I love hiking! It must be in my blood since my dad spent a summer backpacking before he met my mom. I am nowhere near that hard-core but I do enjoying camping or a good day hike. Growing up we went camping and hiking a lot. While I was living in Mexico my girls and I took many short hikes into the hills behind our home.
Hiking is always an adventure with kids. It’s good to be prepared for whatever you might face on your hike. Today we have 13 Tips for Hiking with Kids that are sure to give you a place to start from next time you plan a hike with your kids!
1. Wear good shoes
Good shoes are vital for hiking. Little flats with no traction on the soles are going to send your kiddos sliding if they hit loose soil, gravel or a slick rock. They also give you no arch support leaving feet tired and sore way before you are done. If it’s going to be a long hike through lots of brush then they need a good pair closed toe boots. If you are going on more of a gentle hike sandals like these Keens or Chacos work great! I have a pair of each and have used them for light hikes for about 8 years now. My Chacos traveled all over Israel with me for two weeks a few summers ago. On that same trip one of my friends had on Keens and we both felt fine after hiking many miles each day.
2. See things from their perspective
Some my greatest memories hiking with my girls comes from stopping with the littlest ones and seeing the things they see and letting them express their joy over the view or whatever they may have found. New found pleasures and joy are just waiting to be discovered! I get a kick out of the stories some of them tell about the little mouse they saw it how they imagined it’s life.
3. Bring water
I don’t care how short of a hike it is, bring water. This is not a suggestion, it’s a must. You never know when someone might twist an ankle or break a bone leaving you stranded for a few hours until help can be found. A water bottle with a quality filter is the best way to bring water on a hike especially if you know you will be near fresh water. One of the only water filters I trust is the Bereky water filter. Bereky makes great water bottles that each person can carry.
4. Bring snacks
Snacks keep your energy up and are a fun thing to look forward to when you plan on taking a break. Thing like beef jerky or beef/turkey sticks (I like Nick’s sticks, they are made from grass feed meat and Reals Salt) give you a protein boost and aren’t messy. A few fun/special snacks are great too, like a homemade granola bar. Even though chocolate is the perfect treat most days, I don’t pack very often unless I know it’s going to be a cool day. No one likes melted chocolate making a mess all over everything. Soaked and dehydrated nuts and dried fruit are also great stable snacks to bring.
5. Bring a first aid kit
You never know who will trip and skin a knee, get into poison ivy, stung by a wasp or twist an ankle. It is good to be prepared for whatever might happen. Serafina shared about her herbal medicine chest, that is a good place to start for deciding what to put in your kit.
A few staples that I like to bring are:
- Healing Garden Salve
- Tea Tree Oil
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Arnica Tincture
- Real Salt
- Ankle wrap
6. Go over rules
Set rules for your kids before you even leave the house. You might want to even review them again before you start your hike. Your kids need to know what is okay and what is not. Take into consideration their age and responsibility level. I have always felt blessed by my girls not going too far off and paying attention.
7. Don’t plans something too intense
Unless your kids are used to hiking it’s important to remember that they might not be up for too intense of a hike. Kids (or adults for that matter) who aren’t used to hiking or just have little legs need more breaks. It’s normal for them to feel the hike in their muscles or to have the need for more water and rest breaks when they are not in shape, used to the altitude or so much activity.
8. Pack toilet paper and resealable bags
Without fail it’s hard to take a hike and not have at least one person needing to go to the bathroom. Toilet paper and a resealable bag to pack the soiled paper out with are a must. A small trowel to cover the #2 is a good idea as well.
9. Dress appropriately
Be aware of the weather where you are going to be hiking and how long you will be gone. When I was hiking in Baja we were in a very hot and dry area most of the year so layers weren’t quite as important, often tank tops helped us cool off. Rattle snakes LOVED our hills so we wore jeans most of the time. If we were up in the mountains any time of year we would dress in layers that can be peeled off or added as the day went on.
10. Leave no trace
Please don’t let your kids litter while on your hike. It spoils God’s beautiful creation and makes it unlovely for the next person that comes along. It might also harm the wild life. We try to be carefull not to mess up too much brush or flowers as well. Though a few flowers usually find their way home with us. (Check rules for the area you are hiking in if it’s okay to collect things or not.)
11. Identify plant life
If you have been around Nourishing Simplicity for very long you will know that we are all about herbs. It is so much fun and a great teaching lesson to learn to identify plant life with your kids. Learning what plants are for cooking and healing is just as important as learning which plants to avoid. Poison Ivy for example is nasty to come in contact with but Jewel Weed which grows near by helps sooth the itch.
12. Be encouraging
Sometimes kids need a bit of encouragement and motivation to keep going. When one of my new girls moved in she was not accustom to hiking so we had to take things a bit slower at first and encourage her. She ended up having fun and running around with the best of them.
13. Bring a camera
There are sure to be special memories just waiting to be captured. Plus it’s great to take photos of the scenery and plants when you are learning how to identify them.
* Bonus- See everyone’s ability
Often people assume those who have limitations just can’t do something. While at times that can be true it’s not the absolute rule at all times. My hikes while living in Mexico normally consisted of 12-16 kids. The last year or so I had kids ages 4-19 with me. They are all deaf and for those of you that might want to know, it wasn’t an issue. My girls know the rules for when we hike and if I needed someone in the front’s attention I simply tapped the girl in front of me who got the attention of someone else who called the person I needed to talk to or just passed on the message.
I also had two girls that have no peripheral vision. They know that they have to be more aware of their surroundings and look around more. Another was my girls has a semi low functioning type of autism Even though it was a new experience for her she was happy because she was with the people that she knows, loves and trusts. Almost all of my girls loved hiking or at least started to half way through our time. They never let anything get in the way of just enjoying a good hike like any other kid.
What are your tips for hiking with kids?