Six Simple Tips for Hiking with Kids

Paige Geis Bradshaw

The leaves on the trees are changing color, school is back in session and crisp autumn air is approaching! Are you as excited as we are? With fall on the way, we’re looking forward to a season filled with sweaters and scarves, pumpkin-picking and trick-or-treating. (Aren’t you?)

If you’re on the lookout for a weekend activity with the family, don’t take hiking off the table! With cooler weather blowing in, you won’t have to fight back the beating sun. Plus, how pretty will all that nature look during the season of change? (Swoon!)

We can’t think of a more enriching outdoor activity for curious children! Not only does hiking encourage exploration and discovery, it’s a wonderful way to teach healthy habits—and it’s an excellent form of exercise. Plus, is there a more perfect place to educate your child about respect for the wilderness than in the wilderness itself? (We think not.)

Here are Troomi’s top tips to hiking with kids, whether they’re tots or teens:

  • Keep it short, sweet, and not-so-strenuous. For kids, hiking is less about the hard work and rewarding view—hiking is about the holistic experience. Pick a trail with a lot to see along the way! Whether it’s a waterfall, a fallen tree or a rock formation, point out the ordinary and watch your child’s curiosity carry them away. (Tip: Make your hike a scavenger hunt! Create a checklist of landmarks and must-sees.)
  • Take your time. No need to rush or race! Your child will find objects to investigate, explore their surroundings and climb whatever they can—let them, and plan your adventure accordingly.
  • Speaking of taking your time, plan for frequent pauses. Whether it’s to catch their breath, gulp a little water or sit to eat a snack, they’ll need ample opportunity to refuel and recharge their busy bodies. (And let’s be real, so will you!)
  • Take the Ten Essentials (and then some). The Ten Essentials are the must-haves for mountaineering survival, including items like insulation, illumination and first aid supplies. (For everything you need to know about the Ten Essentials, click here.) However, when you’re bringin’ little ones along for the adventure, you’ll need a little more than navigation tools! Toss tissues, wipes, binoculars, a magnifying glass, a variety of snacks and a safety whistle into your pack, too. (Tip: Teach your child about wilderness safety with a safety whistle! To start the conversation, click here.)
  • Follow the leader. If there’s anything a kid loves, it’s being the leader! Play an exhilarating game of “follow the leader” every step of the way. If you have multiple children, take turns! Collect rocks and leaves, look for signs of wildlife or count the clouds in the sky. Find something fun in every switchback!
  • Pack it in, pack it out! Whatever you bring in your backpack, leave no trace. Unwrapped a snack? Tuck the trash in your pocket. Dug a hole in the dirt? Fill it back up. Leave the land better than you found it—bring a garbage bag or grocery sack on your trek and pick up any trash you see along the trail. Mother Earth will thank you for it! (Tip: Teach your child about the importance of stewardship over the outdoors! To learn more about the principles of leaving no trace, click here.)

Ready to hit the trails? We’ll meet you there. Happy hiking!