10 Tips for Hiking with Kids
Updated: Jun 27, 2020
Over the years I have learned a few things that make hiking easier and more enjoyable with kids. We value hiking because it gives us time away from the normal distractions at home, which allows us to bond and help our kids learn that they can do hard things. Here are 10 tips to help get your family OFF the couch and on a great hike!
1. START WITH EASY HIKES
Start out with some easy, super fun hikes to get your kids use to hiking. You don’t want to ruin their perception of hiking by taking them on a hard and discouraging hike the first try. Build up to harder and more adventurous hikes over time.
2. HAVE EXCITING DESTINATIONS
Kids need something to look forward to while hiking. Whether it is a stream or waterfall to play in, rocks to climb, caves to explore, or even several cool things along the way, kids are far more motivated when they have something to get excited about or captivates their attention during the hike.
3. LET YOUR KIDS GET DIRTY
Please, let your kids just have fun and get dirty and wet. They will love this! If there is a small stream let them wade. If there is a sand pile, let them play in it.
4. BE EXCITED & ENCOURAGING
Your excitement will wear off on your kids. Find things that excite your family about hiking and find your own traditions and the types of hikes that your family loves to do.
Our family loves rocks. When hiking we are constantly finding cool rocks and showing each other. My husband and I genuinely get super excited about the cool rocks that we find and that the kids find. I often come back from hikes with my pockets full of rocks my kids want to keep.
We also love to tell our kids, “look at that mountain you just climbed!” or “You must be a super hiker to have done all that!” Be super excited about where you are hiking to and what you see along the way.
5. PLAY GAMES & ACTIVITIES ALONG THE WAY
This was a game-changer for us and helped us through a couple of hard long hikes. It is amazing how much more your body can do when you are distracted. The purpose of games or activities is to keep the kids distracted so they don’t think about how tired they are or how much further there is to go.
6. KEEP THEM TALKING
Hiking creates a great opportunity to ask your kids questions about friends, school, extracurricular activities, etc. It has been a really great bonding time for our family to let the kids just tell us all about their experiences. And once they start, it just seems to keep coming. This also helps to keep them distracted similar to the games helping them to hike further.
7. TAKE LOTS OF SNACKS
Kid metabolism is so much faster than adults. My kids need a snack about every 30 to 45 minutes when hiking to keep everyone happy and blood sugar up. I also use snacks as motivation. For example, I might tell my kids that if they hike for 5 more minutes then we can stop and have another snack. It works. Kids will hike for more snack time.
8. HAVE WATER ACCESSIBLE
Hiking became so much easier for our family when we got small hiking backpacks with water bladders in them for each of our kids. Each kid can just grab a drink real quick without all of us having to stop, take a break and pull water bottles out of the back packs each time someone gets thirsty. It is also important to keep these kiddos hydrated. Kids dehydrate so much faster than adults.
9. PREPARE FOR WEATHER
Do not take your kids for a hike in 90 degree weather and expect them to have fun. Plan for the weather you will be hiking in. If it’s going to be hot, start early in the day, or if it’s going to be colder, bundle up. You can ruin a hike that would have been amazing by not preparing for weather --- believe me, its happened to us.
10. TAKE BREAKS ALONG THE WAY
Kids need more breaks than adults….this is hard for me….I am a go-getter and just want to keep hiking. However, to make the entire experience more enjoyable you must take breaks. And to be honest, breaks really can help re-energize, as long as you don’t overdo it. Take breaks in the shade or somewhere good to sit and don’t be afraid to let the kids know that you’re tired too.
I hope to inspire you and your family to get off the couch and on your next hiking adventure. Happy Trails!
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
Join me and my family for "Adventures off the couch!" Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest @outdoorfamfun.