Hiking the Appalachian Trail with a baby: a guide


The Appalachian Trail is a five to seven-month, 2000-mile trek spanning Georgia to Maine. “Thru-hikers” carry their belongings and camp along the way, occasionally sleeping in hostels and hotels when the trail runs through a town. Because the terrain is so grueling – with an elevation gain and loss of roughly 500,000 feet – only about 25% of thru-hikers end up finishing.

In 2017, Bekah and Derrick Quirin set out to become the first parents to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail with a baby. But after trekking for six months with their 1-year-old daughter, Ellie, they faced an unexpected roadblock. Due to its 5269-foot altitude, children under six aren’t allowed to summit Maine’s Mount Katahdin. So Bekah and Derrick left Ellie in the care of her grandmother and hiked the final miles of their journey alone.

But they didn’t give up on their original goal. This past August, Ellie turned six and the three Quirins returned to the trail for just one day – this time leaving their 1-year-old, Roan, with a babysitter – to finish the last leg of their journey as a family.

Here’s the Quirin’s story, along with top tips and advice for navigating some of the world’s greatest hikes with a baby in tow. 

How to successfully travel with your infant 

The Quirin's adventurous daughter, EllieThe Quirin’s adventurous daughter, Ellie © Bekah and Derrick Quirin / Lonely Planet

How do I get in shape to carry my baby on a long hike? 

Before embarking on their Appalachian Trail quest, Bekah made a point to spend time carrying Ellie around the house – and on shorter hikes – in her carrier. “It helped me physically get ready. And then it also helped her feel at home in the backpack.” While…

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