Kids on the Trail

Start family hikes off on the right foot

Do you remember the first time you saw a waterfall? Heard frogs croaking? Spotted a beaver lodge? Stood inside a cave? When you take a hike with young kids, you get to experience the magic of discovering nature all over again. It’s a golden opportunity to create beautiful memories, expand their understanding of the world, and build self-confidence. Plus, it’s the perfect antidote to all that screen time.

Hitting the trail with kids can be both gratifying and exasperating, and comes with its own special charms and challenges. Get off on the right foot and you might have a hiking buddy for life. Here are some tips for a safe and successful hike with kids.

PACK A FULL CHANGE OF CLOTHES

Kids have a propensity to get wet, and a cold kid is an unhappy kid. Bring warm layers and rain gear too. Avoid cotton – just like adults, kids need quick-dry clothing and proper footwear. Don’t forget the wet wipes and, if applicable, extra diapers.

BRING FOOD THE KIDS WILL EAT (AND PLENTY OF IT)

Prevent the hangry child. Frequent snacking (and drinking) will help keep kids’ energy levels and spirits up. Pack a picnic for lunch. Be sure to carry extra water.

REDUCE YOUR SPEED

Curious kids will stop to investigate every ditch, snail, or spiderweb. Have a closer look yourself and delight in their discoveries.

TAKE LOTS OF BREAKS

Shorter legs require more steps to cover the same distance. If you never had any use for park benches and picnic tables, you’ll appreciate their value now.

SEEK OUT WATER

Whether it’s icicles, lakes, puddles, streams, or waves on a beach, water is a huge hit with kids. Any trail with plenty of opportunities to see, hear, and splash in water is solid gold. Keep kids close and be careful around slippery rocks, swift currents, and deep water.

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE FROM DROP-OFFS AND WILDLIFE

Hold on to young kids in steep terrain and around cliffs.
Don’t throw stones from heights, roll rocks downhill, or chase wildlife. Stay together to reduce the likelihood of a bear attack or getting lost.

TALK ABOUT SAFETY

Pack the 10 essentials (light, signalling device, fire-making kit, extra clothes, pocket knife, shelter or emergency blanket, water and food, first-aid kit, navigation and communication (cellphone) devices, sun protection) and leave a trip plan with a responsible person — and include the kids as you do. Teach kids the four rules of AdventureSmart’s Hug a Tree and Survive program:

1. Tell an adult where you are going
2. If you are lost, “hug a tree” and stay put
3. Keep warm and dry
4. Help searchers find you by answering their calls

Have fun!

You May Also Like
Adventuring with the Family


GREAT HIKES FOR KIDS

British Columbia, KILLARNEY LAKE
Location: Bowen Island
Round trip: 8 km
Walk onto the ferry at Horseshoe Bay to savour this lollipop hike in Crippen Regional Park. Stop to observe a waterfall and fish ladder. Find the hollow trees. If you’re lucky, you’ll see horses on the trail.

Alberta, JOHNSON LAKE
Location: Banff National Park
Round trip: 3 km
Circumnavigate a pretty lake not far from the town of Banff. Have a picnic or take a swim. There’s even a rope swing. Views of Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain are guaranteed to impress the whole family.

Ontario, MIZZY LAKE TRAIL
Location: Algonquin Provincial Park
Round trip: 11 km
Give up counting all the beaver lodges and dams as you thread your way through several lakes. Listen for the call of the loon. Odds are good that you’ll see a moose — or at least a turtle. Kids will enjoy the lengthy boardwalks.


Read This Story in Our 2022 Summer Outdoor & Travel Digital Edition

Cold Water King, Core-Centric Fitness, Prepare for Hiking Season, Mountain Bike Fundamentals, The Simple Ways Movement Gives Us ‘Hope’, recipes and much more!

Support Local Media

Since 1991, IMPACT Magazine has produced freely distributed award-winning editorial content, including departments on fitness, health, nutrition, food, training, sports medicine, travel and features on the top athletes across the country.

Why Your Support Matters

IMPACT Magazine has kept its publication free and available to readers for 30 years. We believe that everyone deserves access to quality, credible health and fitness content to live their healthiest and best lives. We pride ourselves on delivering the best editorial from the best experts in their fields along with supporting both local and national brands that align with our core values.

We are independently owned and operated and support local fitness and health professionals, writers, photographers, designers and artists.

Please consider supporting IMPACT Magazine by making a donation of any amount via PayPal below. Your donations will help us continue to make an IMPACT into the future!

Impact Magazine DonationsDonate to Impact Magazine