There’s nothing better on a crisp Fall day than hiking through the woods, hearing the kids chattering like squirrels while their feet are crunching through leaves. We love getting outdoors and exploring a new hiking trail – whether it’s through the woods, over a little mountain or just across a big meadow that goes around a pond. But with three kids, we are starting to learn there are 6 Tips for Hiking with Kids.
6 Tips for Hiking with Kids
- Bring some water and a snack. Kids get hungry and then they get cranky. Even if you think you’re only going to be hiking for a short time, carry some water and a granola bar. Even on our ‘short hikes’, we end up being out longer than we plan. It’s not that difficult to carry a granola bar or snack for each person.
- Wear a backpack. We found this really lightweight backpack that is perfect for our hikes. It folds up in a little ball that we can leave in the car, but is ready for us to use anytime we go for a hike. The straps are wide and comfortable and it expands as the kids get hot and need to take off their layered sweatshirts. Sure, they can tie them around their waste, but inevitably, one of them will drop their hoodie and I find myself carrying it. I toss in a few water bottles and snacks and there’s still room for the kids’ treasures (leaves, rocks, fossils, acorns….).
- Plan your trail. When we hike at a new location, we always grab a map or ask the visitors center for any helpful tips or directions. We have gotten lost on a trail with 3 small kids and we never plan to repeat that mistake. It was just enough lost to be exciting for the kids and a learning experience for us.
- Snap lots of pictures. I always take my camera and snap lots of pictures. Our kids love to pose on top of tree stumps, under cave overhangs, and from the branches of a tree. They are often finding great pictures that tell a story. “Look, Mom! I’m pushing this tree up off the path!!!” My husband takes his camera so we can have different perspectives from behind the lens. This also guarantees that both of us are in the pictures. We both know the importance of being in the shot not just behind the lens!
- Carry a small first aid kit. First Aid Kits are really cheap now. You can buy a travel size for .97 at Walmart or make your own. Whether you buy a prepackaged kit or just grab the basics, make sure you carry a couple bandaids, some tweezers for splinters and some first aid cream. We always make sure that one of us has our phone with us. With 3 kids, it’s always nice to feel like we’re not completely isolated from civilization when out on a hike.
- Start early. Sign in. Tell a Friend. Many hiking trails will have a sign in log for visitors. Not only is this a great way for the park to know who is visiting, but it also gives them a record of who is on the trail. When you head out on a hike, make sure someone knows the area you are going to be in. It’s always wise to make sure someone knows where you are in case there is an emergency situation.
What are you best tips for hiking with the family? Got any great trails you love? I’d love to hear from you!