Hiking with kids can be hit or miss, sometimes they love it, sometimes they don’t. Some kids are GREAT at it, others aren’t, we have a little of both . As parents we love to hike, so we have been taking our kids hiking since they were little. We have had great family hikes and totally painful ones and learned a lot. Here are my top tips for making hiking with kids fun.
Kids can hike about one mile per year of age (2 year old can hike 2 miles, 3 year old can hike 3 miles, etc.). Find a hike that matches your kids age and interest. We find that flat hikes tend to go over better than ones with big elevation gain.
We have been taking our kids on hikes since they were little. They haven’t always enjoyed it and some days there has been a lot of complaining, but after a couple of years, there is a lot less complaining and a lot more fun all around. The more often you hike, the better they will get, the stronger they will be and the more everyone can enjoy.
Our kids usually are asking for snacks within the first 5 minutes of a hike, even if we just ate breakfast before we left. Bring way more than you think you need, you will not regret it.
Kids think hiking is “boring”, when there starts to be too much complaining, I think up a game to play (twenty questions, I spy, etc.) or start singing songs (The Ants Go Marching, Row Row Row Your Boat, etc.). Last hike we did, we did one big huge math problem on the way (if you have $5 and Tater wants to borrow $0.10 how much do you have left, etc.), hey, whatever works. Have an arsenal of games to play when the whining starts to take their minds off of the big hill you are climbing. Here are a few websites with ideas if you are all tapped out: Outdoors.org, appalachiantrail.org, and campjellystone.
We recently gave big D a camera and he loves to document our journeys. It gives them something interesting to do along the way. Plus it is awesome to see some of the pictures they come up with.
Kids love being with other kids, they come up with games to play along the trail and the hike tends to go a lot faster and there is a lot less complaining when we go with friends. Find a few friends with kids and hit the trail together.
It sounds crazy, but carrying a stick is fun (try it, you might agree). Help your kids find a good stick to carry on your hike, they can whack grass, poke bushes, draw in the dirt, and have fun. Not sure why, but kids hike faster when they carry sticks.
Our kids (like most) hike slow (about one mile per hour), rather than try and make them hike faster, I have tried to better plan our hikes to account for how slow they hike. When I am less worried about the time, we have a much better time, looking for bugs and enjoying the day.
We have found that certain hikes capture our kids attention much more than others. Often it is the hikes with rock scrambling or interesting destinations…ice caves..lakes to swim in…something cool. We first discovered this when we went to Death Valley National Park for the week and had no complaining on our hikes all week. This was a first for us, but figured out it was because the kids liked the rock scrambling and adventure that Death Valley provided. Find what your kids like most and try and find hikes that have those activities.
Hiking is all about enjoying nature and having fun. If you aren’t having fun, your kids won’t either. Pick a hike that is right for your kids, go prepared, and slap a smile on your face (even if they have asked you ten times if you are done yet) and chances are eventually everyone will be having fun.
This is how we make hiking with kids fun. What are your top tips for hiking with kids? Any game suggestions for us to try on our next hike? Or let us know your favorite hikes and we can check them out on our next trip.
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I recently became obsessed with Death Valley; I had seen a few pictures on pinterest…