9 Tips for Hiking with Kids

9 Tips for hiking with kids | happyfitmama.com

One good thing about the global pandemic and stay at home orders right now is that more people are heading outside to enjoy walking, running, biking and hiking. People are finding ways to get fresh air close to home. That is awesome!

However, last weekend when we were out on a hike, it was kind of obvious that a lot of people out on the trails were new. And a lot of those new people had kids.

Hiking with kids isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when you are first getting started. There’s road blocks at any age. From all the gear you need to take along with little babes to all the complaining that ensues with preteens to teens. So how do you turn your kids into enthusiastic hikers or at least ones that will tolerate it with minimal complaining?

Start short and slow

Don’t expect to cover 5 miles at a brisk pace for your child’s first hike. Starting off with a short distance at the child’s pace is best. Be prepared for frequent stops. LOTS of stops.

9 tips for hiking with kids | happyfitmama.com

Toss out your agenda

Let your child lead. You may want to hike for hours, but if they call it quits after 15 minutes, it’s better to head back to the car rather than force them to keep moving onward. I remember when my kid’s were around 8 months old. It took forever to pack ALL the gear we thought we’d need for our hike. We thought we’d be gone an hour or two. We hiked 20 minutes before the kid’s both let us know it wasn’t going to happen. The screaming in our ears was enough to know that it was not the best day to hike.

Be prepared

Bring a First Aid kit because there’s bound to be a skinned knee. In addition, wet wipes, tissues, lip balm, sunblock and insect repellant are just as important.

Gear up

From backpacks, hydration vests, compasses, and water bottles, there’s nothing cooler to a child than a mini version of mom or dad’s gear. Although you most likely will be the one who ends up carrying that gear in addition to your own.

9 Tips for hiking with kids | happyfitmama.com

Snacks and fluids

Hiking requires a lot of energy. When kids run out of energy, what happens? They get cranky. Very cranky. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluids and snacks. I’ve learned that you can never pack too many snacks. If you think you’ve packed enough, pack some more. And maybe even more. More is always better.

Dress properly

Make sure that you take ample amounts of clothing in case your child gets cold while out on the trail. Always bring a waterproof jacket with a hood in addition to a hat and gloves. Make sure your kids have the proper shoes. Finally, always pack a change of clothes for each child and leave them in the car for your return from the trail – chances are someone is going to be wet and muddy!

And FYI leave the white sneakers and clothing at home. It will not be white when you are done.

Stick it

Kids love sticks. It can be used for so many things – a walking stick, for bushwacking through low trees, poking at plants or as a pointer. We seem to always find the “perfect” hiking stick at least 10 times during a hike.

Have a destination

Choose hikes with landmarks, like a trail that ends at a fire tower, a lake or a waterfall. A post hike destination or treat is always a good motivator too. My kids’ seem to hike a little faster knowing that there’s a stop at an ice cream place on the way home.

Emphasize fun

The whole goal is to make sure that their experience is FUN so they will want to go again. If you make it boring and torturous to them, the complaining will be nonstop with the ultimate resistance you bring up a hike again.

In full disclosure, there will be whining. There will be complaining. Oh yes there will! But hopefully, there will also be laughter, excitement and joy in enjoying a fun experience as a family in the great outdoors.

Linking up with Runners’ Roundup

12 comments on “9 Tips for Hiking with Kids

  1. Tossing out the agenda was the biggest thing for us. I actually waited to hike with my kids until they were older just because I knew I wanted to make it a decent distance before having to turn back. It doesn’t always work but hey… sometimes is better than no times!

  2. I love that so many more people are heading outside to exercise. I love it even more that more kids are getting out there too. Hiking is a great entryway into fitness and outdoors for kids. I love that you do this with yours

  3. We started hiking via Scouts, so they always have everyone’s safety and wellbeing in mind. Our last vacation, we were able to put all our knowledge to use when we hiked in Acadia National Park and it was so much fun.

  4. We used to go ‘exploring’ with the boys–hiking wasn’t what it is now! But typical me, I always bit off more than we could chew. It was a lot of fun, though!

  5. These are wonderful tips – Thank you! It’s funny because I remember my mother had to bribe us with root beer floats for those extra-long hikes. I noticed that once we adjusted and got used to hiking as kids, we enjoyed it much more as we aged. And of course, I enjoy it now as adult especially with our “kids” aka puppies. haha 🙂 Thank you for the post. I always am looking for more content to share with our readers especially if relates to a physical activity that improves mental health, like hiking!

  6. Hi There, I’m a traveler and love to travel around the world with my kids. I always looking for new things about traveling and I found some important tips about hiking here. Thank you for sharing some useful information.

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