How Old Should They Be Before They Hike Alone?

Yesterday I told you that M and E had taken their first solo hike together.  Today’s post will be what happened on the trail from Mallory’s point of view.


Dad said that it was more than likely E and I would get lost. He and Mom had hiked the trail the day before. Before our hike, he elaborated on the forks, secret trails, and different misleading signs. He labeled a map for us with warnings and extra trails. It looked like a pirate map. After that, we set out for the trailhead.


It was quite steep starting off and I wondered if I’d totally lost it and couldn’t hike anymore.  Also, I wondered if I’d ever see my parents again. Of course, I’d experienced hiking alone with my sister as in when we run up ahead on trails and leave our parents behind. But never before have my parents been sitting at home while my 12 year old sister and I go hiking.


We met up with some people on horses. The man told us to get to the lower side of the trail and to talk to the horses.  I thought it would look crazy to talk to the horses, so I was relieved when the man asked us where we were going and I didn’t have to think of something to say to his mule. I told him we were hiking to the Foy’s Overlook. The lady that was with him was nice and suggested we write on the Foy’s to Blacktail Project blog.  They are promoting the trail and want trail user feedback. I wondered how to write on someone else’s blog. 

We kept hiking and when we got to the “To Heron” sign it was confusing.  There were two trails, one wide and one skinny.  The GPS got confused too and it looked as though it was telling us to turn around.  We continued to climb, though, and saw the .4 mile marker that led to the overlook.  A family was picnicking at the table up there and we continued to the bench to enjoy the view and eat our sandwiches.

On the way down, we didn’t use the GPS, but used the printed map as we followed the switchbacks.  We thought we may have taken a wrong turn but finally made it to the kiosk where we read the different posters.We took the Direct route down, until we reached a spot in the trail with 4 forks. We picked the Family Trail and headed down to the parking lot.  The day was pretty uneventful.

Mallory looks over the valley.

So what do you think?  How old should they be before they hike alone in the wilderness…along sheer cliffs… on rugged terrain… with grizzly bears lurking about?  After hearing stories like the one about a 15 year old girl who had to be taken out of Glacier NP by Alert helicopter because of a broken ankle and the 17 year old boy that got lost in the Jewel Basin on his first solo hike, I think I’ll let them get a little more practice before I’m comfortable with that.

The Mommy


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