Thinking of taking your kids on a hike? This is an excellent idea! There’s nothing better to make them discover nature and make them aware of environmental issues, while also doing a little exercise! A family hike, however, requires a little preparation. So, here is our guide to hiking with your family.
Family hikes: fun, easy and friendly
You can introduce your children to hiking at any age. Family hiking is a great way to grow their love for nature and the great outdoors.
At the start, it is important to choose a hike that is not too long or too strenuous. We also recommend that you choose a trail that has a lake, stream, waterfall, or something else that will give children a goal to achieve .
Kids can get bored quickly, so it’s important to make hiking a fun time! Think about playing a hiking game. A simple game of hide and seek or guessing or counting are often perfect solutions. Games that can be played along a trail are great because they keep children motivated, while also distracting them from what they are doing – that is to say a lot of walking!
One of the best times on a hike is discovering wildlife. Kids love it! It is a great way to learn a lot about animals and the species they encounter. So take advantage of these opportunities, ask them questions and explain to them what they see!
Time is your friend … so plan a lot!
Children are real little explorers ! They want to pick up and touch everything. There is so much to discover and examine in nature but make sure they have time to recharge their batteries also!
Split the hike up and take breaks (e.g. walk 30 minutes / play 10-15 minutes). This will allow children to go much further. And it’s a great way to keep kids motivated and focused on the next stop!
Do you feel like you are not moving forward? Remember, the journey is important, not the destination ! If your child seems more interested in exploring the undergrowth than walking, then let him or her enjoy it. There will always be a next time.
Family hike: get ready
Make sure you take the necessary things with you to go on a hike.
See our article Hiking Equipment – Essential Hiking Gear.
For children, remember to take rain/windbreaker clothing so that they do not get cold on the trail. Also make sure they have adequate hiking shoes. Good shoes will keep tears to a minimum!
It can be very helpful to take wet wipes or tissues with you, as well as bandages and a soothing cream for insect bites.
Finally, always pack a change of clothes in the car – there’s a good chance your kids will come back dirty and wet!
Recharge the batteries!
Going on a hike requires a lot of energy. And toddlers will be happy to be able to stop to rest their legs. Keep your kids happy and motivated by giving them refueling breaks!
You can also use these breaks as a way to keep your child moving by saying, “at the catwalk over there, we’ll have a snack break!”.
Do not hesitate to let your children carry their own backpack with their snack and their water bottle.
Also read our article: Food For Hiking – Hiking Snacks: A Hillwalk Guide
Last advice …
Choose a chef from among the children, and rotate. Children love to be in charge. By taking turns leading the group of hikers, they will feel empowered. Allowing children to lead will also ensure that the pace is slow enough for them to keep up.
You can also invite your children to invite a few friends to go hiking with you. The hike will only be more fun if you can plan it together in advance! As a bonus, children will complain a lot less if they are with their friends!
The key to success is to keep kids motivated. Create games that you can play on the trail. Ask them to look for animal tracks (droppings, bird nests in trees…) or to count the species of wild flowers. Organize a scavenger hunt and have them find things small, large, alive, wet… the list goes on!
So if you haven’t already given it a go, why not try a hike with your family. Kids love to go on adventures and do new things. Family hiking is an ideal way to get them out to discover the joys of the outdoors and is a great family activity!