I wrote last month about how I have learned to love spending some of my exercise time with my kids. One of my absolute favorite ways to do this is to go hiking with kids. The fall weather is the perfect time to head to the trails. Hiking with kids is something that can feel overwhelming at first, but it has become a way to make beautiful family memories and the struggles are worth the payoff! Still, the struggle can be real when hiking with kids so I wanted to share some tips and tricks if you want to start having some family hiking adventures.
- Do a little research and pick a kid friendly trail. This is my number one recommendation when starting out. Whether you ask a friend, look at blog posts, or use an app, make sure you have a good idea how long challenging each trail is. Some trails that look nice and short have a ton of elevation change making it super hard for littles. Others may be perfectly stroller friendly but lack shade so you want to plan what time you go accordingly. A little research can help set expectations and make sure you are starting with a manageable trail.
- Babywearing is a game changer. If you have a little one who isn’t yet walking or who is not quite up for walking a trail or any long distance, babywearing in a wrap, a soft structured carrier, or a hiking carrier can open up a world of new trails instead of confining you to paved, stroller friendly areas. Hiking with kids means naps in the carrier for all three of my kids at some point in our time together and those are such sweet memories.
- Make sure everyone has the right shoes and sun protection. You will not have much fun if hiking with kids leads to hurt feet from the wrong shoes and socks or if you and your littles get sunburned, so make this a priority every time.
- Snacks and Water are SO IMPORTANT. This is the absolute key for getting my kids to hike with me. I always bring more water than I think we need, and lots of snacks. I suggest bringing snacks that are easy to walk with so you can keep moving if your kiddos don’t need a break. Some of our favorites are apples, granola bars, string cheese (in the cooler months), and raisins or craisins.
- Don’t be afraid to revisit the same trail. My kids became much better hikers when we started returning to trails they knew. They started feeling comfortable and taking more initiative to be the “trail leader” or explore and they knew they could do it because they already had conquered that particular trail.
- Stay focused on the memories. Hiking with kids means sometimes you won’t make it to the end of the trail or to that summit you were hoping for. It means someone might take a tumble and scrape their knee, or there might be some tears. There will also be laughter and conversations you might never have at home. Focus on the memories and enjoy your time on the trails!