Hiking with Children

by Angela Yorke | July 2nd, 2012 | Family Fitness

If you’re thinking about physical activities that would be suitable for the family, you can go on hikes with young children with relative ease – as long as you plan properly for it. The main thing to remember when bringing children on a hike is to not expect to cover the same distance as you would alone or with other grownups. Indeed, an oft-repeated phrase is that you should not bring children along if you can’t think like them.

Aside from packing additional outdoor equipment, it is also important to ensure that you have sufficient snacks. Most of the time, children indicate they’re hungry or thirsty when they’re very much so, if at all, and the ensuing effect it has on their moods could very well hamper those well-laid hiking plans.

As hiking is a deceptively energy-intense activity, make sure that you pack snacks that provide energy quickly and that are easy to carry and eat. Examples include chocolate, sweets, dried fruits, and nuts.  Also bring sufficient water for adequate hydration. Asking a child to help with the snack packing can foster their enthusiasm for the activity, as they know there’s something to look forward to.

As mentioned earlier, don’t expect to travel the same distance as you would for “adult hiking.” Children are small and tire easily, so plan a short hike for the first trip out, and at a pace that a child can manage. It would definitely be a more enjoyable experience for all involved if everyone were unhurried. In fact, the first hike doesn’t even have to involve the wilderness. You could plan a walk around a nearby city or town, with local places of interest as your destinations.

Having children join in the planning helps greatly to create anticipation and excitement for an upcoming hike. Children can be assigned packing the snacks (as long as their work is double-checked by an adult), checking the maps and safety equipment to be used, and picking out the clothing to be worn on that day.

If you aim to make hiking a regular family fitness activity, it’s important to emphasize that it’s enjoyable, not a chore. That means putting aside “grownup” aims of X miles by 5 PM, and taking the time to investigate the mysterious trail of pebbles the inquisitive child has discovered instead.

Comments on Hiking with Children

All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.