Hiking is a fun and inexpensive way to play outside. There is no telling what you will find along the trail. Whether it is an animal track or eagle flying overhead. You can even track the same trail over and over again and see something new each time.
Hiking outside is full of surprises and it is a great way for children to use their imagination. Playing outside is also connected to greater physical and mental well being. Many studies associate regular time in nature with increased brain activity and reduced levels of stress, ADHD and depression in children.
Before stepping in any trail, you’ll need to plan and pack. For your first hike, choose a trail that is closed to home. Longer adventures further away can happen gradually over time. Pick a trail that is easy. Something 1-kilometer round-trip and it is mostly flat. And don’t commit to a certain distance since the kids will be setting the hiking pace. And let kids participate in the planning. What do they want to see? If you are traveling a bit further away from home. Make sure to call for updates or check the park’s websites. It is important to know about safety and weather updates.
Now it is time to pack. Depending on where you are traveling and what time of the year you are traveling, your packing list will change. If the kids want to help carry things, pack a light bag for them. The adults will be the ones carrying the most of the supplies.
One of the most important things you need to bring for the hike is water. Bring enough water for everyone before, during and after the hike.
To prevent getting sunburn, make sure to wear sunscreen. Also, you might want to wear sunglasses and a hat. You might also want to bring bug spray. Make sure to bring a first aid kit. If you have used it before, double-check and make sure there are enough bandages and other supplies in it. Also, you want to bring any medications that anyone in the group might need.
Bring plenty of snacks. Like trail mix or carrots. Bring things that won’t get spoiled easily or smushed in your backpack.
Wear shoes that are appropriate for hiking. Leave the sandals at home. You might slip out with them or stub your toe. Instead, wear things like sneakers or boots.
Temperatures can change quite a bit throughout the day, so it is important to bring layers of clothing with you. Layers to put on when you are feeling cold and layers to take off when you are feeling hot. Bring a raincoat in case it rains.
Bring extra things, like a camera or you can bring a guide book. Now you are ready to start your adventure outside.
Ready to go
When you first get to the park. Orient yourself and set some rules. Like stay on the trail and stick together. Find the park facilities, like a visitor center if the park has one. Find the map and figure out where you are and where you are going.
On the trail follow the pace set by the kids. Take plenty of water and snack breaks. Look for things big and small from panoramic views, tall trees to flowers and wildlife. Emphasize fun throughout the hike and express your own sense of curiosity. With some simple planning and packing, hiking can be a lot of fun. Have a good one!