15 Sanity-Saving Tips for Hiking with Kids
By Madison Ross, age 9
Madison is an avid hiker who always has lots of advice for adults.
1. Bring plenty of snacks and water. This is probably the most important tip.
2. Make sure beforehand that you know how long or hard the trail is—can your child do it? Because I live in western New York, my favorite hiking book is Take a Hike!, which gives lots of local information. But you can almost always look at trail maps on the web.
3. Water near a trail adds fun and interest. Especially water you can wade or cross on a big log, like a creek.
4. Dress appropriately for the weather.
5. Kids need to rest along the way, so be sure you have time to spare to take a rest. Don't have a tight schedule. You don't want to be rushing through or running at the end.
6. Have the trail not be just to be in the woods, make sure there is something else like a playground or ice cream to go to at the end. Little kids need a goal to get them through.
7. Bring tissues for “bathroom” if necessary. Tissues are better than leaves.
8. Make sure your kids are happy before you go, because you don’t want a cranky child on a hike.
9. Have a purpose to the hike: Count all of the dogs, or different kinds of flowers, or birds you can hear, or nests you can see.
10. Bring a notebook and pencils and let kids draw what they see.
11. Kids love cameras, and if you trust them with yours, let them be the photographer.
12. Tell kids about the things they’ll be seeing on the trail. See if you can get a book to show them in advance. Bring a map, or look at the trail map on your way into the park.
13. Get ready to be the one carrying the backpack. Because even if it's theirs, they'll get tired.
14. Make sure the hiking boots or shoes fit! I was once wearing new hiking shoes, but they didn't fit right, and I got blisters. My dad had to carry me a lot of the way back.
15. Bring band-aids! Because blisters happen! (See above.)
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