Alex hiking Monitor Ridge, Mt. St. Helens

The 5 Best Tips For Hiking With Young Kids

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

After hiking 1,000 vertical feet uphill on the dusty Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in Yosemite Valley, baking under a thermonuclear Sierra sun, we sat on rocks for a snack and a much-needed break. My seven-year-old daughter, unprompted, blurted out, “I’m tired and hungry!” My nine-year-old son was still fuming over having been woken up earlier than he prefers (which is 11 a.m.) for this hike—although we were broiling in the sun precisely because we didn’t start even earlier, when it was cooler. He groused, “If you’re going to wake me up that early, it’s your fault if I complain.”

It was looking like my plan to hike my kids and my 12-year-old nephew 3,000 feet and nearly four miles uphill to the brink of Upper Yosemite Falls—and then, of course, back down—was on the express bus to the graveyard for dumb ideas from overzealous hiker-dads.

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4 Responses to The 5 Best Tips For Hiking With Young Kids

  1. Jim Gavin   |  August 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Great ideas and article. I am 62 and raised two boys with many outdoor experiences. Meltdowns are going to happen; be prepared to talk through these things. Kids get overwhelmed by the unknown and can be intimidated by the experience. My wife would bring along Boxcar Children books to read along the trail. I would bring along a deck of Garfield Crazy Eights, and when the boys started getting a little squirrelly, we would get out the deck and play a game.

    Get them involved in fixing their problem. A warm spot in a boot, a loose strap or a broken shoelace can all be mitigated by active involvement in the cure. Hard candy on long uphills or at the end of the day can help with distracting the young mind from the task at hand. Most of all, be prepared to modify your trip or stay home if the weather is miserable. A little rain never hurt anyone but being cold AND wet does not make for a quality outdoor family experience. Also be prepared to modify your plans if your child is having a “off” day.

    • MichaelALanza   |  August 23, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience, Jim. Regarding cold, wet weather, I’ve long been a believer that you should try to outfit your kids as well as you outfit yourself, to keep them more comfortable and happier.

  2. gemmajaneadventures   |  July 31, 2015 at 4:10 am

    Awesome post! I remember the lure of ‘anti moaning sweets’ when I was a kid, and regular short breaks to consume fudge certainly got a 9yr old me and my 7yr old sister up Ben Nevis (The tallest mountain in the UK) Get your kids hiking when they’re little and they’ll love it… although you may end up regretting it when the roles are reversed (I took my parents on a couple of multi day hikes when they came to visit me in New Zealand, then I was the one trying to motivate/ take care of them!) We all had fun though, and I’m glad they dragged me on walks when I was little, because I love going hiking now! 🙂

    • michaellanza   |  July 31, 2015 at 6:34 am

      Thanks Gemma. Ben Nevis is an impressive hike for young kids; my wife and I did it when our kids were too young to join us. I also want to take my family to New Zealand, where I’ve hiked a few times, now that our kids are old enough for it.

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