When it comes to a family hiking trip we try hard to be as prepared as possible. This means doing a little prep mentally for the whole family in what to expect and is needed. I’ve pulled together some tips for hiking with kids that will make this activity fun for everyone.
I would say over the past few years our family hiking has become more and more exciting. While planning trips to National Parks we’re always looking at the hikes. We loved Acadia National park, and did a lot of hikes on our Southwest RV trip. Of course we also take advantage of local trails, and look forward to our boots hitting the trail, for a day hike or while we’re camping!
Tips for Hiking with Kids
Something to remember when hiking is with kids is to remember you’re hiking with kids. I know we get excited about the idea of some hikes, but need to be mindful of younger kids and stamina. I pulled together some of the things we are conscious of when planning our hikes.
- Research the hike – make sure it’s a good one for your family. We’ve been on a few where we saw families turn around about their younger kids couldn’t climb the rocks or were scared.
- It’s okay to turn around and try a different hike – to my above point sometimes it’s just not right and that’s OK try a different. There’s are so many great ones out there for families.
- Keep the pace in mind – you can’t expect kids/little legs to keep up with an adult. The more you hike the more stamina they will get and build up to longer distances
- Take Breaks -Don’t over do it, a break is a great opportunity to enjoy a snack or talk about what you’ve seen
- Hiking carrier (this is more for people with toddlers and babies)
- Full bellies and tons of snacks (nothing is worse than getting 5 mins in and something saying “I’m hungry” make sure you’ve eaten or have packed a meal to enjoy).
- Hike with friends and families – We love hiking with friends and find it makes the hike even more enjoyable
Hiking Gear for Kids
It’s so important to make sure you have the proper hiking gear, even for kids. I would say the shoes are the most important thing as you’ll need them to have good grips on the bottom. We’ve also found as the kids have gotten a little older they really like having their own backpacks, and hydration pack.
- Good Waterproof Hiking shoes/boots
- Hiking Day Pack
- Hiking Socks
- Good Water bottle or hydration pack
- Hiking Pants/Shorts
- Hiking Poles
What to Pack when hiking with kids
This is a big question. You want to make sure you’re planning for the hike you have a head, but you also need to plan for what could happen, and
- Swiss Army Knife
- First Aid Kit
- Trash bags
- Whistle (some hiking bags have one on them!)
- Compass & Map, All Trails App
- Insect viewer/Magnifying glass
- Outdoor Adventure Kit
How do you make hiking fun for kids?
One of the things I’m surprised with is how fun a hike for the kids may be. Sure we think they will drag their feet, and whine, but you may be pleasantly surprised to learn they love running ahead to look for a mile marker or just checking out nature. Though we follow to the rule to stay on the trail, we love to encourage exploration. Here’s some other ideas:
- Hiking Scavenger Hunt
- Trail Map – Get a physical map and let the kids be “in charge” of the map
- Photography Fun – Take photos and let the kids take some
- Sing songs
- Play games (I Spy, and 20 questions are great while hiking)
Hiking in Cold Weather with Kids
Hiking when the weather is cold is just as much fun. The key to hiking is wearing layers and to keep your body moving. This way if you do start to warm up you can take a layer off. I also encourage having a least one thermos of something warm, soup, hot chocolate, tea, whatever your family enjoys. This way you can warm up on the inside with a few sips. I also pack a few extra things just to be safe:
- Hand warmers/foot warmers
- Layers – pants, shirts, jackets, just make sure they will fit in the bag if you do remove them
- Warm hiking socks
- Hat and Gloves
Whether you’re checking out the local trail or visiting a National Park I can’t say enough about how hiking has brought our family together. Pushed us to help each other when things get hard, and given us some wonderful moments together.
Do you like to hike with your family?