When your kids have been cooped up indoors for the past several months, a nature hike can be a great way to release some pent-up energy. They may have inadvertently spent their time in lockdown in front of screens for too long. Getting them outdoors is an excellent way to get some fresh air and exercise in while bonding with everyone in the family.
Hiking is also a great alternative when you have run out of things to do with your kids. All young children are natural explorers, so taking them on a hike is a great way to nurture their curiosity. It’s also an incredibly simple activity that requires very little preparation, yet offers maximum stimulation.
Going on a hike can be tremendously fun for the entire family—even the littlest ones. With the right resources, you can turn an ordinary Saturday morning into an outdoor adventure for the entire family.
Before you step outside the house, take note of these hiking tips that can help maximize the fun:
1. Research the trail
There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails across Missouri that you can choose from, whether in your own city or in a neighboring town. When you hike with young children, however, knowing the trail is crucial. Researching will help you determine how long the hike will be, what possible hazards you might encounter, and if there are steep areas that aren’t suitable for little legs and feet. Pick the trails that you can explore for two hours or less. Kids will tire easily, and you’ll want to head back to the car before you need to give piggyback rides.
2. Get age-appropriate hiking footwear
The most important investment you should make for the whole family are high-quality pairs of hiking footwear. For children whose feet tend to grow quickly, you can opt for shoes made from synthetic materials that will be less expensive and easy to replace. New shoes should be broken in before the hike, so be sure to have your kids wear them around the house for a few hours each day prior to going on your hike.
3. Use a hiking carrier
You don’t need to leave the tiniest member of your household out of the fun. Get a hiking carrier so you can carry them in the most ergonomic way. Hiking carriers allow your child to sit comfortably as you wear them face to face or on your back like a knapsack. A carrier can also ensure your arms are free to help your other children as you make your way along the trail.
4. Bring water, snacks, and a first aid kit
A few minutes into the hike and your children will probably be begging you for something to eat. Children five years and older can often take on the responsibility of having their own water flask to hold and maybe even a baggie of trail mix in their backpack. Make sure you have enough water and snacks for the rest of the family and stop for rehydration breaks every twenty minutes. Don’t forget to pack a small first-aid kit in your satchel to patch up any scrapes or cuts along the way.
5. Give everyone a briefer
Even if the trails you choose are for novices, any hiking trip will pose risks. While going on a hike will be an exciting time, it’s also important to brief your children on the dangers involved like getting lost, tripping over uneven ground, or poisonous plants. Remind them to stay close by and not to wander off alone. You can also invest in GPS trackers that you can attach to each child’s jacket or have them wear around their neck.
Exploring the outdoors can be a fun family affair. Pick novice trails and explore a new one each weekend together. With a little preparation and the right equipment, you can ensure the hike is an adventure that everyone in your family will enjoy.
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