When Joey Johnson moved to Provo several years ago, she tried playgroups to meet other moms and kids, but she felt like she didn’t mesh with anyone — she wanted to get outside and be active with her son. Eventually she found a group of like-minded moms in Salt Lake that were part of Hike It Baby, and now she runs a chapter of the group in Utah Valley.
Since September, Johnson and other moms meet twice a week to walk or hike with their kids in Utah Valley. Since it started snowing they’ve been walking about two miles every Monday and Wednesday on the Provo River Trail, starting at the Geneva Road parking lot.
“It’s really just about getting the kiddos outside,” Johnson said. “If you get outside, that’s the whole point.”
They’ll always have a goal mileage or destination, but don’t always make it that far, she said. “We don’t leave any hikers behind. We go at the slowest person’s pace.”
Some of the events — like the Provo River Trail walks — are stroller-friendly. Others require moms to wear their babies in backpacks or other carriers; Johnson uses a lillebaby carrier for her two-year-old. Each event listing gives details about whether it’s stroller-accessible, pace, bathrooms and other amenities. Hikers also need to sign a waiver on the site.
Johnson said she gets the word out about the hikes through hikeitbaby.com as well as any Facebook mom groups she can find. The Utah Valley group averages about five moms per hike, and it has 368 members. And in the last three weeks, there’s been at least one new mom every time, so the group is growing. The first Hike It Baby chapter, founded in Portland, Oregon in 2013, gets 100 or more parents at each event.
The group’s first specialty hike will be on Jan. 29 — snowshoeing at Big Springs, Johnson said. “It’s exciting; I’ve never done it before. It’s going to be really fun.”
Other than the snowshoeing outing, the group likely will stick to the paved Provo trail while the mountains are covered with snow. But as soon as they can, they’ll hit some mountain trails. So far they’re planning to hike to Stewart Falls and Cecret Lake, and Johnson also wants to hike to Catherine, Mary and Martha lakes. “Those are planned as soon as we can get up there in the spring, when it’s a little bit warmer.”
In addition to the weekly hikes, Hike It Baby also sponsors four challenges a year where people are asked to hike or walk 30 miles in 30 days, or spend a certain amount of time outside each week. Johnson did her first challenge in September, and ended up walking 104 miles that month, all while carrying her son.
Hike It Baby now has 186 branches in five countries, with 65,000 families on its Facebook groups, Johnson said. There are an average of 50 Hike It Baby hikes every day in the U.S. For more information about the group and hikes, go to hikeitbaby.com/find-your-city.