We love to hike.
And as luck would have it, we live in an area that has abundant hiking trails.
Some more beautiful than others...
This was Baby Boy's first 'real hike'. A hike that he actually had to use his own feet instead of riding in a back pack using mine! We hiked the 1.5 miles from Ecola state park in Oregon down to the beach which hubby surfs, Indian Beach. It is a stunning!
Over the years we have learned a few tips that make hiking with kids more enjoyable.
First and foremost...slow down.
As adults we forget it is not about the destination as much as it is about the journey. Slow down and take time to explore things along the trail. Just remember to pack your patience and flexibility!
You can count tree rings, identify flowers, listen to birds...
Look for monsters hiding along the way!
Of course when hiking with kids it is imperative that you pick a trail that is appropriate to the ages and endurance of the children. Aiming for a trail fit for the younger of the group... unless you want to be carrying the little ones towards the end.
Pick a trail with something that will interest the kids. Streams, boulder fields, waterfalls, large trees, wildlife, amazing views...all of these things will thrill the young at heart! As do steep drop offs...which of course do nothing but to give mamas a heart attack!
Remember that many trails are better at different times of year. The trail we took would have been impassible just weeks earlier due to mud. Some trails are inundated by pesky bugs at certain times and other times they may just be too hot. Ask locals about the best times for certain hikes.
Take a compass along and learn about direction and following a map (make sure it is up to date). Many trails have maps that you can download and take along.
Big brother is teaching Sweet Girl that if you keep going West across the Pacific you would bump into Japan!
If you go southwest you could swim to Hawaii!
Aren't there sharks?
I think I'll take an airplane.
Dress appropriately. Our kids always wear hats on hikes for both sun and insect protection. We dress in layers that can be easily removed or added. Many trails gain and lose altitude or wind in and out of deep woods making the temperature fluctuations rather large.
Comfortable shoes are imperative with thick socks.
Packing extra clothes is always wise because with kids...you just never know!
Pack plenty of water and food little ones get rather grumpy when they are hungry...ok so do mamas!
Remember to carry a first aid kit, flashlight, and cell phone...because again you just never know!
A safety whistle is a good idea. Our kids are too little to get far from us but it is a good habit to get into carrying a whistle so when they get older and start to explore a little on their own they will have one...just in case! (this is great for skiing too)
Carry a camera. I have found it is much easier to identify plants later with my books at home rather than trying to carry the books along and walking while leafing through pages trying to figure out what the heck that vine is.
While we are talking about it...does anyone know what this vine is? It has leaves like a squash plant that grow upright from the multiple stems , prefers full sun, has lots of tiny white flowers blooming in late June and climbs by wrapping around other plants with its tiny tips
It is important to teach kids that you should always respect both nature and other hikers.
- Stay on the marked trail as to not trample the plants.
- Touch, don't pick (this goes for noses too).
- Don't yell or be overly loud.
- No littering and always... pack out what you've packed in!
Here are a few things that can also make the hike more fun.
- Camera for each child (age appropriate of course)
- Walking stick...kids love 'em (although often with boys they become swords!)
- Notebook for making observation and drawing pictures of things seen
- Small backpacks for each...kids love to carry their own gear
Hiking with kids adds a whole new dimension to the experience of nature. You learn to slow down and begin to see nature from a whole new perspective.
You just never know what you might see!
I glanced out through the massive trees over the sea of sun dappled fern set out like a green carpet before me. My heart skipped a beat for there with pipe in hand I thought I saw a hobbit.
But that cannot be...we do not have hobbits here.
Or do we?
If you have any tips for hiking with kids I would love to hear them!