Early in the summer we did an article about hiking with kids. Here, a father of 4 shares his own ideas to help get your whole family on the trails.

You might not get out on the trails as much as you used to, but believe it or not, it can still be done. With a little more pre-planning, you can be family hiking.

Before I was married and my family grew into 6 amazing people, I was always looking for that next trail to hike or bike but once I found my soul mate I put all that aside because I thought that it was a single man’s game. In the past two years I have had my eyes opened and now my family of six: 2 parents, a 9-year old, 7-year old, 4-year old and a 2-year old are out on the trails enjoying nature.

Kids in Nature

-Take some of the many products available for kids! There are so many products out there to help you and your family hike. Right now we are using the Kelty Kids FC 2.0 (backpack) for hiking. The pack works great for both parent and child it is very comfortable and it has enough pouches for things you need to bring on a hike such as diapers, wipes, change of clothes for the whole family, extra water and snacks with room to spare.

-First of all, those long or remote trails you used to frequent shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind. You want to start slow and build up, I would start with a nice slow 2 to 3 km (1-2 miles) hike. From there, you can ether add more distance or pick up the speed.

This is a good goal!

-Don’t forget you are as fast as your slowest person, that being said think about how long your legs are compared to your 3-year old’s, for example. Go at their pace and they will enjoy the hike and want to do more.

-Always have a finish line. Kids love to have a goal like a finish line. You could use a waterfall, lake, a teddy bear picnic, what ever you can come up with.

-Kids love to discover new things or see things they have never seen before. Encourage them to try looking for animal tracks or other signs, birds, flowers, bugs, etc. Pick up small field guide on the things you are most likely to encounter so that when your child finds ‘that thing’, whether it’s a mushroom or a footprint, you can help them put a name to it.

-Have them bring their own camera or a field journal so that they can create there own pictures and memories.

Identify things along the trail

-You can also add games to your hike like I Spy, scavenger hunt (give them a list before you start), if they have a camera you can do a photo scavenger hunt. This just the start you make your own game up for what ever your child is in to, make it to fit what they like.

-We all need a break for a snack and some water. This is very important because if someone is getting hungry or thirsty they are not having fun. So if you come across something that they find interesting take a 5-10 minute break there so they can discover it a little more. Have your snack and drink while you are in that interesting place. You never know, you might learn something too.

-Teach trail etiquette. This is, among other things, a reminder to stay on the trail. It isn’t just important for your own safety, but it also keeps little feet from disturbing nature. This is a good practice to teach your children because we all would like to see our great great grand children to be able to hike those trails in the future. There are other “rules of the trail,” known as “trail etiquette’. Make sure you know the rules yourself, so your kids can learn them from you.

I hope this has given you a little helping hand to get your family out on those trails. I think if my family of 6 can do it, so can you. Can’t wait to hear your stories from the trails.

Helping Hands
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