Most people enjoy nature’s serenity, and hiking is a great indulgence. You spend time outdoors and have good memories alone or with adult friends. You don’t have to worry about little ones crying about tiredness or hunger.
But now, things have changed. You have kids and wish to have a family adventure in nature, hiking with them. However, you may wonder if they can withstand it.
You can go hiking with your kids safely if you prioritize their needs. Begin by getting them the right outfit for the journey, make them comfortable, and choose the right trail. They’re young and will easily get bored or hungry. So it’s wise to include fun games along the way and pack lots of tasty & nutritious snacks.
If you’ve never hiked with your kids, you’ll wonder how possible it is to enjoy this activity with them.
Not to worry, we’ve discussed great ways to make this fun for kids, how to be safe while at it, and more.
Is It a Good Idea to Go Hiking With Your Kids?
When considering whether or not to take your kids along during a hike, you may feel they won’t enjoy it.
But remember that just as hiking has significant benefits for you as an adult, kids aren’t different.
Learning how it positively impacts and strengthens bonds between them, their family, and nature will convince you to hike with them.
#1. Physical Fitness
Hiking is a great exercise required to help kids develop their health. Being physically fit also aids in strength development, endurance, and coordination.
Hiking trails are rarely smooth, and trekking in different terrains for a while helps to strengthen their muscles.
Lastly, physical fitness greatly reduces the chances of many health issues, high blood pressure, and obesity.
#2. Mental Well-being
Exercise is wonderful for the body and one’s emotional wellness. Engaging in hikes, walking, or jumping over obstacles in rough terrains helps the body release endorphins.
These hormones boost euphoria, elevating one’s mood. Additionally, being in nature and enjoying the great outdoors makes one calmer, and kids can benefit from it.
Hiking has good psychological advantages for kids. It could also lessen anxiety. Most kids will likely speak up about their problems to their parents in such a calm state.
#3. Cognitive Development
Children develop their cognitive reasoning through learning, and hiking offers them that opportunity.
Being in the outdoors increases their creativity and problem-solving skills. For example, they can solve a problem about navigating a rough terrain and finding a better route.
It also enables them to begin to understand maps. They can equally learn about different animals, flowers, and colors.
#4. Social Interaction
Hiking helps kids communicate better with their family or other hikers they meet. And such communication skill is top-tier in every aspect of one’s life.
This activity encourages teamwork as they may have to come together to solve a problem.
It also fosters cooperation as they walk along the trails, navigating their path while conversing with each other.
#5. Environmental Awareness
Hiking is a great avenue to teach kids about the Leave No Trace program. It encourages respect for the outdoors and the significance of environmental sustainability.
This way, kids can learn about human’s impact on the nature they’ve come to love. And that can help them grow into those with strong ethics against damaging nature and wildlife.
Six Tips for Hiking Safely With Kids
After learning the importance of letting your kids hike with you, you’ll want them to hike next time.
However, it’s vital to prioritize safety, especially with these little ones. We’ve explained six tips that will help you accomplish this.
#1. Be Prepared
Hiking with your kids is wholesome but can have its challenges. They’re always hyperactive and often don’t stop when you tell them to.
So it’s wise to prepare before coming. You should learn some primary safety and survival hiking skills. You can learn this by reading books or articles about this.
Additionally, getting the right equipment is vital, which implies having excellent safety gear for the kids and yourself. Below is a table highlighting some safety kids’ gear and its importance.
|Child-sized backpacks||It allows the kids to carry their essentials while encouraging independence and responsibility.|
|Comfortable hiking shoes||It provides adequate support, protects their little feet, and reduces injury vulnerability.|
|Appropriate clothing for different weather conditions||It ensures comfort and flexibility during hikes while keeping them cool in hot/cool weather.|
These gear also ensure the same thing in adults. You should carry extra clothing and crucial equipment for a long hike, like blankets, camp tents, and more.
#2. Understand the Trail
You can only make your kids feel safe if you know the trail you’re hiking. So it’s important to understand to use a map or a phone GPS to guide everyone.
