One of my favorite activities is getting outside with the family and going hiking.  I did quite a bit of hiking before I had kids, and as soon as my girls were old enough, I wanted to share my love of the outdoors with them.  We love going for hikes as a family, and the kids are always excited to go on a new adventure.

Hiking with Kids

There are lots of things to keep in mind when hiking with kids.  Here are some tips for hitting the trails:

Start easy.  This goes especially for younger children.  You want the hike to be fun and simple, not daunting or overly challenging.  Try finding short loop trails or perhaps a nature center that has a lot of shorter trails, so that you don’t end up on one long trail with no short way out if your child gets tired and wants to leave.  Stick with a relatively flat trail and easy terrain.  You don’t want to be worrying about your little ones tripping over rocks, roots, or uneven surfaces or slipping on loose ground.  Sometimes you can find trails that consists mostly of boardwalks, which is an easy way to try out hiking.  And remember to take it slow.  Younger children may want to simply wander around, checking out things from pebbles to grass, so don’t try to set a pace – you want them to remember this as a fun experience.  Some trails may even accommodate a jogging stroller for younger kids that need to take breaks.

Hiking with Kids
One of my first hikes with my first born!
(Sorry for the old, blurry picture)

Hydrate.  Children often need encouragement to stay hydrated, so keep an eye on them and gauge how much they need to drink.  You can bring a regular water bottle, or there are even hydration packs made just for children, which can make it a fun experience.  In hotter weather, you may want to freeze water in a bottle before filling or fill with ice before spending time outdoors, so your child has a cool drink along the way.

Bring snacks.  Be prepared with snacks for everyone to help refuel.  It helps to have a pick me up while you are out on a trail.  That last thing you need is to be stuck on a trail with an exhausted child – this should be a fun experience!

Hiking with Kids
My daughter picking some dandelions at the farm

Sun protection.  This can be in the form of hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, sun protective, clothing, and so on.  I like to go with hats and protective clothing, and natural sunscreens.  Be choosy about what sunscreens you put on your kids.

Bug protection.  Bring along bug spray or other bug repellents.  Some areas may have unexpectedly buggy conditions once you get on the trail.  Even if nearby areas seem clear of bugs, take into account that conditions can be completely different on a hiking trail, especially if it is near water, dense brush, etc.