Are you looking for help on how to plan the perfect family hike? Yes, you’re in luck with this family hiking guide for beginners. Hiking is a great inexpensive way to spend time with your family outdoors. If you’ve never hiked with your kids before, it might seem intimidating. You might think your kids will get bored or tired. How will you survive? Being prepared is essential to having a great time in nature and soaking up the natural beauty. The great thing about hiking is you don’t need specialized gadgets. Or expensive equipment to have fun.
Finding Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails
You have decided that your family wants to start hiking! Your first step is to find a close-to-home easy trail. You want your young kids to enjoy the hike, a few quick wins will motivate them to continue hiking.
What To Look For In A Kid-Friendly Hiking Trail
My recommendation is to start with a short hike that’s at max 2 miles – with minimal elevation change. The shorter hike should take around 1 to 2 hours depending on where your kid’s exploration takes you. Then increase the time and difficulty depending on how the hikes go. Check out https://www.hikingproject.com for the best trails. Look for a short trail with rocks, logs, bridges, creeks or boardwalks! This is the perfect place to get your little ones outside and exploring. Let your kids help choose the hiking trail and make them feel important.
Plan Ahead for Your Family Hike
Decide what time your family will start and an estimated time to finish before you leave. Estimate the time using the trail map recommended above. You will also want a turnaround location and snack breaks.
What to Pack for Your Family Hike?
You will need a hiking backpack, make sure it is comfortable to wear. Your kids do not need to carry a backpack but it might be fun for them if they want to. My kids choose not to take a backpack so ask them first.
Pack snacks and water. Make sure you have enough water for everyone. Let your kids choose some snacks, they could even help make them so the first hike is extra special. Snacks can be a huge motivator, my kids like both snacks for the car ride and on the hike, you can never have enough.
Bug spray, sunscreen, and bear spray. Are all important depending on your location and weather?
A trail map downloaded on your phone. And your phone for navigation and in case of emergencies.
It’s easy to injure yourself on a hike so bring a small first aid kit. Include a Multi-Tool if you have one as well.
The Ten Essentials – First Aid Kit
Other considerations would be to borrow or buy a carrier or stroller for any small child under 5.
If you have space I recommend packing some binoculars or a microscope for your kids. For young kids, I would bring an attachable activity stuffy. If you have older kids a nature journal is a great idea.
What to Wear Hiking
You don’t need fancy hiking gear when you are starting and doing short hikes. But you do want to be comfortable so it is enjoyable!
Check the weather before you leave and dress in layers, this way you take off a layer when you get hot. This will keep you comfortable for the whole hike. Synthetic and wool clothing that has moisture-wicking properties are your best choice over cotton shirts and pants. A hat is also a good idea.
Pack an extra change of clothes for your kids for the car in case they get wet or dirty. Synthetic sports socks or wool socks are good at preventing blisters when hiking.
Chose Comfortable Hiking Footwear
Comfortable shoes are a must as you will be on your feet. If you can invest in hiking shoes they would make the best choice if not then wear runners or boots if it is winter. The ideal hiking shoes are waterproof, made with breathable material. They have good ankle support and have plenty of traction for safety. Choose shoes that your kids can walk in with good support.
How to Have Fun on Your Family Hike?
Here are some ideas if you think your kids might get bored on your family hike.
Invent games to play. Make a scavenger hunt with a list of objects or animals to spot everyone gets a treat for completing.
Another idea is to read a book beforehand about the plants in the area. Then bring a nature journal and see how many you see in real life. This could also work for insects, birds, or mushrooms.
Family Hiking Tips
- Remember to check the weather when packing. And then also double check before you leave, if the weather changes for the worst change your plans.
- Kids have a lot of emotions so take it slow and be patient. Again be aware you may need to change your plans.
- When hiking you need to respect nature. Stay on the trail and try not to yell and disturb other hikers. Always keep all your trash and make sure not to litter.
- You or your kids might have to pee to let them know they will have to go in the bush. If they have to poop dig a hole and you can use large leaves to wipe.
Kelly grew up in a small beach town in the boreal forest. Now she is a mom of two adventurous boys. Before deciding to stay home with her boys she worked as a financial associate at a credit union and has always been very frugal. Living in Manitoba Canada near the Whiteshell, trails were plentiful and outdoor adventures always waiting.
Whether it’s biking on single tracks or swimming at the beach, summertime or winter, she jumps at every chance to escape the city and get back to nature.
Kellys other interests include cooking and more cooking