How to Find Family-Friendly Bikepacking Trails

How to Find Family-Friendly Bikepacking Trails

How to Find Family-Friendly Bikepacking Trails

Bikepacking adventures have gained popularity among both avid, hardcore cyclists and outdoor-loving families alike. But what exactly is “bikepacking”? It’s just what it sounds like. A combination of all-terrain cycling and backpacking. The main difference is that instead of carrying your gear on your back, you secure the majority of your gear to your bike or inside an attached trailer. This allows you to cover more ground in less time while still enjoying the nature you ride past.

Can you Really Bikepack with Kids?

The short answer is yes, with some planning and preparation you can have a blast bikepacking as a family! And you don’t need to venture out on a weeklong grueling excursion to the backcountry to make it happen. In fact, you may be surprised at the available routes nearby for 2-3 day bikepacking adventures! Read on for some tips and resources for choosing a family-friendly bikepacking route to fit your family’s needs.

What to Look for in a Family-Friendly Bikepacking Route

The first thing you need to decide is how your kids will be traveling. Will they be riding their own bike? Riding in a trailer pulled by your bike? A combination of both? Once you figure this out, you can start your search for routes in your preferred area. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a bikepacking route for your family:

Vehicle Traffic

Cars and kids on bikes are a scary mix. Look for a route that has little to no traffic along the way if possible. If you need to travel through urban sections, seek out routes that have well-established bike paths and lanes to keep the kids as safe as possible.

Elevation Change

If you have little kids riding their own bikes, kids who are not accustomed to elevation gains, or you’re carting a heavy load (such as a bike trailer), look for routes that are relatively flat with low elevation gain. Another option is to start your journey at a higher elevation and travel downhill to your ending point. You can read this trip report to discover how Tavis and Will did this on their bikepacking adventure to Jemez Springs.


If you are traveling with young kids on their own bikes or a trailer attached to your bike, you’ll want to seek out smoother trails with minimal washboarding or loose gravel. This can help prevent accidents and make the ride more enjoyable for everyone.

A man on a bike hauling a Burley Trailer next to a child riding a bike on a wide trail

Proximity to a Water Source

With an already heavy load, you won’t want to haul an excessive amount of water on top of it! Instead, look for a route that offers water sources along the way and filter your water as needed. This could be a lake, river, creek, etc. Just be sure to filter, boil, or purify your water before drinking from a natural water source!

Fun Stops Along the Way

This is huge when you have kids in tow! A little research will show you if there are caves, waterfalls, fossil beds, or other natural points of interest along the way. If your route passes through an urban section, seek out a coffee or sweets shop to grab a treat and take a break along the way.

Camping Availability

You’ll want a route that has established, dispersed, or backcountry camping sites along the way, and make a reservation in advance if needed. Even with dispersed and backcountry sites, you may need a permit or reservation to camp in the area.

A man setting up a tent near a tree next to a bike with a Burley trailer attached to it

How to Find Trails Near You

With the above factors in mind, it’s time to find a trail that will fit your needs. Here are some helpful resources to help you find your next family bikepacking route:

This website has an extensive number of bikepacking routes from avid bikpackers around the world. Many of the routes listed are intense, but if you click on the “overnighters” tab, you can find some more family-friendly options near you. 

Bikepacking Roots

Bikepacking Roots is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting bikepackers from all walks of life. They create and maintain high-quality bikepacking routes to connect people with the wonders of the outdoors. Check out the interactive map on their website for bikepacking routes near you.

Trail Link

The Trail Link app and website are a wonderful resource for finding nearby biking trails along with information on trail surface, distance, allowed activities, etc. This app is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and aids in its goal to create safe ways for people to walk, bike, and be active outdoors. One of the most helpful features of TrailLink is the reviews from other users, which can provide recent trail conditions along with potential spots to stop along the way (such as local campgrounds).

A map showing the Great American Rail Trail Route from the Rails to Trails Conservancy

Public Lands Websites

There are a plethora of possible bikepacking routes that utilize federally protected public lands. With a little research, you can find a route that works and information on camping along the way. Here is a list of Public Land agencies along with helpful links for planning your adventure:

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Most of the BLM land allows dispersed camping without a permit, and they also manage several developed campgrounds. Check out this website for some of the popular mountain bike trail network maps on BLM land.
  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS) – You can find both developed and dispersed camping sites on USFS land. For developed camping sites along with biking routes, check out this interactive map. For dispersed camping site locations, contact USFS offices in the location you will be visiting.
An image of the interactive map on the US Forest Service Website

Social Media

Social media sites such as Facebook are great places to enlist the help of your local community to find a bikepacking route near you. You can ask local outdoor or bikepacking groups to see if anyone has a route they love or ask for tips on bikepacking with kids in your area.

Hit the Bikepacking Trail With Your Family This Season!

We hope these tips and resources have inspired you to try bikepacking with your family! If the thought of outfitting your family with bikepacking gear seems a little intimidating, you won't want to miss our ultimate bikepacking giveaway. Running from August 10-17, seven lucky winners will walk away with some awesome bikepacking gear, including a grand prize totaling over $3,000 in gear!

Check out this post for instructions on how to enter and to see all the epic gear included!