10 Tips for Hiking with Kids

by Marie on April 23, 2012

Our family loves a good hike. Whether it’s in the woods, desert, beach, or canyons, there’s so much to explore on a hike. In Seattle, there are plenty of great hikes and many are just the right fit for kids. I’ve got a few tips for you to make your hike with children more enjoyable, helping to make things go smoothly and keep their attention.

Here are 10 tips for hiking with kids:

1. Bring a backpack: having a backpack with you is very crucial. Find something that is lightweight that an adult or older child could carry. And you want it to have straps that cross your chest for good support. It’s also a good place to store all those treasures they might find.

2. Make sure you’ve got snacks and water: we make sure to fill a water bottle or two to bring along. Most backpacks have a nice mesh pocket on the side to hold a water bottle. And you’ll want some snacks. Mixed nuts, raisins, granola bars or energy bars. Trail mixes are great to make and bring too.

3. Wear the right shoes: if you’re hiking near water, you may want shoes that are sturdy, but can get wet. Or if you’re hiking near mud or on a long hike, you’ll want to wear socks with a good pair of hiking shoes. We love Keen shoes, they are perfect for hiking.

**Another great tip we learned from friends is to bring a second pair of shoes to leave in the car and change into when you’re done hiking. Chances are you’re going to get your hiking shoes wet or muddy, so they suggest to bring a second “car” pair of shoes. We’ve now done this and it’s a great idea!

4. First thing to find, a good stick: you’ll be finding a lot of fun things on a hike. But the first thing to find is a good stick. It can be used for so many things. A walking stick, for sword fighting, poking at plants, pointing at things far away, etc.

5. Keep a look out: there are so many treasures to search for on a hike. We love to keep our eyes out for the following fun things:

  • Ferns – these plants are on almost every hike we’ve ever been on. It’s a great plant to teach to your young ones. My 3 year old is the best at pointing them out!
  • Bugs – spider webs and creepy crawling things are all over. Make sure to spot them on your hike.
  • Holes – there seems to be a lot of holes near the path. We like to find them and guess what might live inside!
  • Critters – keep your eye out for animals on the trail. We’ll often see squirrels. And we keep our ears open for the sound of birds.

**For my littlest one, we like to find leaves that are bigger than her hand. It’s a great way to keep her attention by having her measure her hand next to different plants.

6. Watch for things on your path: it’s fun to look for the roots that pop up all over the pathway. When you’re on a hike with lots of trees, you’ll be sure to see the tree roots pop up. Make sure you look out for them and try not to get tripped.

7. Talk about what to do if you see berries or poisonous plants: get familiar with common poisonous plants. We been wanting to find a book about this and do a little more research on which plants and berries are not good to even touch. But we make sure to point them out and talk to our kids about NOT picking any berries or leaves off trees and bushes.

8. Look for the unexpected: it’s the best on a hike when you come upon fallen trees. This one below was uprooted and tipped right over. You can see almost everything from it’s roots and it left a big hole. We’re always looking for fun unexpected sights on our hike. We’ve also seen trees struck by lightning, very cool.

9. Make sure you bring camera: there are always good photo opps on a hike. Make sure to take a picture at the top to show your view.

Or even create a few fun photo opps of your own, like pretending to be a bear on a log!

10. And last but not least, have fun in NATURE! If you come prepared with the above items and hiking ideas, you’ll be on your way to a fun family hike.

What are your tips and tricks for a great hike with the kids? How do you keep them entertained and excited?

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