Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tips for Hiking with Kids

So you want to go on a hiking trip this summer, but you’re thinking that it might not be a good idea due to the young kids in the back seat. It’s likely you’re concerned that your children will be bored by the idea of traipsing through the woods. Although I hear this concern quite a bit, you really don’t have to hang up your boots until the kids go off to college.

Fortunately there are several things parents can do to make hiking enjoyable for their kids. The key is to keep them interested, motivated and, most importantly, make sure they have fun. Although that might sound easier than it really is, there are several things you can do to accomplish these objectives.

For very young kids you’ll have to keep the hike very short. As they get older and begin to build confidence and endurance you’ll be able to gradually increase the distance. Although we as adults enjoy expansive views, this really isn’t important to kids. Children much prefer things that are scaled down to their smaller world view. As a parent you should try to appeal to their sense of discovery and adventure, such as visiting a waterfall, a cave, large boulders, a hollowed-out tree, a gurgling stream, or a lake to possibly where they can skip rocks. In fact, water is usually a great motivator.

As you venture further down the trail during your hike try to point things out along the way. Perhaps playing a game similar to that of a scavenger hunt where your children try to find a variety of items such as certain trees, pine cones, wildflowers, boulders, insects, birds’ nests and various wildlife. National parks like Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains are all perfect for finding any of these items.

A few other important tips to keep children motivated are to let them set the pace, bring lots of snacks, take frequent breaks, be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, and maybe even consider allowing them to bring a friend along.

Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains all offer many outstanding easy hikes that will appeal to both children and adults alike.


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