You may also tag along a friend who’s an expert there. Sometimes, letting the children lead while you direct them from behind is good.
Some hikers agree that doing this makes them feel less tired or bored.
#3. Plan According to the Weather
It’ll be wrong to notice gloomy weather and wind that may signify rain and still take your kids hiking.
It heightens the risk of cold, especially if it rains while you all have no shed to take cover.
Neither is taking the kids hiking on summer afternoons with less water or heavy clothing advisable. So it’s wise to know the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
#4. Consider the Kids’ Physical Abilities
Kids mostly hike because they believe it’ll be fun. It should remain that way. Don’t overexert them or stretch them beyond their fitness levels or abilities.
They may sustain injuries, suffer dehydration, fatigue, or even lose interest in hiking. Keep it simple and check up on them to know how they’re doing and when to go back or rest.
#5. Have an Emergency Plan
Kids can injure themselves regardless of how safety-conscious you are in protecting them. Depending on the injury’s severity, You’ll need a first-aid kit to deal with this.
In other cases, it could be worse. Therefore, it’s advisable to have a backup plan or someone who knows where you are going so they can help.
Four Best Activities to Make Hiking Fun for Kids
If you’ll grow a love for hiking in your kids, start by making them enjoy it. To do that, you need to make it fun. If you need ideas on activities to make hiking fun for kids, consider the four best discussed below.
#1. Take Pictures
Kids have an eye for beautiful things. While they may not want you to take pictures of them, they’ll want to photograph cute flowers and animals they find.
So make this fun for them. You can give them a camera or your phone to snap the pretty things they find. It makes them happy and keeps them feeling lively.
#2. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are one of the best activities to keep kids occupied, help them build their senses, and have fun.
You can create a scavenger hunt theme or idea of what you want them to find. But it’s advisable to study the trail beforehand and include items they will likely find in the list.
Doing this ensures they find the items and do not search for hours as that could make them bored. Ultimately, you may reward the kid who finds all or most items.
#3. Play I Spy
I Spy is a classic game; you can customize it to suit your environment.
To play, you can spy on a flower or animal and then give the kids a clue as to what it might be. Continue giving clues until someone answers correctly. Then, exchange roles and keep it going.
#4. Take a Break and Draww
Breaks are excellent ways to keep the fun going. They’ll need to rest after some time, so give them snacks and hydrate them.
Afterward, give them a sketchbook to draw something they like that they saw along the way.
Remember, the list is endless, so you can develop fresh ideas before going or even on the spot. But don’t make it too educational or boring. Discover what they love doing and incorporate it.
Trails for Hiking With Kids
Hiking with kids demands you choose a trail suitable for them. There shouldn’t be much climbing or steep places to avoid injuries.
Below, we’ve discussed four suitable trails for hiking with kids.
#1. National Parks
They’re great hiking places, especially because they usually have well-maintained trails and great sites the kids can explore.
The Navaja Loop Queens Garden Trail is a popular national park in Bryce Canyon National Park. It has great scenery and a flat trail.
#2. State Parks
They’re also good options since they’re less crowded with easier, kid-friendly hiking trails. A great example is the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park.
It’s an ideal spot for families hiking with older kids and has one of the best sceneries in Oregon.
#3. City Parks and Local Nature Preserves
City parks are ideal for trails closer to home, while nature preserves are excellent if you need more wildlife views.
An example of a city park hiking trail is the Whispering Pine City Park: Pink Loop, with great views of the surrounding hardwood forest.
While the Animal Discovery Trail and other fun activities in Dupage County is
What to Carry When Hiking With Kids
Bringing important equipment and other necessary items is vital when hiking with kids to make it a safe and enjoyable experience.
Below are some essentials.
- Nutritious snacks and enough water
- A first aid kit for treating any sustained injuries
- Sunscreen and insect repellent to protect from the sun and insect bites
- Blankets for spreading on the floor if you wish to take a break
- Extra jackets if it becomes cold
- Emergency shelter for unexpected conditions, for example, tarps
- Extra water and food
- Navigating tools like a map, GPS, and a cellphone
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