Of all the outdoor activities you can do with your kids, hiking is one of the best options to consider. Hiking has become much more popular over the last few years and there are tons of trails out there that are perfect for young children and novice hikers.
Of course, even when you're hiking a beginner-friendly trail, it's still important to take precautions and make sure everyone is prepared for what nature has to offer.
If you've never hiked with kids before and want to make sure you have everything you need, keep reading. Listed below are some helpful tips that will make hiking with kids easier and more enjoyable (for them and for you).
Benefits of Hiking with Kids
There are lots of reasons to take your kids on more hiking trips. Some of the greatest benefits of hiking with kids include the following:
- It's a great form of exercise
- It helps to build self-confidence
- It teaches them to appreciate nature
- It allows everyone to unplug
This last benefit is especially important. These days, the average kid spends more than eight hours per day looking at screens!
If you want them to spend less time staring at a screen, you need to provide them with a fun and rewarding alternative, and hiking is the perfect solution.
Tips for Hiking with Kids
Okay, you're convinced that it's a good idea to take your kids out on a hike once in a while. You might also be feeling overwhelmed at the idea of trying to manage your kids out in the woods, though.
There are lots of ways you can make hiking more accessible to yourself and your kids. Here are some tips that will help you out:
Choose Kid-Friendly Hikes
These days, it's easy to do some research online and choose hikes that are most suitable to your kids. Look at ratings for different hikes and find out which ones other hikers have deemed kid-friendly.
You may also want to look for hikes that end with something fun for your kids to look forward to like a waterfall or a rock formation. Have something to see at the end of the trail can help to keep them engaged and eager to keep pressing forward.
Set Realistic Expectations
It's best to set the bar low when you're hiking with kids.
They might not be able to walk as far as you, or they might not have a lot of interest in the sites you see along the way or the final destination. Go in with realistic expectations and be willing to turn around altogether if the situation calls for it.
It might be frustrating, especially if you have to drive a long way to get to the trailhead. As long as you all got out and spent some time in nature, though, you can consider it a win.
Plan Lots of Stops
Look at the trail carefully before you head out on your hike. While you're examining the trail, make plans to stop at regular intervals. This will give everyone a chance to rest, get some water, eat a snack, and enjoy the view.
Don't worry about completing the hike by a specific time. If you give everyone plenty of opportunities to enjoy the journey, they'll be more likely to want to go back for more hikes in the future.
Bring Snacks and Water
Make sure you have plenty of snacks for your kids to enjoy while on the hike. Bring lots of water, too. Even for short hikes, it helps to have adequate sustenance (and, let's face it, you might need to bribe your kids at some point to encourage them to keep going).
There are lots of games you can play to keep your kids engaged while on the hike. "I Spy" is a classic that helps kids focus on nature and pay attention to their surroundings. Storytelling games are often a hit, too.
Pack a First Aid Kit
Always bring a first aid kit, no matter how short or simple your hike is supposed to be.
You never know when your child (or you) is going to get a cut or a scraped knee. If you have a first aid kit, you can easily take care of the issue and get them back on their feet in no time at all.
Use a Carrier for Small Children
Consider bringing a backpack carrier for small children.
Even if they insist that they can walk the whole way on their own, you never know when they're going to give up and demand to be carried.
A backpack carrier will make things much more comfortable for you and help you keep pressing forward on your hike.
Invest in the Right Gear
It's a good idea to learn moreabout the hiking gear kids and adults ought to have with them on the trail, too.
Even if you're not planning on doing any long hikes, it still pays to be prepared. Invest in a good hiking backpack (and consider buying your kids their own backpacks, too) as well as some sturdy hiking shoes that will provide everyone with plenty of traction.
It might seem silly to spend a lot of money on gear when you're hiking very simple trails.
Remember, though, that safety should be your number one priority. You're also making an investment for the future when you and your kids will be able to handle more difficult trails.
Start Hiking Today
If you want your kids to get active and enjoy the great outdoors more often, taking them on hikes is one of the best things you can do.
Keep these tips for hiking with kids in mind so you help everyone to stay safe and have a great time while out on the trail.
Written by Cascia Talbert for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.