One little hike at a time with Hike It Baby

Are you interested in getting out on the trail with your little ones but are a bit apprehensive about taking the first step? Or maybe you’re an experienced hiker but just want to meet like-minded families for a walk in the woods? Hike It Baby, a nonprofit organization devoted to connecting families, getting them outside, and cultivating a generation who loves the outdoors might be just what you're looking for.

It all started in 2013 when Portland-based founder Shanti Hodges was looking for a way to get outside with fellow new families in her area.  What began as a casual meet up among local friends, quickly grew into a large community of families across the country. Currently, Hike It Baby has over 300 branches (including five groups in Montana) and nearly 180,000 families involved. The organization is proud to host over 3,000 free hikes a month, and there's no sight of slowing down.

Getting Started with Hike It Baby

So how does it all work? To become a member, first register online at hikeitbaby.com to find or host hikes in your area.  The organization relies on volunteers to make this happen and is not restricted to moms and dads, either. Grandparents, nannies, caregivers, family members, and friends can all participate. The idea is that no family is left behind. Hike It Baby prides itself on being friendly, all-inclusive, and judgment-free. There are no age limits (young or old), and all abilities are welcome. Out of respect for the littlest members of the pack, hikes, walks, and strolls are limited to five miles.

Once registered online, members have access to a calendar of hikes and events in their region.  Five areas are currently represented in the Treasure State: Billings, Bozeman, Helena, Anaconda, and Missoula. If there isn’t a local group in your area, Hike It Baby encourages Ambassadors to get one started. 

After the 90-day trial expires, participants are asked to contribute $10 per family to maintain membership. In addition to the calendar access, members get to enjoy virtual challenges for motivation and a one-year digital subscription to Backpacker Magazine. Higher levels of membership are also available and offer a few more perks like free memberships to sponsor other families, free Hike It Baby stickers and patches, and merchandise discounts. 

In addition to nurturing a community of families experiencing the wonders of nature, the organization offers a mountain of knowledge and support on their website’s blog. Everything from the best baby hiking gear to outdoor-inspired art projects for toddlers, it provides a wealth of information and inspiration to get our children outside. 

Just like toddlers learning to walk, those first steps can be daunting. Thanks to a group like Hike It Baby, no matter our experience, we can all get out on the trail for a fun, healthy, and safe experience. 

about the author...Maria Weidich resides in Billings but feels most at home backpacking in the Beartooths.

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s April 2018 issue.

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