The summer months are popular for hiking -- meaning lots of bumping into people on the trail, and making sure you are not in anyone's way. If you have small children, this can be especially challenging, and might even discourage families from getting out on the trail in the first place.
Because of this, I prefer to hit the trails with my kids on days when the weather typically keeps the crowds away. Sure, being in the woods on a bright, clear, sunny day is lovely, but there is something magical about embracing a rainy day in the forest.
I understand rain and mud usually means grimy children, and that might deter you from venturing out into the forest. However, with the right mindset -- and the right gear -- you and your family can enjoy a rainy day hike.
No matter the weather, hiking means wearing the right clothes and carrying the right gear. While, I often dress my kids in waterproof pants, regardless of the forecast, they are especially helpful on rainy days when keeping them dry is important. A sturdy rain coat and rain boots (or water shoes if its hot) are also must-haves.
Remember, you will be trudging through the same mud, so make sure your own clothes and shoes are suitable for wet weather.
Expect Some Mess
Even if you are all dressed in the best gear, you are guaranteed to come home with kids smeared in mud and grime. Don't be alarmed when you pull off a boot and find it filled with an ocean's worth of water. To me these are all signs of a good time. But, they also mean a yucky car and kids whining about cold feet. Because of this, I highly recommend keeping extra dry clothes (including underwear and socks) in your car or on your person if you did not travel to your hiking destination in your own vehicle.
Rainy weather can make the trail extra slick. Wet leaves and grass can be especially slippery, so take your time when moving from one place to the next. Be careful navigating through puddles and streams as they might be deeper than they appear. Most important, if the forecast calls for thunderstorms, do not go out, and if you hear lightning or see thunder while you are out hiking, leave immediately, or seek shelter.
Embrace The Joy
Delight in your children splashing in puddles. Let their giggles fill your soul as they try to catch rain drops on their tongues. Twirl around as the water splashes down on on your faces.
The next time you look out the window and see a few clouds, don't fret, and turn that inside day out.