Are you interested in taking your kids hiking and wondering how to have a successful family hiking trip? The thought of hiking with the kids can be a daunting, – what to pack, what to wear, how far into the hike, and if you’ll be carrying kids…
As a family we’ve been hiking our whole lives so we’ve put togehter our top recommendations for you to have a great trip:
However, hiking can be a healthy and fun outdoor activity that kids will enjoy, if the hike is designed to set them up to succeed. The reality is that parents need to set realistic expectations, as well as provide a little bit of motivation for when the steep challenges present themselves.
Choose a hike that is developmentally appropriate for you and your family. Determine if you’ll be carrying children, or need to be prepared to carry them at some point. If they are hiking the whole trail on their own, be sure to start off small and choose trails that they can finish. This sense of accomplishment will set them up for their next, more challenging trail.
Calories and hydration are key to children having what their bodies physically need to get them through a challenging hike. In our family, we follow the 80 /20 rule when hiking. 80 percent of the food needs to be healthy and fuel us for the activity, and 20 percent can be fun and rewarding treats.
My kids each carry their own camelback, a backpack with a water pouch in it and a hose that they can hydrate from while moving. They LOVE their camel packs and being able to be self-sufficient helps take the load off of us having the carry it.
Connect with Nature
Give your kids the time to connect with the environment around them. Whether it’s finding the biggest leaf, getting down to look closely at a creepy crawley, standing quietly to see the birds, or looking at habitats for signs of homes (like if a beaver lives there) be sure to slow down your walk so your kids can take it all it. It’ll make it more enjoyable for everyone.
The number one thing to success is having the proper clothing for the activity. We ALWAYS hike in layers, a base layer, active layer, and warm layer. The warm layer is perfect for when you’re just getting started, snack time, or when you’re cooling down. They can also be an essential first aid item if you’re needing it (let’s hope not!)
Find a safe and fun place for lunch! This may look like my kids are sitting on the edge but it was a safe slope and my husband is hiding in front of them below. Finding a cozy place where kids can unwind and have a snack is really important. My son often likes to head off to the forest to explore while my daughter likes to hang out and enjoy the view.
Enjoy the View!
My kids love hikes that have an “end” and it is often those moments when you’ve reached the end that they get what all the work was about.
We’re excited you want to get your kids outdoors and hiking! Now that you know how to have a successful family hiking trip, here are a few more resources for you:
Looking for family-friendly hikes? Here are some of my local favourites:
Minnekhada Regional Park – High Knoll Trail – Many images in this article are from that hike.