Are the cooler temperatures and beautiful fall colors tempting you outdoors for a hike? Do it! And bring your kids along for the adventure. If you've never hiked with your kids before, it may seem a little intimidating, but with a little planning — and a lot of snacks! — you too can conquer this challenge. The whole family will be glad you did.
Here are seven tips that will help make your next family hike successful:
1. Bring plenty of snacks. Well-fed kids make happy hikers. Plan to take plenty of snack breaks to help kids refuel and stay motivated.
2. Keep them hydrated. Bring plenty of water along on your hike and make sure your kids drink it. Sure, that might mean they will have to tackle the challenge of peeing in the woods, but thirsty kids are cranky kids and cranky kids won't have any fun on a hike!
3. Start slow and short. If this is your child's first hike, keep the pace slow and the distance short. Once they grow more accustomed to hiking, you can try lengthening your trips, but you should still plan on keeping a leisurely pace so that your kids have time to stop and explore along the way.
4. Bring a friend. For your child, not for you. Kids love to hike with other kids, and their buddies can keep them motivated to continue on down the trail much more easily than you can.
5. Let kids choose the hike. If possible, narrow down the hike possibilities to two or three choices and let your child choose which path you'll take.
6. Think like your kid. You may think that mountain vista is cool, but your child may be more interested in that hollow tree or cool rock formation that you blew past on your way. Keep your child's interests in mind when your planning your hike.
7. Emphasize fun. Play games like I-spy, make up a scavenger hunt, or try geocaching to keep your kids interested along the hike.