How to Go Hiking with Children and Have Fun + Tips for Parents

Hiking with children is a great activity to do as a family.  It gets everyone outside to enjoy the weather and all of Mother Nature. 

Some of my favorite memories have to be going on hikes with my family.  We’d always each have our own backpack and fill it up with water bottles, snacks, bandaids, and sunscreen.  Then we’d head off to a local nature park or state park and try out some of the hiking trails that are there. 

Now that I have a family of my own and young children, new challenges have presented themselves and hiking with children is not as easy as it once was.  Still, we love doing it (though I wish we did it more…)

7 Benefits of Hiking with Children

Yes, there really are benefits to hiking with children, even young ones! 

  1. Increases Kid’s attention span through the stimulation of everything that is out in nature.
  2. Kids get to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the fresh air.  (Don’t forget the sunscreen though!)
  3. Everyone gets in some exercise instead of sitting around all day.
  4. Hiking clears the mind
  5. Kids can still take a nap out on a hike (hey, I had my 1 year old in an Ergo, sleeping for a good 2 hours!  I was pretty impressed!)
  6. Teaches children about nature and the beauty and potential dangers out in it.
  7. You can play little games along the hiking trails – “I Spy” is loads of fun, create your own Scavenger Hunt as you go along.  The games don’t have to be anything elaborate, just something that will maybe distract your kids from an onset of boredom.  :)


Whether you’re heading out for a long hike or a short one, you’re going to have to do some preparations.  Make it fun though for everyone and put in some surprises! 

  1. Snacks – maybe though you’ll want to take a picnic lunch with you and eat it somewhere along the hiking trail.  Here’s some inspirations for a few snacks when hiking with children:     Fruit Gummy Snacks, Granola Bars,  Apples,  Nuts, Popcorn, Chex Mix, Suckers (suckers are great for your baby(18month +) in the ergo because they lick and lick and you can really hear the sounds of nature around you! ;)
  2. Sunscreen – Even if it’s cloudy, put it on!  Put it on before you start your hike and then about halfway through the hike reapply more.  You really can never wear too much! 
  3. Hats – If it’s an extra hot day, you can wet the hats and they will keep everyone cooler.
  4. Water – Have everyone bring their own water bottle + pack a larger water jug to keep in the car in case you run out. Gatorade or propel also make great drinks for hiking.
  5. Socks – in case the ones your kids are wearing get wet
  6. Band-Aids – you never know; your kids could end up with a few scrapes from sticks sticking out along the walking path. 
  7. A Sweater/Jacket – if you’re hiking in the mountains or if there’s a chance for a change in the weather temperature you might want to have everyone pack a sweater or light jacket.  In my opinion, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Then again, if you’re hiking with kids you’ll definitely want to know any potential weather changes and maybe change your hike for a different day. 

What to do with Babies

Little babies and toddlers are quite capable of hiking with you and your family.  However, here are 5 tips to make it easier for all involved.

  1. Choose a good baby carrier – We don’t go on very long hikes (maybe 2-3 hours max) anyways, we’ve always loved the Ergo Baby Carrier.  So easy on your back! If you're going to look into them consider color options for your husband!  I have to laugh because my sister has a really pretty black and white paisley Ergo and her husband moans and groans that it's not a little more masculine.  :)
  2. Have several different toys – pack a few toys that are easy to clip onto the baby pack.  That way they can’t fall. 
  3. Work around nap time -  Nap time to me is SUPER IMPORTANT!!!  I live for naptime each day and I think that the child does as well.  So, try to plan your hike either long before naptime hits or after naptime has occurred.  This way everyone will be happier.
  4. Pack some diapers and wipes in your backpack – I won’t forget the time I didn’t do this and my little boy had quite the blow out!  Ahhh!
  5. An extra outfit – like the above point, you never know when that messy diaper might strike! 

Wishing you happiness and wonderful memories hiking with children!

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