Tips for hiking with kids

Baystateparent Magazine
Not only does hiking get kids outdoors, it helps with building stronger muscles and bones, improves their sense of balance, and is a natural stress reliever

One of the best ways to get kids to be active and connect them with the outdoors is take them on a hike. Not only does hiking get them outdoors, it helps with building stronger muscles and bones, improves their sense of balance, and is a natural stress reliever.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you take your kids on a hike, according to Wilderness.org:

1. Keep it easy and feature-friendly: For at least the first few times, select a hike that isn’t too long or too strenuous - remember that for kids, the hike is about the experience. Picking a trail that has some features, be it a lake, stream, waterfall or something else, will keep kids occupied and give them a goal to reach.

2. Time is your fiend - so plan for lots of it: Kids are natural explorers and want to pick up and touch everything. This is one of the greatest things about hiking - there’s so much of the natural world for kids to discover and examine. Make sure they have time to get their wilderness fill.

3. Prepare for anything: Some kid-friendly supplies are: wet wipes or tissues; lip balm; binoculars; magnifying glass; field guides (to point things out to kids); camera; and safety whistles for each child (and teach them what they are for and when to use them).

4. Dress for success: Make sure your kids have adequate hiking shoes, depending on terrain, this could range from sandals to tot-sized hiking boots. Always pack a change of clothes for each child and leave them in the car for your return from the trail.

5. Plan frequent energy stops: Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluid and food.

6. Leave no trace: When out on a hike, make sure that all of your trash is collected - taking a gallon size zip-top plastic bag always works well for this - the “pack it in, pack it out” concept is fully embraced on the trails.