10 Tips on Hiking with Kids


10 Tips on hiking with kids.

Do you love hiking with your kids?  Have you had great experiences or ones so disastrous to the point you will not attempt it again?  There is definitely an art to hiking with kids, one that involves planning and patience.  But it’s worth it.  Proper planning will insure a successful and enjoyable hike.  Hiking with kids is such a wonderful experience to see the world through their eyes as well inspire them to appreciate the environment and lead them into a lifetime of adventure.

Typically people associate hiking with summer months, however, here in Arizona our prime hiking months are October to April.  Now that the temperatures are consistently low my kids and I are out hiking as much as we can.  What kid does not love the outdoors and adventure?  Yes, computers, video games, DVDs, and television are facts of life.  But they’re not life itself.  Hiking pulls the plug on possible media addiction and helps get your kids outside and active.

We have spent many hours out on the trails and have experienced many different scenarios.  After reading my top 10 tips for hiking with kids please feel free to share and comment below with what has worked for your family.

  1. IMG_0078Start hiking with your kids as early as you are comfortable.  We started hiking with our kids when they were infants, carrying them in packs.  When they were toddlers we would start the hike carrying them, hike as far as we would like, and then lift them out of the carrier to allow them to finish the hike with us.  This way they were still being exposed to the outdoors but not overwhelmed with hiking too far.  Understand that once their two feet are on the ground, the pace DRAMATICALLY slows as it should.  Don’t be afraid to start too early.
  2. Plan your hike and choose a destination.  Build the anticipation of hiking with your kids.  You may even want to call it something other than hiking; sometimes kids hear the word hike and immediately think of long arduous miles.  You can call it adventuring.  If they are old enough let them be apart of choosing the destination. If they are not, I recommend choosing a hike close to home the first few times.  Do some research about what is in the area so you can educate them on the foliage that you will see.  You can even plan a scavenger hunt or teach them about geocaching.
  3. Prepare ahead of time so you are not rushing to get out the door and forget something.  Preparing for a hike with kids takes some thought.  You will need snacks, gear, maps, water, and possibly a change of clothes and shoes.
  4. Pack lots of snacks.  Hiking with kids takes more mental energy for you but more physical energy for them.  Nuts, dried fruit, M&M’s, granola bars, crackers are all big hits with my crew.  I usually have them help pack up the snacks.  If you take fruit be prepared to hike out what ever peels or cores you have.  So take a food store bag for your trash.
  5. No matter how young they are, give them something to carry.  You can find tiny packs or sling bags for them.  Give them a snack, their water, their jacket or anything to carry.   It makes them feel special and that they are an important part.  Kids love gear just like we do,  some ideas are kid hydration packs, headlamp, or special water bottle.  They would also love binoculars, a magnifying glass, and a field book to help identify things they will see.  Lastly, cameras are always a hit.
  6. IMG_0095Embrace the pace set by your kids.  Be prepared for frequent stops, not getting a workout in, and not reaching your predetermined destination.   If you push it, you are likely to turn your kids off forever.  The want an adventure and to be able to explore.  As they get older then you can push and encourage them along but don’t rush the process of them learning to enjoy hiking and being in nature.  The younger they are the more stops you will make to investigate a bug, a leaf, a rock, a tree…the list goes on.
  7. Be sure to carry plenty of water.  They can learn to carry their own in any form of a hydration pack.  Giving them their own to be responsible for is teaching them good habits early on.  I typically pack extra water to leave in a cooler in the car so we have some upon our return.
  8. Check the weather and be sure to take appropriate clothing.  I recommend leaving a set of clean clothes in the car in case an accident happens out on the trail.  We have been hiking where we crossed creeks many times and everyone ends up wet at some point.  As far as shoes, a good running shoe will be fine.  There is no need to buy hiking boots for your kids unless you have the means or plan to hike a lot.  But once again, pack an extra pair in the car to change into once you are done hiking.  Lastly, if you are carrying your toddler in a carrier, consider putting him or her in pants that have extra long legs or ones that are a size bigger.  When they are riding in the carrier their pant legs creep up and expose their little legs.  Then when they get down to hike you can change their pants or roll the legs up.
  9. Sunscreen, do not forget this.  Most people associate sunscreen with swimsuit season but you need all year round.  Even bring hats and sunglasses.
  10.  Let kids be kids, they do not always get that their is a destination to reach.  Let them explore bugs, leaves, trees, and all there is to see.  Let them climb rocks and hang out for a bit.  Introduce them to geocaching so they are looking for specific treasure.  Take this time to teach them outdoor etiquette and about not leaving a trace.

Enjoy the moment.  The little seeds you are planting now will harvest an outdoor enthusiast.  You are making memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy Trails.

About sherianne

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is SheriAnne Nelson and I am happily married to my husband Mike. I’m a mother of three beautiful children ages 9, almost 6, and 3, am a passionate fitness professional, and a Star Diamond Level fitness coach within the Team Beachbody program in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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