Hiking with Kids: Tips for Successful Family Hikes

Family Fitness
Image Credit: bengrey/Flickr

One of the greatest ways to appreciate the great Canadian outdoors as a family is by going for a hike or wilderness walk. It’s great exercise for kids and adults, rather than sitting at home, watching the Olympics 24-7 (not that we don’t love watching those awesome Canadian rowers!).

If you want to make hiking a family activity, here are some hints to make it fun for everyone:

1. Remember, city folk, there are options other than just wooded trails. Consider hiking Historical Trails that are inside most major cities. Also, look into nature centers, regular parks and exercise trails. There is nothing wrong with creating your own hike just going into your local town or around your neighborhood.

2. Start on small treks that don’t make everyone so terribly tired that no one enjoys the walk at all.

3. Be patient. Think about how the kids would enjoy walking slowly, examining their surroundings. Take breaks regularly. Throw rocks and sticks, flip a bug on its back and see how it turns itself over. Look at and smell grass, weeds, logs, flowers, moss, and interesting rocks (take one home!). Watch a bird in the sky, a chipmunk or squirrel in a tree, or even other people.

4. Play I-Spy, count the number of animals you see or the amount of times you see a specific flower or bird or hear a certain call. See who can be first to spot a certain plant, animal, bird, bug or flower.

5. For our readers in Vancouver mainly, try to avoid major changes in elevation; young kids can have trouble adjusting to changes in altitude. They may get earaches, or have difficulty breathing.

6. Using a child back-carrier is way better than carrying a child on your shoulders. Enough said.

7. Have kids carry a small knapsack with a sweater, some water, and a snack. Increase the load as they get older and help them or teach them to pack their own knapsacks.

8. Allow a certain amount of freedom (using caution of course) and independence to the kids, but set limits for how far children can be from you.

Where to find more information:
Vancouver Hiking Trails
Fit Frog Adventures, Hiking in Calgary
Ontario Trails, Downtown Toronto
Ottawa Outdoor Club


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