Hiking is a fun and healthy pastime that the entire family can enjoy. But if you’re new to it, or if your kids are new to it, it might seem a bit daunting at first. If you have resistance, or any of your family members have resistance to hiking together, we’re going to give you some advice and tips to help along the way.
First, you need to understand that whatever fears you or your family members might have about hiking probably already have an answer. Many people before you have felt the same way, and there are great solutions available.
Most state and national parks have hiking trails for all experience levels, and most have handicapped trails or access. You can also use these trails for babies and toddlers in strollers.
If the walking or exercise is new to your family members, you may try walking around a small city park or a track first before venturing into hiking. You can also choose the “easy” or “newbie” trails at a state or national park, and remember, you do not have to complete the entire trail in one go. For example, if it’s a 4-mile trail, you might only go one mile into it and then back the way you came, making two miles in total for your first hike. It’s all about choosing what works best for you and your family.
Getting the Family Excited about Your Hike
One of the best ways to get everyone excited about the hike is to plan together. When you plan it together and spend time talking up the adventure, everyone can get in on the experience. Younger children will especially love this, and there are plenty of ways they can help and be involved while also creating a great learning experience for them.
Older children and teens who may not want to give up their comfy rooms and computers to venture into the great outdoors can also find it more enjoyable when you include them in the process, rather than just telling them what they’re going to do.
In general, children love nature, and they thrive in the outdoors. If your children have not had enough experience outdoors in their lives, they may need a gentle nudge to get them there, but then their natural appreciation for it will kick in.
Here are some other things you can do to make it more enjoyable:
- Choose a hike with varying features and terrain to keep them interested and challenged
- Prepare and plan appropriately and bring snacks, hydration, and other essential items
- Give your kids a digital or disposable camera and encourage them to take pictures along the way
- Pack for adventure and include a magnifying glass, binoculars, and other items
How to Help Older Kids Enjoy It More
If you have older kids, the above tips may not be as helpful. So here are some ideas that can help older children have more fun on the hike:
- Allow them to bring along a friend – be sure to get permission from the friend’s parents
- Incorporate an app – you can add a navigation app and let your older child be in control, or try geocaching while you’re hiking for more interaction
- Expose them to different hikes – older children may get bored more easily by hiking in the same places so try to explore other areas
Now you know how to get the whole family hiking together. All that’s left is to get started. When will you plan your first hiking adventure?