Hiking is one of those activities that you can do year-round. We love finding hikes that take us near beautiful fall foliage or let us cool off in a river in the summer months. We even hike in the winter when we start to get a little cabin fever. There’s something about being out in nature that brings us so much peace. Jon and I had plenty of hiking under our belts before kids, but there was definitely a learning curve once we became parents! I’ll break down all the things we’ve learned about successfully hiking with kids so you can get out in nature with confidence!
Find the Right Trail
Our favorite app for finding a great hiking trail is AllTrails. It’s free and has everything you need to know about the terrain, difficulty level, accessibility, and amenities near any trail you could think of. The user comments and ratings are super helpful as well. Check out my post about our favorite adventure planning tools for more useful websites and apps!
You don’t want to be stuck without necessary supplies, but you also don’t want to be carrying a giant backpack in the event that you have to carry a kid unexpectedly. I’d recommend bringing:
- a bottle of water everyone can share
- bug spray
- screen shots or a printed copy of your trail map just in case your cell signal isn’t good
Stay on the Marked Path
It can be easy to lose a trail, especially in areas that aren’t well-marked or have footpaths created by hikers who went rogue. Make sure you check your map periodically to ensure you’re where you need to be.
Know Your Limits
This is probably the best advice I can give as you prepare for hiking with young kids. Your two-year-old isn’t going to be able to hike 4 miles. Your 6 year old is going to be more interested in poking at things with sticks than finishing the 6 mile hike you’re already halfway through. Be realistic with your expectations and start slow. Find a trail that’s paved, or under 1 mile to get your feet wet, so to speak. Once you feel confident hiking shorter trails that are well-marked and easily-navigated, you can move up to longer and more difficult hikes.
It’s fun to get out in nature with the kids, but it’s important to have backup if you’re outnumbered. If you’ve got more than two kids, I would recommend taking another adult with you on your hike. Only having two hands with more than two kids has the potential to be really difficult, especially if not all of the kids are super into your hike. That extra adult will make a huge difference in how confident you feel exploring the great outdoors with your kids.
What’s your favorite spot you’ve gone hiking with kids? Any tips I didn’t cover here? Share your thoughts in the comments below!