When to Go Hiking with Children
www.WillhiteWeb.com: Hiking, Climbing and Travel
When to go depends on where you live but my advice below should get you thinking about this wherever you are.
March - May
June - September
October - November
December - February
If you're doing a day trip you'll want to purposely get a late start to take advantage of the afternoon sun and warmth. Plan on hiking around noon or one and depending on how long it takes to drive to the location, that's your departure time. I try to keep these trips short. If you are camping, snowpacks will keep you at a low elevation where it will be warmer. Nights can still be quite cool. Look for hikes on southern exposures where the snow may have melted. This is a time to do low elevation stuff that may not be that appealing during the summer when higher elevation trips are abundant.
Day trips in these months should be late starts taking advantage of the afternoon sun and warmth. Again, plan on hiking around noon or one and depending on how long it takes to get to the location, that's your departure time. During these months, you may have great access to higher altitudes that you didn't during the spring time. Although it might be fairly warm out it's often cold in the shade especially if clouds come around. Try to pick a trip with little tree cover and keep the trips a bit shorter than what you may have been doing during the summer months. Camping with the kids in fall can be a real pain because you may have camp set up around dark but the kids may not be tired until later. It's also much colder at night. The bright side is that many roads are open and accessible because of hunting season and most public campgrounds are vacant.
A daytrip during these months for me is an early start to avoid the heat. These are the best months as you can hike, climb or sightseeing places from sunrise to sunset without much to worry about (accept too much sun). This is also the best time to camp with the kids because you have daylight until late into the evening (closer to their bedtime).
Winter can be tough. Even I loose the motivation to get outside with my kids during this time. When the conditions are good, I'll make a trip out. Good conditions are the sun shining, calm winds and good road conditions. Even with this, if there is snow everywhere accessing a trail or route up something might not be possible. A visit to Arizona might not be a bad idea.