My family and I went hiking 2 weekends ago. We had a really good time.
We went to Devils Punchbowl. We've been there before. See here.
This is the view from the top of the "punchbowl" (the park gets its name from its deep canyon):
Here we are at the bottom of the canyon:
Do you see the owl eyes in the picture below?
And this is the view looking up from the bottom:
We had planned for lunch after our hike in the park's picnic area, but forgot some of our items- those that needed to be refrigerated stayed in our... *drumroll* refrigerator. Oops. We also didn't pack sunscreen or enough water. Amateurs is what we are. We're hoping to make hiking a regular activity for our family. So we don't make the same silly mistakes again, I decided to research tips for hiking with kids. I've compiled my own list to share with you, but I link to those articles I read at the end of this post.
Make sure they're wearing the proper shoes + clothes
You don't want the lack of proper clothes or shoes to inhibit their experience. You know what your child is safest and most comfortable wearing- hiking boots, athletic shoes, light tops, etc.
Bring plenty of water + snacks
You want your little ones to stay hydrated and energized.
Pack sunscreen, hats, first-aid kits, extra clothes
You don't want your little ones to sunburn, and you definitely want a first-aid kit around if they get hurt.
Consider investing in a back carrier for you little ones
Juli is our youngest at 18 months. Jesse used a back carrier and used it for the duration of our hike. She was happy for the entire hike.
Choose a kid-friendly hiking trail
That is, make sure it isn't too long or strenuous at first. As they get older or better at it, challenge them (and yourself).
Don't venture out too far at first
You don't want the travel to drain their energy and you need to be prepared to head home quickly if need be.
Get an early start
It's all about maintaining their energy. Kids can get very grumpy if their energy has been drained. You want them at their happiest/most cooperative. I had my littlest ones take a nap before we headed out.
Stop if your child wants to stop
What are you their hiking trainer? ;) If they want to stop and look at a lizard (mine did), discuss flowers, etc., let them. They're also learning as they hike- encourage your tiny explorer.
Your child is more likely to have fun if friends come along.
Consider not calling it "hiking"
Hiking can imply "arduous miles of work to a child. Call it 'adventuring,' as in 'Who wants to go on an adventure today?'" I love this tip from Ivar Chhina.
Finally and most importantly, be flexible
With kids, flexibility is essential with any activity. The "adventure" might not be going so well, and you may have to head home. That's okay. There's always next time!
These are the articles I read, which helped me compile my tips. (I highly recommend the first one).
Expert Advice: Kids and Hiking via REI
Hiking With Your Child via BabyCenter
6 Tips for Hiking with Kids by Jessica Sanders for Active Kids
Take a Hike! 8 Family-Friendly Tips via Parents
Take Your Kids Hiking: 10 Tips to Make the Adventure Fun for the Whole Family via Wilderness
Happy adventuring! :)