If you have been thinking about going hiking with your kids, this is a great time of year to get started. There are some people who just seem to be born hikers. They can crank out a 10 mile hike to the back country and discover amazing rock bridges, waterfalls and little-known caverns. But there are others who have never been hiking but want to get started taking the family on hikes.
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Beginners Guide to Hiking with Families
Start Small & Go Early
For seasoned hikers it’s no big deal to think about taking an all day hike out into the unknown woods; but for beginners with children, it’s better to start small. Look for hikes that are rated easy to moderate with distances less than 2 miles.
Because the sun comes up so early in the summer months, there is plenty of light so you can start your hike early before the heat cranks up. We love getting out on the trail right after breakfast so we can be out to our waterfall and back before the heat of afternoon.
Stick with the Popular Trails:
There are hundreds of popular hiking trails in Kentucky that are great for beginners and families. The popular trails will typically be well marked with colored spots on trees, numbered markers, and will have full parking lots.
Trails that are clearly marked make it more comfortable with kids because there is little to no chance of getting lost.
Take a Map (or take a picture):
Most hiking spots will have a map display at the trailhead. Some will have printed maps for hikers to take with them. If yours doesn’t have a printable map, use your phone to take a picture of the map before you head out on the trail. This will keep you from getting lost once you are out in the woods.
Hike at Any Season:
Just because the weather may be dreary, or overcast, don’t think your hiking adventure is out. We have found some of the best hiking adventures to be on non-traditional hiking days. Some of our most memorable hikes have been when there is snow on the trails, waterfalls have turned to ice or right after a rain. Just make sure you dress warm enough for the trip and wear proper shoes that will give you grip on muddy trails.
Dress in Layers
One of our favorite hikes of all times was our winter hike to Anglin Falls. Our kids still talk about this being one of the favorite hiking adventures of all time!
Tip: Carry a backpack where you can easily pack dry socks for each member of the family in case you slip in the mud, splash in a creek or decide to go wading.
Talk to other Hikers:
As you are out hiking, talk to other hikers you pass. They can often share tips for how to get to waterfalls, stone arches or overlooks. When we were out on a recent hike in McCreary County and couldn’t find Lick Creek Falls, we talked to some backpackers who gladly shared the tips and directions to the elusive waterfall.
Tell a Friend:
Always make sure someone knows where you are going to be hiking before you head out. If there is a log in book at the trail head, take 2 minutes to sign your name and the time you start the hike.
Ask the Experts:
If there is a visitors center, stop and talk to the park rangers before you head out on the hike. When we visited Pine Mountain State Park for the first time, we talked to the rangers and asked them for suggestions of what to see and which trails were best for our family. They suggested we take the Honeymoon Falls Trail which gave us access to a pretty waterfall, a rock boulder tunnel and several scenic bridges. If we hadn’t asked, we might have missed this trail.
Pack some Snacks:
Don’t forget to pack some extra snacks. Even if you only plan on hiking a short trail, you may lose track of time or find something unique to explore. Always take a backpack with snack bars and drinks for the whole family in case your hike lasts longer than you plan. Kids can easily carry their own light backpack with a bottle of water and granola bar.
Once you decide to take your family hiking, there are 6 more things you need to remember to pack in your hiking backpack! Here is a list of 6 things to take on your family hiking adventure!
Popular Beginning Hiking Trails in the Bluegrass: My family and I have hiked many of the popular trails in Kentucky. For a full list of the trails we recommend and our hiking tips, just click over to our favorite hiking trails!
What’s your favorite hiking trail or tip? I’d love to hear!