Safety Tips for Hiking with Kids
Hiking with Children
Hiking with children is a great way to get kids out into nature, while getting some exercise at the same time. It's a fun way to spend some quality family time together and let kids do some exploring.
Having four children, I've had quite a bit of experience with this and would like to share some of the tips I've used to help ensure that your family has wonderful hiking experiences while at the same time keeping children safe.
If you have any tips I've missed, please feel free to add them at the end.
Trail photo by SeppVie at Wikimedia Commons.
Hiking with Kids
To start with, make sure kids are dressed comfortably. It wouldn't hurt to have a spare set of clothes in the car. Now, kids may want to wear sandals if it's hot outside, but for safety reasons, closed toed shoes are better. This protects them from accidentally scraping up their toes.
Before leaving for a hike, talk to your kids about the importance of staying on the trail. Children are naturally curious and will think nothing of wandering off, not taking into consideration that there could be poison oak in the area, snakes or unsafe areas.
I would suggest bringing a pair of binoculars so if they see something afar that they're curious about, the binoculars will give them a much better view. Binoculars will also allow kids to get in some bird watching.
Sign image by Wing-Chi Poon at Wikimedia Commons.
Hiking Trails for Kids
When picking a trail, choose one that your kids can comfortably hike on. Younger kids especially may tire out quickly if there are too many steep hills to climb.
Try to find one with interesting things to see and do. For example, does the trail have any interactive activities? How about a creek or waterfall? Kids love water.
Often, local parks have trails, so there's a good place to start.
Be prepared to stop and rest frequently. If kids get tired, the rest of the hike could be ruined.
Hiking photo by jdurham at morgueFile.
Binoculars for Kids
What I like about these is that they have non-slip rubber armor which helps kids maintain a firm grip.
This set is good for younger children. Not only is it durable, it comes with a fun strap so kids don't have to carry them with their hands.
These are really cool for night hikes. You can see up to 50' ahead in complete darkness.
Do you hike with kids?
What to Bring on a Hike
Before starting, apply sunscreen. I personally like to use the waterproof kind in case my kids do come in contact with water.
We tend to get a lot of mosquitoes in some of the trails we go on, so I make sure to use some insect repellent.
I advise having some kind of first aid kit handy. With any luck, you won't need it, but it's good to have just in case someone falls down and gets a scrape.
Keep on hand some kind of wipes, tissue or toilet paper. As gross as this may sound, when a kid "has to go," a kid has to go. It's better to be prepared.
Water is a must. If using disposable plastic bottles, I suggest freezing them the night before so as the kids hike, the ice will melt and the water will be nice and cold. Otherwise, fill the water bottles with lots of ice.
Bring along some healthy snacks. Even if you don't think your kids will get hungry, it's best to have them on hand anyway.
Include a small container of hand sanitizer, especially if you think your kids will be eating a snack.
Be sure to have a cell phone handy in case of emergency.
First aid kit available from Amazon below.
Hiking Safety Video
Short video with great advice.
Of course, you want your kids to have fun. There are lots of fun things to do along a trail.
Come up with a list of things for your kids to look for while on the hike. Suggestions include a black bug, a bird in the tree, poop, (kids always think poop is so funny,) berries, the sound of a frog and pointy leaves.
Do you have a metal detector? Kids can have lots of fun with these, especially if hiking near a beach area.
If there is a creek or a sandy area, pack some shovels and let them dig.
With close supervision, encourage them to touch and smell different things along the way.
Depending on how much stuff you're bringing, you might let each of them carry a lightweight backpack to keep their own supplies in.
Let them take some pictures to remember their hike with.
As you can see, there are many fun activities to keep kids busy and happy while hiking.
Original source of this image is Portable Antiquities Scheme and was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by user Magnus Manske.
Shovel for Kids
Here's a shovel for kids that's inexpensive. Be sure to have one for each child so the kids don't fight over who gets to use it.
Hiking Check List
Here are some supplies in case you need anything.
Items include a variety of bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, medication and an instant cold pack.
Not oily or greasy.
Amazon Search for Hiking
Feel free to search on Amazon for your hiking needs.
Beautiful Hiking Trail
Image by imma at morgueFile.