Hiking is one of the most popular and enjoyed outdoor activities for all ages. Children love the outdoors and they love to be active. Hiking provides a great deal of quality time with your children and also a wonderful place to teach them to love, enjoy and respect nature. Proper planning will insure a successful hike.
- Start out with short hikes and slowly build up their conditioning and endurance. Hike are supposed to be fun, not forced and upsetting. Don’t expect them to go as far or as fast as you can. Five miles for any child is the maximum.
- Make sure they have the proper footwear. This is as important for them as it is for you. Nylon liner socks and a heavier sock are also a must to avoid getting blister.
- Leave plenty of time for your hike. Be prepared to stop often. Kids love to touch everything they see. Plan hikes near boulder fields, waterfalls, streams and other attractions to keep them interested and to build their anticipation. Take time to identify things along the way. Look for wildlife. Teach your children to explore and touch…not to destroy or collect. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures for their scrapbook. Videos are great!
- Teach them good outdoor ethics and to respect nature and other people. Stay on the trail and don’t allow them to take shortcuts. No yelling or loud noises. Don’t throw rocks or break tree branches. Don’t pick flowers or write on rocks. No running on the trails. Respect other hikers space. No littering. Remember–pack in, pack out.
- Keep kids away from steep cliffs and other drop off areas. Watch them closely when climbing on rocks and around water.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks.
- Don’t forget the first aid kit for those unexpected accidents.
- Infants can be carried in a baby backpack.
- Engage your child’s mind and body. Make the hike fun. Sing songs. Identify items. Play games such as I Spy, twenty questions or cloud pictures etc. Have a scavenger hunt. Be creative. Use your imagination and enjoy this special time with your children.