Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Adjust your pace and hike to an appropriate pace and terrain for little bodies.  Little legs can't walk as fast, kids get distracted and like to stop and investigate things along the way.  You must be journey oriented and not focused on destination--which is wonderful, it forces you to stay present.

Plan a short hike with little or no elevation gain.  Keep it easy and accessible, it it's too challenging it won't be as fun or safe for kids.  If possible, choose a trail with a body of water, a lake, river or waterfall will make the hike more exciting.  A local Ranger's station can recommend trails appropriate for your family, I love to check in with the rangers when I go to a park and find them very helpful and full of information.

Gear up together.  Enlist your kids' help with gathering the 10 essentials.  First Aid Kit?  Check.  Sunscreen?  Check.  And so on.  My son loves to fool around with our gear and feels empowered when I allow him to be in charge of some things.  Modify your first aid kit to be appropriate for children (children's ibuprofen, Bat Man band aids, etc).  

Play.  I-Spy or 20 Questions can help pick up the pace when kids show signs of fatigue or boredom.  A small magnifying glass can bring out the fascination factor of the beautiful patterns found in nature on tree stumps, leaves and insects. 

Eat.  In addition to lots of snacks, it's always fun and appreciated to stop for a little picnic.  If you dole out healthy treats (raisins, trail mix, etc) at different milestones it can keep things moving along.  Have plenty of hydration for everyone--kids can carry their own little hydration packs or water bottles and drink frequently.

Image Credit: Take a Hike Arizona