Making Mountain Hiking Safe and Fun for Kids

Enjoying the great outdoors is one of America’s favorite summer activities, and the mountains are a perfect way to see a new place while getting in some exercise.  There’s just something about being in the wide open, surrounded by trees and wildlife, exploring new territory that brings campers and hikers alike to parks and mountains around the country.  Whether you are planning a week- long vacation or a short day hike, consider these tips when taking kids to the mountains.

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Invariably, when I ask my kids “Who wants to go on a hike?” not one of them raises their hand or screams “Yes! I do!” That makes it a bit harder to get the little people onboard with mountain hiking, but I’m not going to give up that easily. 

The best approach I have found is to start small with walks around your neighborhood, then a nearby trail or walking path when they are ready to lengthen their stride. A great activity to try out when you start your walks is to play some games like I Spy, collecting rocks and twigs, and my personal favorite…counting steps- ages 3-6 love this. 

Children, in general, do not like the idea of walking without a purpose, so the best way to keep them entertained and involved is by making it fun.  My advice is to start with an hour hike, then move to a flat mile or two hikes, then do hikes that might be a little steeper.  Don’t expect kids to want to hike steep trails at first. That can be very overwhelming for those little legs.

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