Hints for Hiking With Children

Ashley B | September 4, 2012 | 13 Comments

Hiking is an excellent outdoor activity. It’s healthy, fun, and invigorating, and it’s a great way to observe and learn about nature. If you’re an avid hiker, you probably can’t wait to introduce your hobby to your kids. Taking your kids hiking is a great idea: You’ll be introducing them to a hobby that will be both enjoyable and good for them, and you’ll get some quality time together into the bargain. You may be wondering, though, what the best way is to introduce them to your favorite pastime. Here are some tips to help you help your kids develop a love of hiking.

  • Clothing and shoes. It’s very important that your kids be in comfortable clothes and proper footwear. An uncomfortable child is an unhappy child, and an unhappy, complaining child won’t be any fun on a hike.  Choose long pants that will protect against bug bites and scratches and make sure that nothing is too tight or otherwise uncomfortable. For short, uncomplicated hikes, sneakers are fine, but for longer walks or trickier trails, kids should have properly fitting hiking boots.
  • Pack a backpack. Make sure you’ll bring everything you and your kids may need on the hike. Bring plenty of snacks and bottled water, because you’ll definitely need them. Trail mix, peanut butter crackers, dried fruit, and granola bars all make wonderful hiking snacks. These will help keep their energy, as well as yours, up for the hike. Sunscreen and bug spray are also very important, even in the fall. The last thing you want is a nasty sunburn or a mess of mosquito bites to remember you hike by. Finally, bring a first aid kit, just in case.
  • Hiking sticks. Everybody going on the hike should have a hiking stick. These are useful for balance and support along the trail. You can buy manmade hiking sticks, or just look outside for smooth, sturdy wooden branches. A child’s hiking stick should be a comfortable weight and narrow enough to grasp comfortably.
  • Plan a kid-friendly route. Remember that your children are new to this, and start with shorter distances. You’ll also have to plan for traveling at a child’s pace. Take plenty of breaks, and don’t expect to do a lot of brisk walking. Instead, take the time to point out different kinds of plants and wildlife. Show your kids how to look for signs left by animals, such as tracks, feathers, fur, or claw scratches. Bring along a field guide to flowers, birds or wildlife common to your area. You’ll be surprised by what their observant little eyes will find once they know what to look for.

Your kids will probably want to pick up pretty or interesting leaves, pebbles, and other things along the way, but check first to see if this is allowed. In state parks, you’re normally not allowed to leave anything other than footprints, nor to take anything other than photos. They can draw pictures of their treasures in a notebook and leave the specimens behind. With the proper planning and preparation, you may find that hiking becomes a favorite pastime for the entire family.

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  1. Rose Wendy says:

    These are family-friendly tips! Thanks for the post!

  2. Carrie says:

    You have great tips! My parents use to take my hiking and it use to scare me as they would make me go to fast and I would hyperventilate. Like you said, it was important to do kid friendly hikes!

  3. heather hrpcha says:

    great tips

  4. Rebecca says:

    Great ideas – I always feel like a horrible mom, because I somehow always manage to forget the sunscreen! Good reminder of all the things necessary to pack with kids.

  5. natalia ellin says:

    great tips thank you so much!

  6. Megan says:

    Great suggestions! Hiking is a great family activity as long as expectations of speed and distance are realistic for all involved!

  7. Lucy Black says:

    Excellent tips! Thank you so much for this post, we love hiking!

  8. Carla Bonesteel says:

    I grew up in the woods…and myself and my siblings and cousins were allowed to go hiking alone from the time we were very young…our parents taught us well!

  9. Ella Bryant says:

    What an informative article! I have been wanting to do this with my little one who is really getting into exploring-on his own 2 feet! I like the backpack list & the walking stick. Very sensible. Thanks for post.

  10. Patricia Williams says:

    Our 4yr old has started taking small hikes with us. He loves it in the woods. He is a collector so we come home with pockets and backpack full of interesting things. Thanks for the tips.

  11. We love hiking as a family. These are great tips! Take plenty of water!

  12. Amanda says:

    Great tips! I love to go hiking and would love to do it with my kids too!

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