Start young: Getting your kids on the trail

Marion Fernandez
 

If hiking is one of your passions, you are naturally going to want to share your passion with your children. But it can be intimidating to try to figure out how to introduce hiking as a hobby as well as ensure that your kids develop a love for it as well. With the following tips, you can help foster a passion for hiking in your children and create new and adventurous hiking partners for life.

Start out easy

Children hiking

For the first few hikes, you are going to want to make sure your hikes are really kid-friendly, easy to walk, and have a lot of fun features to take in. It does not have to be much. Sights could include a waterfall, stream, or other natural attraction so the kids can see there’s a purpose in the journey. It is ok if they don’t want to finish the hike the first time. Building up an appreciation will take some time.

Also, you should predict when they’re likely to get tired and make sure you’ve turned back before fatigue really sets in. Loops are excellent for children starting out as well so you don’t have to gauge when you should turn around.

Don’t rush them

Kids like to take their time exploring their environment, and this includes nature. If they want to stop and check out some leaves, don’t press them forward or push them to make them move faster. Dragging them along the trail is not the goal. You are not trying to win a race. Let the kids explore what they are interested in for as long as they need to check it out. You can also point out things along the way, from interesting leaves to bugs or anything else that you can find.

Pack lots of snacks

Snacks for the trails

One thing that makes any adventure slow and arduous for kids is one that is not full of snacks and drinks. When you have tired and hungry children, you are not going to have a good time. Keeping them fed and taking frequent breaks is going to make your trip not just more enjoyable for you, but will also make it more fun for them as well.

Dress for the weather

You can hike in any weather, whether it is rain, snow, or sunshine. But your kids, just like a grownup, is not going to have a good time if they are wet and cold. If you are hiking in rainy weather, pack appropriate rain gear and make sure the shoes you have them wearing are appropriate for hiking in water as well. If there are puddles on the trail, most kids are not going to miss the chance to stomp through them, even if it means they have cold feet later.

Likewise, if it is sunny out, your kids should be dressed to keep cool and to be protected from the sun, which means sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable clothes. They still need to wear good hiking shoes in the sunshine as sandals run the risk of injury. Plus, hiking shoes are going to be far more comfortable.

Think outside the box

Hiking with a child

While you may be an outdoor enthusiast, sometimes getting your kids excited about hiking means you should be hiking in different locations. Are there gardens you can trek through nearby? Perhaps there are landmarks or estates with large grounds that are open to hike through as well. It can start your kids off light with a clear objective while changing the scenery to show that hiking does not always mean you have to be among the trees.

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