Hiking with Kids
Note: When hiking with children, consider trail conditions, weather, and the physical conditions of the kids. Start with low mileage and work your way up. Remember that kids tire easily and are more affected than adults by rain and cold conditions.
- Make sure you and your child have good footwear and socks, no open-toed shoes.
- Bring lots of water and snacks.
- Wear sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and dress in layers or bring a change of clothes for the child.
- Bring a first aid kit, sting and allergy care, hand wipes, and tissues.
- Stay on the trail and keep your charges within eyesight.
- Teach your child to stay with a buddy.
- Enforce the rule: Do not touch, just use your eyes.
- Leave things where they are.
- No running, shouting, screaming.
- No littering – pack out what you pack in.
When walking or hiking with kids, keep incentive treats with you. If a child is having a hard time getting up a hill and the view at the top is not enough to keep them going, establish stopping points where the child will get a treat. Keep granola bars, trail mix, or energy treats handy. The number of stopping points depends on the child: establish more at shorter distances for younger children. The more stopping points, the smaller the treat.
This is a great time to play age-appropriate games. Try “I Spy” and “20 Questions.” Find shapes in the clouds during rest stops. See what you can find on the trail to teach them about nature and hold their interest.
Give responsibilities to kids 12 years and older. For example, let them keep the map and lead the way. Put them in charge of water and snack breaks. If you have an old or disposable camera, let your child be photographer for the day.