Hiking with Youngsters: 11 Tips to Make it a Success

You already love the outdoors yourself and you know how important it is to get your kids outside with you as well. Unfortunately, they might be very young still and we all know it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to take them hiking. Don’t let that stop you! I’ve written before about the benefits of hitting the trail with the little ones and it is very possible to go on successful hikes with young children. Just be mindful of their abilities and be very aware if they start to get too tired. Start small and work your way up, but no matter what, HAVE FUN! Here are 11 tips to help you get out on the trail with your young family:

Tips for successfully hiking with youngsters

  1. Know their limits (and yours). If one or more of your children run out of steam a mile or two away from your car, can you carry them back? The same goes with minor injuries – if your child tweaks an ankle, are you comfortable carrying him for a long distance?
  2. If your child is old enough, consider a small backpack for her to carry. Nothing burdensome, but just enough to carry a jacket or a bottle of water to teach responsibility and let them know that they are helping with something important.
  3. Stick somewhat close to home at first so if things don’t go smoothly, you’re not far away.
  4. Bring plenty of snacks and water, as well as first aid supplies. You’re responsible for little ones now, so don’t forget the sunscreen and bug repellent!
  5. You probably dress in layers while hiking – make sure your kids do as well. Comfort goes a long way.
  6. If you can find a trail that leads to something really spectacular, that might help to increase the level of interest. I have to say, we’ve been lucky, and our kids absolutely love being outdoors no matter what we’re doing. Our daughter was particularly excited to see the “big tree” at the end of our recent hike.
  7. Be patient, go slow, and enjoy yourselves. Rest often. Just because you have an infant doesn’t mean you can’t bring your baby along in a carrier.
  8. Not the most fun thing to think about, but educate your children to make sure they know what to do in case you become incapacitated. Teach about threats on the trail, how to respond, and if you carry an emergency communication device like a SPOT, or my favorite, the Garmin inReach SE+, teach them how to use it.
  9. Your kids will love to feel like they are in charge, so take turns being the trail leader. This makes the hike a lot of fun for them and ensures you’re moving at a pace that works for each child as well.
  10. You’re reading this because you love the outdoors and like me, I’m sure you hate finding trash out there. Start early with your kids and teach them to leave nothing behind when you’re in the wilderness. Bring a small bag for all of your trash and make sure to pack it out with you. You’ll start a habit that will last a lifetime!
  11. Most important of all – make it a habit! If you can get out on the trail a couple of times a month, or even better, once a week, I guarantee that your family will find so many benefits for doing so. Being in nature brings you closer together, which is great for any family.

Thanks for stopping by and please share your tips for hiking with your kids!

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