6 Tips For Hiking With Kids

1 comment / Posted on by Rita O'Neal


We're planning a family trip to Kauai in August and I'm so excited to visit Waimea Canyon (http://www.gohawaii.com/kauai/regions-neighborhoods/west-side/waimea-canyon) with my 3-year-old. It's considered the Grand Canyon of Kauai at 14 miles long and 3,600 feet deep. It will be a lovely sight to photograph and take a family hike around but I really have no idea what to expect so I've been researching online and found some great tips on what to do while visiting that I'm excited to share with you below. Not everyone gets to visit the lovely Kauai (this will be my first trip there), but these tips come in handy during any hiking trip with kids. 

1. Limit Expectations: Keep your first hiking adventure small, and don't push yourself or your family to make it to the end if it isn't really going to happen. Making it to mile 2 out of 5 is pretty good for a first hike! Plan for a very small walk, then keep going if the whole family is willing (knowing that the long walk back awaits). Be sure there's a bathroom on-site, or bring along a kids collapsible potty for emergency gotta go situations (especially if working on potty training). 

2. Dress Appropriately: Check the weather forecast and keep in mind weather conditions when you choose your attire. If you're hiking through an area that may have poison oak or a lot of bugs, you may want to wear long pants tucked into your shoes. If it's an open dusty trail shorts should be OK. Either way, you'll want to wear close-toed shoes with grip. Be sure to apply sunscreen or sunblock (not the kind that sprays as that can be inhaled and also the wind can blow most of it a different direction than your skin). Reapply your sun protection after 40 minutes-1.5 hours depending on the instructions on your product.

3. Inform Your Child(ren): If this will be your first hike or longer walking trek, talk to your child about it ahead of time to prepare her for what may happen during the outing. Let her know the different sounds she'll hear, animals she'll see, and that she will need to dress a certain way because of the type of outing it is to stay safe. Talk about the length and distance of the trip so that she knows how long to expect, and what to expect when out.

 4. Prepare Your Pack: Bring a light pack with ample water supply (a lightweight water pouch that can go flat when empty is great for longer walks. Otherwise your usual water bottle is nice if you can carry it). Other items depend on your trip, but a first-aid kit, some snacks and sunscreen/sunblock are a must.

 5. Bring a Carrier: If you're child has sensory needs, is always wanting to be picked up, or is a baby then you'll want to bring a carrier. If you wrap, then that's a great option. My daughter prefers a soft-structured toddler carrier so I can wear her on my back. It's great for getting through the airport and it doesn't have the bulky metal frame of some hiking backpacks for kids so I can store it easily in my luggage if needed. It's no fun going on a long walk or short hike with your child only to hear, "I'm tired, I can't move. Carry me!" when you still have the long trek back left. Bringing along a carrier makes things so much easier once that inevitable request comes up.

 6. Enjoy the Hike: Take photos to remember, talk to your child about trail safety, and play some fun games where you try to guess the animal sound or spot things.


Do you have tips for hiking with kids? Please share!


Shari Wargo Stamps is a Bay Area content creator and publishes Savvy Every Day(http://www.savvyeveryday.com), a lifestyle website for families worldwide.

1 comment

  • Posted on by Dani Blanchette

    My dad used to love bringing us hiking as kids. We thought we were on ridiculously long, amazing adventures. Usually we were in a small park with trails down the road. But I remember once we ended up on the wrong trail and did almost 6 miles! I was 10.

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