Take a Summer Hike with Your Kids

Take a Hike!

How to get your kids to appreciate the great outdoors...

Summer vacation season is upon us. For many kids that will mean spending many hours on the couch playing video games. Going outside? Boring. Hiking? That’s just a really long walk.

"If you want your kids to enjoy hiking and the great outdoors, you need to make it fun," says Jeff Alt, renowned hiking expert and author of the new book Get Your Kids Hiking! How to Start Them Young and Keep it Fun.

Hiking is a great way to relax, connect with nature, and enjoy time with your family. Bringing your kids along can be rewarding for you and for them, but it can also add new challenges and concerns to your trip. Get Your Kids Hiking! is loaded with everything you need to know to hit the trail with kids; from gear to simple proven techniques that will make your hike safe and fun. Written with both the novice and the seasoned hiker in mind, Jeff Alt provides all the information you need to take your child out on the trail.

Here are some tips when planning a family hike...

Find the Perfect Trail
Finding just the perfect trail can be as easy as looking up trails online. In Ontario, we have many resouces that gives information on trails, the length, the difficulty, and more. It makes picking a hike simple and easy. Here they are:
Ontario Trails Map
Hike Ontario
Ontario Trails Council

Let the Kids Lead
Hike at your child’s pace and distance. Whatever your child takes interest in, stop and explore that bug, leaf or rock with them. Tell them about the animals, rocks, trees, and flowers. Getting to the destination is less important than making sure your kids have so much fun; they will want to go again and again.

Count Down to Adventure
Get kids excited with pictures, videos, and highlights of the places they will go and the things they will see. Use books, magazines, maps, and the Internet, especially park websites and videos showing the spectacular wildlife and locations they will see.

Take Advantage of Park Guides
Utilize the amazing services and resources offered by our parks, trail and recreational system, and associations. This will help ensure that the experience is enjoyable and memorable.

Play Games
Play I Spy using your surroundings as you walk along. Create your own scavenger hunt in search of animals, plants, and views along the way. Pack along a plant and animal identification guide for your older child.

Bring a Friend
Sometimes an outing can be more fun when your kids have someone their own age to go on adventures with, and while you may feel like you're shepherding a small herd, it's actually easier.

Get the Gear
Wear comfortable pants/shorts and shirts that fit the weather. Comfortable shoes, running shoes, or hiking boots are essentail as would light clothing in layers (depending upon the weather). Bring a light poncho just in case of rain. Wear a wide brim for sun protection.

Get age and size appropriate backpacks that fit each hiker comfortably. Let young children fill their adventure pack with a bug catcher, magnifying glass, binoculars, a camera, a map and compass, whistle, or flashlight. Let your little adventurer take ownership and pack a few items of his own; even if it’s not hiking related.

Trekking Poles
You can let the kids find walking sticks along the route, but the new design of trekking poles make them safe, sturdy, and adjustable walking aids for everyone in the family. They will enhance your stability and support on all types of terrain.

Bring a smart phone so you can take lots of pictures and if there’s connectivity, you can use the GPS signal to keep yourself located on the trail and for geocaching.

Be Respectful of Nature
Much has been said about the importance of preserving nature and all living things. Teach your children about nature and animals who inhabit our planet and the need to preserve them for their generation as well as the generation to come. Help kids remember to stay on designated trails and to not mar and mark areas which are to be left in their natural state.

First Aid
No matter how hard you try to get hurt, someone will surely get a small cut or scrape, so be sure to carry along a small first-aid kit with a few bandages and antiseptic. Also review this list of Trail Safety with your kids.

Get Your Kids Hiking! How to Start Them Young and Keep it Fun is available on Amazon and at all major bookstores.

Where are some of your favourite hiking trails in Ontario?

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