Hiking with Kids: a Parent’s Guide

Are you new to hiking with kids? Or perhaps you’re a seasoned trekker who thought you had to put your favorite pastime on hold. Hiking with kids can be challenging, but with some planning and a few helpful tips like the following, spending time with kids on the trail can be an experience that will help you bond as a family and create unforgettable memories. 

1.  Make Sure They Have the Proper Gear

Think of your child’s hiking gear as a kid-sized version of your own. Good hiking boots are essential and a cute backpack for your little one will allow them to pack their very own gear. Make sure they pack a warm, waterproof jacket; some healthy snacks; and an extra change of clothing to suit the weather. A few extras like a compass and a safety whistle will not only make them feel special, but might prove to come in handy on the trail. 

2.  Look for Fun and Interesting Family Hikes

Stay away from straight, flat, or boring trails. Research the trail options in your area for hikes with views, waterfalls, and other points of interest. Involve your child in picking and planning hikes. Look for trails of different lengths and levels of difficulty. Keep in mind what your child is capable of in terms of length and elevation gain. If you need help deciding on a trail, check out the AllTrails app on your child’s Troomi phone!

You may find that your child wants to repeat a favorite trail again and again, and that’s okay. 

3. Think of a Few Hiking Games

Kids love scavenger hunts, and hiking is perfect for one. Make a list of items to find. Animal tracks, specific plants, litter (have them pick it up), leaves and flowers of a certain color, and types of rocks are good items to start with. Younger children will enjoy a game of I Spy while on the trail. Older kids can play a game of Hide & Seek as long as they know not to veer off the trail too far. 

4. Make Hiking a Chance to Learn About Nature

Before hiking with kids, do some research about the flora and fauna in the area where you are. Have kids look for examples of plants, watch for animals, and observe insect life with a magnifying glass. 

5. Take Along Some Snacks and Treats

Be sure to pack some high-energy snacks and fueling carbs like granola bars, trail mix, and fruit. A few sweet treats like small candies and lollipops can be used as rewards for accomplishing distance goals or good behavior. Let each child carry their own water bottle, and make sure they stay hydrated. 

6. Plan for Breaks

Take breaks along the way. Stop by a picnic table, a big rock, or a grassy spot and rest up with a snack and a little exploring.

Hiking with kids can be tough, but keeping these tips in mind will help you make hiking safe and enjoyable for the whole family—even the little ones. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get hiking!