& How to Keep Kids Motivated on the Trail
Photo credit: @mama.bear.fit5
Do you want to start hiking with kids? Do you already bring your littles on hikes with you, but you’re looking for unique ways to keep them motivated and engaged?
We’ve got you covered!
In this blog, you’ll find 10 tips to keep kids curious and excited about hitting the trails. First let’s talk about what our youth will love about spending time in the great outdoors.
The Benefits of Hiking with Kids
Hiking is fun at any age, and anyone can benefit from its mind-body benefits — especially kids!
Hiking with kids helps you...
- Spend quality time with your little ones
- Challenge each other in a positive way
- Unplug your technology and reset in nature
And a whole lot more.
Hiking will undoubtedly enrich all your lives, and you’ll create memories together that will last a lifetime. If you’re ready to bring the family together in a fun & affordable way, keep reading!
Learn the Top 10 Tips for Hiking with Kids
#1. Start them young
The sooner kids start experiencing nature, the more likely they will incorporate hiking into their lifestyle later on. The tools you teach them now will be invaluable to them, and they might even pass them onto their own kids later in life. You can start hiking with your kids as early as you feel comfortable. There are carriers for babies to ride on your back, and keep in mind short hikes are still hikes. Enjoy the journey!
#2. Make it fun
Enhance your hiking by playing a game, singing a song, telling fairy tales and stories, and the list goes on. Get creative and use your imagination so your kids can use theirs! There are no rules except to have fun, be safe and respect the wilderness all around you.
Here’s some inspiration for you:
- Play the alphabet game to name what you see
- Pretend you’re on a treasure hunt
- Make up your own game
- Get into geocaching
- Identify plants
#3. Bring lots of snacks
Can you ever have too many snacks? In our opinion, the more snacks the better. After all, food is one of the 10 essentials. Hiking burns a lot of calories, so it’s important to refuel often. Plus, your kids won’t mind taking a break to enjoy a salty snack. We love snacks like trail mix, dried fruit, energy bars, bananas, and you can’t go wrong with a peanut butter sandwich.
#4. Reward their hard work
Hiking is hard work, and you and your kids deserve recognition for your accomplishment. Little incentives will motivate your kids to hike time and time again. You can offer a prize or treat for hitting a milestone, like 4 hikes in a month, or you can give them a treat after finishing a challenging hike. Rewards don’t have to be expensive or elaborate — your kids will appreciate whatever you give them. Examples include treating them to ice cream after a hike or giving them a patch to put on their pack.
Photo credit: Emily Klein
#5. Plan, prepare and pack accordingly
Having fun on a hike is easy when you go prepared. Make sure you plan out your hike ahead of time. Study a map before you set out, and plot out your route. Prepare for the forecasted weather and always have an emergency plan, just in case. When packing for you and your kids, be sure to carry the 10 essentials at all times, and make sure you have enough food and water for everyone in your hiking party.
#6. Teach them about nature & the great outdoors
Hiking is a whole new school outside the classroom. It’s a great way to immerse kids in environmental education without sticking them at a desk or behind a screen. You can make your time outside educational by teaching kids about the flora & fauna, land acknowledgements, Leave No Trace, Recreate Responsibly, and more.
Photo credit: @daleywalk
#7. Ensure hiking trails are accessible
Go at your kids’ pace, don’t push it too far too fast. Start with an easy hike and work your way up to longer, more challenging treks. Avoid hiking in peak heat or when the sun is at its strongest. Be sure to take breaks regularly, and as we’ve said, a snack never hurts and always helps boost morale! As your kids get more comfortable with hiking, you can start to venture out further and for longer.
#8. Choose interesting hikes
As you probably know, kids have short attention spans, so keeping them entertained is important. The last thing you want to hear is “I’m bored.” So, we recommend choosing trails that are full of different features that will keep all of you on your toes. Some trails even have interpretive signs that will teach you about the environment you’re hiking in. Hikes with desirable destinations like waterfalls, rivers or big trees are always exciting for kids – and you!
#9. Create a hiking bucket list
Set big hiking goals and work your way up to them. Your kids will enjoy the challenge, and you will all love exploring new amazing places together. Goal setting is a great skill to teach kids, and they can incorporate it into other areas of their life as they grow. If you’re coming up short on bucket list hikes, we recommend starting with national parks! Our public lands have endless wonders to offer you.
#10. Invite friends and other families to join you
Hiking is fun with friends! Your kids will love building bonds with others by exploring nature together. If you find friends and families who love hiking as much as you do, you can even create your own hiking group and hit the trails together regularly! After all, hiking is a fun, healthy and accessible activity for all ages.
Photo credit: @__es3__
Kids Who Hike Are Curious, Creative, Energetic, Enthusiastic, Determined & Driven... to name a few!
Kids who hike build valuable life skills that they will carry with them off the trail and into their adult life. Not only will you love your time together, but you will introduce them to a healthy hobby that has countless mind-body benefits.
So, are you ready to hit the trails and start creating lasting memories together?
Take 52 Hikes With Your Kids
Did you know you can easily incorporate most of these tips into your hiking adventures when you take the 52 Hike Challenge Kids Series?
This play on the original 52 Hike Challenge motivates kids to hit the trails with an interactive activity book and a huge community of other hiking families like you.
The goal is to take one hike a week for a year (52 hikes total). You can start any time, and you don’t need to be an experienced hiker. We consider a hike to be one mile or more. If you don’t have access to hiking trails, you can opt for neighborhood walks. Our main objective is to get you outside enjoying nature together!
Find out everything you need to know about the 52 Hike Challenge Kids Series:
- Sign up for the 52 Hike Challenge Kids Series
- Download the 52 Hike Challenge Kids Series Activity Book
- Discover resources for completing the 52 Hike Challenge Kids Series