Embarking on a hike with young children can seem challenging, but with some planning, practice and patience, everyone can enjoy the great outdoors together.
Consider the youngest traveler and work out a trail accessible for them. Be sure to pick a hike with a destination such as a waterfall, old building or spectacular view. Having a final focal point encourages kids along the way and feels like a reward at the end.
During warmer seasons, head out early to beat the heat; pack plenty of water and snacks. Having snacks readily available provides not only sustenance, but they also serve as bribes to keep kids focused. Offer something sweet when you get to the top or spread treats as rewards along the way.
Make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the climate, climb and possible weather changes. Be sure to pack spare pairs of dry socks, shirts or anything else young hikers may need.
Lightweight, waterproof backpacks can be invaluable on a hiking trip. This way, kids can carry their own items, gear and snacks with ease. If the pack becomes too heavy it can easily be emptied and fit into an adult hiker’s bag.
For small children, child carriers are a must. Toddlers and infants can come along for the hike with a baby carrier sported by a strong and experienced hiker. Having a small first-aid kit, water bottle with a water filter and various emergency kits can help with peace of mind along longer hiking trails.
Be sure to allot time for breaks and pit stops along the way. A short rest every so often will be invigorating and much needed for younger walkers, as well as provide time to take in the surrounding landscape. Make breaks fun with a quick picnic, photo-ops with the family, little scavenger hunts and games while exploring the surrounding sights.
Once refreshed and re-energized, head back out on the trail toward your goal. Be sure to encourage storytelling, singing and any games you can think of while hiking. This keeps the kids entertained, engaged and enjoying the climb.