Hiking is a fun an inexpensive way to play outside. There is no telling what you will find along the trail. Whether it is an animals tracks or eagle flying over head. 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 level of stress, ADHD and depression in children.

Planning

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 travelling a bit further away from home. Make sure to call for updates or check the parks websites. It is important to know safety and weather updates.

Packing

Now it is time to pack. Depending on where you are traveling and what time of the year you are travelling, you 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 thing you need to bring for the hike is water. Bring enough water for everyone for before, during and after the hike.

To prevent getting sunburn, make sure to wear sunscreen. Also you might want to wear sunglasses and hat. You might also want bring bug spray. Make sure to bring first aid kit. If you have used it before, double check and make sure there is 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 changes 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!

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