10 Tips for Hiking with the Family
As the weather gets clearer by the day, you’ll find hiking is an easy way to get outdoors with the least amount of work and expense. Hiking with kids can be especially rewarding with just a little planning. Here are 10 tips to get you on your way.
1. For young children, plan initial hikes that take no more than 20-30 minutes. Older kids can trek for about an hour. If you are carrying an infant in a carrier, make sure it is adjusted well – your back will thank you.
2. Research hiking areas in advance to make sure the terrain matches the skill set of your group. Read and adhere to any and all trail or park guidelines. Use a trail map to identify points of interest – and restrooms, if any!
3. Water. Water. Water. Hiking is exercise so water is essential to avoid dehydration. I have hiked along trails where water fountains were non-existent when needed most. Bring a filled water bottle for each person and a snack.
4. Trails can be rugged and hilly or flat and paved. Wear closed toe shoes with socks that are ok to get dirty and comfortable for the type of trail you will use to protect feet from sharp debris.
5. Trail mates can include horses, dogs, and bicyclists, so use caution and courtesy.
6. Everyone should wear a hat and sunscreen for sun protection, even if the trail is mostly shady.
7. To help pass the time, plan a fun quiz based on points of interest or play ‘I Spy’ to help children recognize elements of the landscape and wildlife.
8. Say “Hello” to other hikers – this is part civility and part hiker etiquette that signals to others you’re ok!
9. Establish safety and eco-friendly rules in advance with your children, remind them that running far ahead of you or wandering off trail is not ok. Leave no trace: take home or dispose of whatever you bring to nature.
10. While pine cones, stones, and flowers are to be admired, their home is in the natural environment. Thus, “souvenir” taking is a no-no. Take a picture instead!
Need ideas of where to hike? Go online or visit your regional parks office to find a comprehensive list and map of local trails.
If you are in the East Bay, check out this site for ideas…Happy Hiking!