Hiking is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the beauty of nature. A family hike is a great way to connect your children to the outdoors while building a strong, family bond. Take a look at some hiking tips that will make your family hike safe and enjoyable.
When you’re hiking with children, especially younger children under 12, keep your hiking goals and path simple. Start with shorter hikes that lead to an end goal or destination like a beautiful lake or waterfall, nature reserve or picnic area. Plan to spend extra time on your hike, because children often want to explore along the way. They often enjoy gathering leaves, pine cones, colorful rocks or other mementos from the trail. With most children, the hike is all about the journey, not always just getting to the final destination.
Day hikes are best for family outings. Although night hikes are exciting, they can be dangerous, especially for children. Plan a day hike that’s fun and not too rigorous and make sure you’re prepared with necessary information and equipment:
* Before you begin your hike, always check the weather to avoid rainstorms. Unexpected rainstorms can cause mud slides, falling rocks and slippery conditions that contribute to falls.
* Choose an interesting hiking trail where you can see wildlife such as birds, rabbits, squirrels and larger creatures. Avoid trails that are not well-maintained, so you can avoid dangers.
* Make sure you wear the right hiking shoes. Avoid sneakers, flip-flops or uncomfortable shoes which can cause blisters, tired, aching feet or sprained ankles.
* Take a good map and compass and know how to use them.
* Take a pocket knife and pack fire-starting supplies in a water-proof container.
* Pack rain gear, extra layers of clothing, and sun protection.
* Pack extra food and water.
* Pack a first aid kit and a whistle for each person as an extra safety measure.
* Don’t litter the hiking trail. Food and litter can attract wild animals to your path.
When hiking, it’s important to follow designated trails for safety. Don’t let your children wander off the hiking trail to explore nature. They can get disoriented with direction or lost, even though they think they can find you easily. In the woods, most of the scenery looks alike and there are no clear markers to find your way. If your kids enjoy hiking check out some of the wilderness therapy programs offered by schools like Wood Creek Academy.