Trail running tips for stroller pushing parents

Before I had kids I was trail running almost daily.  I live in Colorado where I am surrounded by steep and rocky trails, and after my 2nd son was born I was wondering how I would keep up my favorite past-time with a double jogging stroller.

Well, I am here to tell you that trail running with kids is easier than you think!  Here are 7 tips to help you get back out on the trails:

#1.  Get a good stroller.

The word “good” is relative in this sentence.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a stroller; sometimes a second hand stroller might be better for trail running; the trail is going to beat it up.

Ensure the stroller has knobby tires, front shocks and good suspension; it is important for the snow and ice.

Stroller Hack: If you can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a new stroller, but want to ensure your stroller is ready for stroller trail running regardless of the climate. Switch your wheels out. Purchase knobby tires from your local bike shop for the back tires and purchase a BOB front wheel. It is significantly cheaper than buying a new stroller.

#2:  Strap em’ in and lock it up:

You may be thinking “of course”, but you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t strap in their kids.  On a trail that is rocky or with any kind of incline/decline make sure that they are in tight!   If you have a front tire that has a swivel option, make sure that it is locked.  This will ensure that when you hit bumps or rocks the front tire goes straight over them, giving you and your kids a smoother ride.


You can even trail run with kids in the snow!

#3:  Find a trail:

If you are in front range Colorado, several of my favorites are:

 Bluffs Regional Park (Lone Tree):  If you are seeking a challenge, the Bluffs is the place to go!  This 2.7 mile loop includes several steep hills where you can practice your power hiking stroller pushing skills.   The trail is basically a dirt road, wide and smooth with views of the Rockies and Denver.   Enjoy the prairie landscape and the large populations of deer that reside in the park.
 Flying J Ranch (Conifer):  Park in the Junction house trailhead lot and take the Junction house trail to the Shadow pine loop for an easy 4ish miles that is easily wide enough for a double stroller.  This trail is relatively mild with minimal rocks and roots and winds through gorgeous lodgepole and ponderosa pine forests.
–  South Valley Park (Littleton):   Park in the south Valley lot and take the Coyote song trail from the parking lot, enjoy a long, exhilarating downhill with views of the iconic red rock formations and then jump onto the Swallow trail back to the lot for a short but sweet 2 mile loop.  Watch out for coyotes and rattlesnakes!
–  Waterton Canyon (Littleton):  Not necessarily a “trail run” but a great place to fit in a long, easy run through this gorgeous canyon.  Run along the platte river and be on the lookout for big horn sheep!  You will frequently see them on the road and along the ridgelines.   This smooth gravel road goes for 6+ miles and ends at the Colorado trailhead, get in your own stroller half marathon!
–  Meyers Ranch Park (Conifer):  Take the Owls Perch to the Lodge Pole Loop trail.  This 2ish mile stretch involves a little climbing and some rocky sections but is still very stroller friendly.   I take my boys out there in my double BOB double all the time and they love the bumps and getting out and running the downhill sections with me.
Bear Creek Lake Park (Lakewood):  There is a fee for this city park so unless you have a pass or want to pay the $10 entrance fee, park in the dirt lot across from the Conoco off Morrison rd and C-470.   Cross Morrison onto the bike path that leads into the park. 
Then find the old Fitness trail in the West side of the park.  It is wide, smooth and relatively flat dirt path.  The trail parallels Bear Creek and a large deciduous forest.   Take a break and play in the cool water on a hot summer day or enjoy the vibrant colors in the fall.

You may also need to change your mind set about what is “stroller-friendly”.  There could be a rocky trail near you that you wouldn’t have considered pushing a stroller up but you will never know if you can do it until you try.

#4:  Got Brakes?

If possible, ensure you get a stroller with a hand brake. Note, if you are purchasing an older model jogging stroller second hand, they might not have a hand brake. Therefore, ensure you wear the safety strap tightly around your wrist when running on the trails to help stop the stroller easier.

#5:  It’s all about that form, bout’ the form, no stop’in.

When going up steep hills, lean into the stroller and straighten your arms so all the weight isn’t in your biceps and keep moving.  You need forward momentum to keep that stroller from rolling backwards so don’t stop until you get to the top!

When running on steep downhill’s with a jogging stroller, lean back slightly and take short, quick steps.  Let your quads do the work to slow you down.

caitlin run 2

If rockstar trail runner Caitlin can trail run pushing 3 kids, so can you!

#6:  Learn how to do high rocks and stairs:

You can push a jogging stroller, especially a single jogger on most hiking trails- it just depends on how adventurous you are.  If you come up on some rocky sections, don’t turn back.  Here are a couple tips that will help you conquer those rocks and keep on trekking!

  • Lift the front tire up the rock and once it is on top or over the rock lift the back tires up and over, repeat this motion until you are over the rocks or up the stairs.  This isn’t fast but it works.  If you look like you are inch-worming the stroller up the rocks then you are doing it right.  Just think about how much of a great upper body workout you are getting!
  • On steep, rocky downhill’s it is also easier and safer to lift the front tire and slowly let the back tires drop down from rock to rock
  • If it gets too hairy, get the kiddos out.  Push the stroller through the difficult section and then go back for the kids (or if they are old enough have them hike that part on their own)

#7:  No headphones:

The point of trail running is to access places deep in nature.  Take this time to immerse yourself in the beauty and sounds of wildlife all around you.  This is also the perfect opportunity to connect with your kids on a more fundamental level.  I Spy is a great one to play when on trails.  Help to expand their world by expanding yours!

#8:  Stuck on the pavement: 

Sometimes you just can’t make it out to the trails and that’s okay, there are many ways to make your road running fun for the kids and productive for your training too!  Plan a route that goes by at least 2 playgrounds where you can stop and let the kids play while you complete conditioning exercises like step-ups, lunges and planks- all important to prepare those leg muscles for tough mountain races!  Find many more ideas on our partner site Running with Kids.

–  Lauren Jones
Life’s 2 Short Fitness and Running with Kids founder, competitive trail runner and mom to 2 trail loving boys!

Now it is time to get out and rock those trails! We’d love to hear about your favorite local stroller friendly hiking or jogging trail.

Extra, Extra!
Okay, now that we’ve talked about how you can spend more time with your kids by sharing your trail running hobby and passion with them in tow, let’s get down to what you really want: To hit the trails again solo, or even better with a group of new friends who share your love of the outdoors!

Colorado ladies, check out our Women’s trail running training group (where we meet 2-3 times a week for coached runs at different trails across the front range) or our Women’s beginner trail running course (for those new to the trails or who want to improve their rock hopping skills.  This course pairs clinics with expert guest speakers + coached runs).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *