Hiking with your kids is a great way to release some of their pent-up energy and spend memorable time together absorbing the beauty of the outdoors. Kids find wonder in an interestingly shaped fallen leaf, unusual animal tracks, or a mysterious bridge over a babbling brook. All the good vibes can be spoiled, however, if you’re caught unprepared for issues that come up while on the trail.
Here are some tips for prepping for the hike, and to keep things positive while on the move:
1) Bring a good backpack
You’ll want a large, sturdy backpack that won’t fall apart under the weight of all that you pack. It should have padded straps that sit comfortably on your shoulders. You can stow your food, water, rope, clothing, maps, and binoculars while focusing your attention on the expansive forest around you.
2) Snacks are essential
Both children and adult hikers need sustenance to power them through a good hike. Bring snacks that are light, don’t squish, and can be eaten without plates or utensils. Fruit, trail mix, pita bread, granola bars, and biscuits are some possibilities for on-the-go snacking. For drinks, bottled water or juice boxes will do. It might be tempting to leave the hydration behind so as not to make your pack too heavy, but nagging thirst will make a hike miserable.
3) Layers of clothing
You and your kids will likely heat up quickly while climbing up steep hills, running to the next signpost, or walking in a spot of direct sunlight. Just as quickly as you warm up, however, you can cool down. Make sure everyone is layered sensibly, and that you have room in your backpack to stash removed clothing.
4) Good shoes
Don’t try and hike without proper footwear. Your kids will make it well known to you if their feet aren’t comfortable, and trail elements could ruin shoes meant for more everyday use.
5) Look it up
Search online to find the most kid-friendly trails in your area. Some trails are meant for experienced hikers only and are too physically strenuous for tykes to take on. Other trails are laid on mostly flat ground without too many challenging elements. Kids should enjoy hiking, not be intimidated by it.
6) Set a timer
Small children might not be able to make it all the way through the trail, but they should be encouraged to try. If they would like to be carried, agree to do so for 10 minutes with a timer set. They’ll get a break, but they’ll also know that they have to shortly gear up for some more walking.
With these tips you should be well equipped for a great time outdoors with your kids. Hiking is one of the greatest, simplest pleasures in life. Kids who spend ample time outdoors grow up level-headed and with a sense of deep appreciation for all the earth gives them. And spending time outside helps parents blow off steam, too.