
Birgit Grimlund Birgit Grimlund
Youth & Family Backpack Leader and Super Volunteer
February 08, 2024
Get Involved with Family Backpacking
An intrepid band of camp warriors. Ingalls Creek, July 2023. Photo by Sunny Lee.

100 backpacks with kids and teens and counting! And at least that many trail meltdowns… but also thousands of smiles and expressions of awe at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, interesting trail conversations, unplugged spontaneous games (think fresh mud burgers served on flat rocks), and watching skills and confidence grow with each trip.

My first 85 or so backpacks were with my own family and friends. Then, I joined The Mountaineers as a way to support my son in the youth clubs and quickly found a community of parents and young people who shared my passion for the outdoors. Backpacking has been such a transformative experience for my family. If you're interested in learning how to get outside with your family, here's how!

Register for the Backpacking With Kids Course

Our dedicated group of parents and backpack leaders (including Erica An Rickard, Tom Robey, Andrew Snoey, Jeni Brink, and Olga Kuznetsova) is excited for another year of the Backpacking with Kids course. This course is for those with some backpacking experience who would like to gain confidence backpacking with their kids and find a family backpacking community. Registration for the 2024 course is now open!

Register Now

The course starts in late-March with an online interactive seminar that includes topics ranging from reasons to backpack with kids to strategies for successful trips to gear/location resources. In May, there will be a skills carnival where families can learn hands-on wilderness skills activities, LNT principles, and packing strategies. The magic really happens at the backpacking trips. Hyas Lake, Mirror Lake, Baker Lake, and the Ozette Triangle are family trip standards. Depending on enrollment, we hope to open these trips to the greater Mountaineers family community after initial enrollment by course families.   

Our Family Backpacking Community is Growing

Family backpacking is in its “early walking” stages at The Mountaineers, but it’s been growing. I did a search on family backpacks offered over the last 10 years (not including trips within the youth clubs or within courses): 2014-2017 (0), 2018 (3), 2019 (2), 2020 (1), 2021 (4), 2022(6), and 2023 (7). Family backpack leaders have doubled in the last few years, and a good number of new leaders are alums from the Foothills Backpacking with Kids course. We hope to continue to grow the family backpacking community. 

Over the last two years, we welcomed 78 participants in our Backpacking with Kids course, representing 28 families who attended an online seminar, skills carnival, and completed backpacking trips. One almost-three-year-old successfully completed four trips! Participant families from previous years and the greater Mountaineers community joined several of the course trips as well. It was a joy to see kids show off their new wilderness skills. One six-year-old even proudly showed me their Leave No Trace skills as they dug a cathole in preparation of potty needs. 

If you have little hikers or teens who love the outdoors, consider joining us this year for the Backpacking with Kids course. You’ll get to unplug, expose your kids to the joys of being outdoors, be together as a family, and watch your children mature into outdoor enthusiasts. 

If you’d like to learn more about essential skills for hiking or backpacking with kids but aren’t ready to commit to a full course, register for Olympia's Family Outdoor Skills Workshop or their evening Backpacking with Kids Zoom session planned for later in the spring.

How to find family backpacking (or family hikes) on the Mountaineers website

  • Go to Find Activities > Backpacking (or Day Hiking) > Family.
  • Check periodically. Trips are just starting to be posted for later this spring and summer.


Find Family Backpacks & Day Hikes

FOr Leaders: how to post a family friendly trip

  • Anyone with a Backpacking (or Hiking) Leader badge and a Qualified Youth Leader badge can post a trip to include family and youth.
  • Leadership pathways also include a dedicated Youth and Family Backpacking (or Hiking) Leader badge. Please contact me at if you would like more information.
  • Categorization is important – make sure to add a “Family” tag.