Hiking is one of the best ways to introduce your kids to the benefits of the outdoors and is a great way to spend quality family time together away from screens. It’s also an easy way to keep them active and to have new adventures together. From fun tips for hiking with kids to essential gear, we'll help you make unforgettable memories on the trails.
Hiking with kids is all about having fun and making it fun for them! We'll give you plenty of ideas to engage and entertain your children along the way. Additionally, we'll highlight the gear that every hiking trip with kids should include. Get ready to hit the trails with our ultimate guide to hiking with kids!
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Start When They’re Young
This ship may have sailed for you, depending on how old your kids are, but if you start hiking with your kids while they’re young it will become part of their normal routine and they’ll soon come to enjoy it.
We started walking with our daughter when she was 3, on short, easy trails and gradually built up the difficulty and distance.
Start Out Small and Build Up
Like most things in life, you want to start small and build up your route difficulty and length. Choose shorter, easier routes to keep things fun at first, and when your kids have some hiking confidence you can add in longer routes or routes with more hills or uneven terrain. They’ll love the sense of achievement of completing a route!
Mix Things Up
Rather than just hiking round the same routes, try mixing it up! If you normally walk a reservoir loop, try heading up some hills (or mini mountains), or why not find a walk with a small beginner’s scramble section to add a sense of adventure? Adding in a place of interest such as a tower, cave, or other interesting place can keep kids interested for longer and leads on nicely to my next point.
Have a Goal to Reach
Whether this is a hike to a cool place such as a cave or a trig point on a hill, having a goal to reach can really spur them on. Completing a challenge, or having a walking log to record their adventures and achievements in, can also be a great way to keep kids interested in the outdoors. We completed the Peak District Ethels Challenge and are working our way through the Lake District Wainwrights.
I’m sure this is a no-brainer, but hiking without snacks is a recipe for disaster! We like to bring lots of snacks to stay motivated and ensure energy levels are up! Our favourites are energy bars such as Hobnobs, or Mini Cheddars, but I’ve taken homemade granola bars before – it just depends if I have time to make them or not.
One hiking essential though is Haribo – we always take a bag of Tangfastics to keep us going up the mountains!
One of the easiest ways to keep kids occupied and motivated on the trails is to play games. Whether it’s the classic I-Spy or Would You Rather… games or counting games, playing games not only helps your kids take their minds off the miles, but also brings you closer together.
Let Them be in Charge
Something as simple as letting them pick the route you take (from a couple of preapproved walking routes) or even just holding the map can make children feel involved and respected. Giving them the map can also help them learn valuable map skills which will be so helpful later in life, and they’ll be learning without even realising.
Allow Plenty of Time to Complete Your Hike
Start out early in the day and make sure you allow enough time to finish your hike safely. You don’t need the added stress of rushing to get your walk done! Make sure you hike at your kids pace, allowing plenty of rest stops and snack stops along the way.
Make Sure They Have Appropriate Clothes
This is a really important point - the right clothes can make all the difference to how your kids will enjoy the walk. Choose sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes for rugged trails to provide support and comfort. Walking long distances in wellies isn’t great for kids’ feet, especially on a cold day, and trainers aren’t good if they get wet! Make sure they’re dressed in comfortable layers and a good waterproof coat is essential! Regatta have some stylish, affordable options to make sure your kids are kitted out properly for the trails.
Do you have any other suggestions for hiking with kids? Let us know in the comments!