Tips For Hiking With Kids

Hiking with kids can be a rewarding experience with many benefits. Some benefits include getting exercise, spending time off electronics, and fostering a love of nature.

However, hiking with children requires careful planning and preparation to ensure it is enjoyable and safe for everyone.

Here are some tips!

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Plan Ahead

Before hitting the trail, do some research to find a suitable hike. Choose a trail that is appropriate for your child’s age, physical condition, and experience level.

Look for trails that are relatively short, do not have step elevations, and offer interesting features like streams, waterfalls, or wildlife.

Once you have chosen a trail, take a photo of the trail map or save an electronic version to your phone.

There are lots of great resources out there, from Google Maps to hiking apps (such as Alltrails).

Sun Protection

It is important to provide sun protection, which can include sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and UPF protection clothing.  Look for natural sunscreens that are safe for your children’s skin as well as the environment.

Bug Protection & Tick Checks

Bugs can certainly ruin a hike with kids of any age, so be prepared with bug repellant.  Be careful in areas that are prone to ticks, and always check for ticks after your hike.

Hydration & Snacks

Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep everyone hydrated and happy.

Kids usually need some encouragement to hydrate, so regular water breaks are essential.

Pack nutritious snacks like granola bars, fruit, nuts, and sandwiches to keep energy levels up.

Wear Proper Footwear & Clothes

Ensure that your child has suitable footwear. Sturdy, comfortable shoes with good traction are crucial for preventing slips and falls. Well-fitting sneakers or lightweight hiking boots are often sufficient for kids.  Avoid open toed shoes, crocs, or flip flops.

Set a Comfortable Pace

Kids have different stamina and focus levels than adults, so be prepared to hike at a slower pace and stop often.

Make It Fun

Turn the hike into an adventure by engaging your children with fun activities. Try different activities such as a nature scavenger hunt, or identify different plants and animals you encounter. If there is a nature center nearby, check that out to further learn about the local habitat and wildlife.

Trail Etiquette & Safety

Use the hike as an opportunity to teach your kids about respecting nature. Explain the importance of staying on the trail to protect the environment and avoid getting lost. Staying on the trail is also important for avoiding things like ticks and poison ivy.

Teach the leave no trace ethic by carrying out all trash and not disturbing plants and wildlife. While it may be tempting to bring some natural items home, such as rocks or feathers, it is also important to consider leaving these behind.

Respecting other hikers by sharing the trail, and also be respectful of nature.

Be Patient, Take Your Time

Children may tire quickly or become distracted, so patience is key. Be flexible with your plans and be prepared to turn back if necessary. The goal is to have a positive experience, even if you don’t complete the entire trail. Celebrate small milestones and achievements along the way to keep motivation high.

Hiking with kids can be a wonderful adventure filled with learning and quality time. By planning carefully, being patient, and making the hike fun and engaging, you can instill a love for the outdoors in your children that will last a lifetime. Remember that the journey is more important than the destination, and creating positive experiences in nature is the ultimate goal.

13 thoughts on “Tips For Hiking With Kids”

  1. I need to start hiking with the kids. And hiking in general. I have honestly never done it before, but it sounds nice.

  2. Sun protection is a huge must, along with bringing water. My husband and I love to go hiking with our kids.

  3. Melissa Cushing

    These are great essentials for hiking with the kiddos. I personally wnat all of that stuff for myself too LOL…. I llove to hike an dget my new pooch out on the traikls. He was born for it and he litterally helps ne get up the steep mountainside! He is a workign dog 😉

  4. My daughter has recently done a few hikes with a group so she’ll find this useful. I definitely agree, sun protection is very important to have and reapply often.

  5. These are wonderful tips that I will keep in mind, as my boys are older and we sometimes go hiking together. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Yes to bug and sun protection. We actually forgot about bug spray during our last hiking trip and I felt really bad we were not able to bring one. Thank you so much for these tips.

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