Tips for Hiking With Young Kids

Going to the grocery store with small children can seem like a monumental task, never mind taking your brood on a wilderness journey. But with a little patience, some practice, and a healthy dose of expectation management, you can make hiking a family affair.

Keep in mind, there will be good hikes, bad hikes, and “Why are you rolling in poison ivy?!” hikes. Treks with tykes are worth it, because you want them to value nature and, eventually, to defend it.

Your primary goal is to get your child out there and having fun, so prepare to start small, and in some cases… really small. Those first few “hikes” may only be a quarter mile, but celebrate like your preschooler just finished the AT.

You want them to feel successful right away, so they associate hiking with feeling good. Conversely, don’t stress if things don’t go well the first few times. Like hiking itself, there will be ups and downs (and maybe some crying).

Think of other things your child enjoys and use them to sell hiking. Does she love animals, climbing, streams, or dirt? Hiking has all of those. If that doesn’t work, you may need to resort to good old-fashioned bribery.

Here are 10 baby steps that’ll help you make the most of family time on the trail…


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