10 Tips for Hiking with the Family

As the weather gets clearer by the day, you’ll find hiking is an easy way to get outdoors with the least amount of work and expense. Hiking with kids can be especially rewarding with just a little planning. Here are 10 tips to get you on your way.

1. For young children, plan initial hikes that take no more than 20-30 minutes. Older kids can trek for about an hour. If you are carrying an infant in a carrier, make sure it is adjusted well – your back will thank you.

2. Research hiking areas in advance to make sure the terrain matches the skill set of your group. Read and adhere to any and all trail or park guidelines. Use a trail map to identify points of interest – and restrooms, if any!

3. Water. Water. Water. Hiking is exercise so water is essential to avoid dehydration. I have hiked along trails where water fountains were non-existent when needed most. Bring a filled water bottle for each person and a snack.

4. Trails can be rugged and hilly or flat and paved. Wear closed toe shoes with socks that are ok to get dirty and comfortable for the type of trail you will use to protect feet from sharp debris.

5. Trail mates can include horses, dogs, and bicyclists, so use caution and courtesy.

6. Everyone should wear a hat and sunscreen for sun protection, even if the trail is mostly shady.

7. To help pass the time, plan a fun quiz based on points of interest or play ‘I Spy’ to help children recognize elements of the landscape and wildlife.

8. Say “Hello” to other hikers – this is part civility and part hiker etiquette that signals to others you’re ok!

9. Establish safety and eco-friendly rules in advance with your children, remind them that running far ahead of you or wandering off trail is not ok. Leave no trace: take home or dispose of whatever you bring to nature.

10. While pine cones, stones, and flowers are to be admired, their home is in the natural environment. Thus, “souvenir” taking is a no-no. Take a picture instead!

Need ideas of where to hike? Go online or visit your regional parks office to find a comprehensive list and map of local trails.

If you are in the East Bay, check out this site for ideas…Happy Hiking!

8 Thoughts on “10 Tips for Hiking with the Family”

  • Just found your blog. I’m a hispanic native Californian currently living in the “BORING” state of Texas. Sure ther are lots of people enjoying outdoor activities especially around Austin. The problem is there is no elevation if you know whatI mean. As a Californian who ejoys the deserts and mountains of Caliofrnia and not able to enjoy them it is a good feeling to hear about other folks encouraging people to getoff the couch. I will continue to check your site at work when not looking at pics of Yosemite and the Gold Country.

  • Anon I feel your pain! You did not mention what part of Texas you’re in, but having visited several times, I know the “flatness” of which you speak. Have you considered renting an RV and getting out of state this year? That might be fun…

  • I grew up in Haiti (which in Indian means mountains). I think my parents started me hiking from the time I could walk. Strapped up on my father’s back I have pictures as young as 1 1/2 mountain climbing.

    Florida is another super flat state. I’d love to be able to hike again. Wonderful pic!

  • Quiskaeya,

    If you still have those pictures and are willing to share, I’d love to put them on my blog!

    Have a great weekend,

  • I just want to add that the difference for me between having a fun hike with kids and having a miserable hike with kids is a good baby/toddler carrier.

    That way when your little one gets tired of walking (which usually happens within 1-2 miles or less, even up to 5-6 years old), you can scoop them up and have them ride on your back in comfort and style.

    Check out my page at http://www.theportablebaby.com/babycarriers.html for my preferred three carriers covering kids up to age 5.

    When my oldest was a baby, I hiked 2-3x a week (between 2-6 miles each time) with him on my back. Now with two kids, it’s not as easy, but if you get your kids used to hiking from an early age, they do great! My 2yo is still really slow, but when he dawdles too much, up on my back he goes! It’s only difficult to carry him if the going is really steep.

    Too many people think that the Baby Bjorn carriers are the only option, and those usually top out at 15 pounds, but there are some fabulous carriers out there for families looking to get out into the great outdoors.

    I run a hiking group for moms and kids caled GoBabyGo here in the Peninsula/South Bay, and we all use these types of carriers. Couldn’t run our group without them!

    Lastly, I would a THOUSAND times rather be out in the fresh air and beauty of the outdoors getting my exercise than sitting on a machine in a smelly gym watching TV.

  • Absolutely Laura — at some point I want to link to your site for carriers. I used a Kelty and it made all the difference. Thanks for your comments!

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