Hiking with kids is a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air together. Getting kids to go on a walk in the woods, can sometimes prove challenging. Giving my boys things to do like collect treasure or carry a stick, and let them let loose a little bit… hiking is a lot more fun. You will be prepared with the hiking tips below and soon your kids will be asking for you to take them hiking!
They weren’t always like this, though. No, my youngest usually wants nothing to do with hiking. Even now. But, if I come prepared and offer him some of the goodies below, he is all for it! Occasionally, he’ll even ask his dad or I as long as he can bring some fun items along.
Hand your child a picture scavenger hunt and a pen or crayon and you’re good to go! The Massachusetts Audubon has a free printable for scavenger hunts. Not only are the kids looking for leaves and plants but also animals such as chipmunks or a frog in a nearby pond. There are also four different printable, one for each season!
All you need is a bag or bucket to hold all our kid’s treasures! We enjoy picking up leaves off the ground, small rocks, acorns and twigs. Encourage your kids to find whatever they can on the ground around them. Both my boys love this because to them anything can be a treasure! When you get home, it will be fun to dump all their valuables out and see what treasures they each had found.
Another great treasure hunting idea is to go Letterboxing!
Whether your child wants to bring a pair of toy binoculars or a kid-friendly pair, it’s a pretty important job, not to mention fun to carry a pair around your neck. Choose lightweight binoculars and show your child how they can use them to look up into trees or further ahead.
Sandwiches, apples, blueberries, trail mix, cheese sticks are great examples of snacks to take with you on your adventure. Bring a long a bottle of water or a juice pouch. Find a large rock or other place to sit and your snack time in the wilderness will be complete. Kids love to be the ones to pick where everyone will sit. More than one child? Have them take turns picking where the snack spots will be. Lunch at one spot, a drink and small snack at another.
Find a stick
Kids love sticks. Whether to use as a sword to hit plants as they walk by or to use as a walking stick. Encourage your kids to find their favorite to carry with them on the hike.
Bring a kid size camera or let them use your phone to capture the right picture! Later, it will be fun to look back at the memories of your day together.
Be forewarned you may have a dozen pictures of the same object if your child is snapping photos. Hopefully, there will be at least one good picture to save and your child may feel quite proud of themselves for taking their own pictures.
Talk & learn
Talk to your kids about animals that live in the woods. What sounds do they hear as you walk along? Point out the different types of trees or plants. Look for animal footprints as you go. Stop at a pond and try to spot a frog or fish. Such a great hands-on learning experience!
If your child can walk, you can take them hiking. And if they can’t or don’t want to, put them in a child backpack. Or both! Set the expectation that you may not get the whole trail completed. Let them know if they are little, they can walk as much as they are able and then you will put them in the kid backpack with a snack.
Make it fun
Climb up rocks, jump off. Get their hands dirty. Make bird calls. Hoot and Howl. Stop to throw stones into a brook. Bring another parent and child friend to join you. Pack a lunch, put on your tick repellent, tell your kids you are going to be explorers or that you are going on an adventure!
Being prepared and setting their expectations will help to show your child how to love hiking. Let your kids lead the adventure with their sword (stick) and a big smile. And now, my little guy is often the one asking me “Mom, can we go hiking again?” Seriously, it this what it’s all about?!