Tips for Hiking with Kids

Hiking as a family is one of our favourite things to do. We’ve obviously had to think about other things that we previously didn’t need to worry about before having kids though, like making sure we have enough water and snacks on hands for hungry little tummies. We all love hiking though and following these tips will help ensure you have a fun time hiking with your little ones as well.

Mom is in the child's backpack.

Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club/vetal1983

  • Set Realistic Goals. A 4 year old will not be able to hike the same distance as a 30 year old, so keep this in mind when planning a hike. Start slowly and you can work your way up to longer hikes over time.
  • Bring Water – Lots of it. Fill up water bottles for everyone. We normally bring one adult-sized backpack and my 4 year old likes to bring his own sometimes too. We put our bottles in the backpack. We love Klean Kanteens and they have great kid-sized bottles as well.
  • Pack Healthy Snacks. We bring along energy balls or bars, like these nutty chocolate energy bars, as well as apples to stop and snack on halfway through. If we know we’re going for longer, we’ll also pack a simple, travel-friendly lunch like sandwiches, carrots and cucumber slices.
  • Take Breaks. Small children especially will need more breaks. Try to find fun logs or areas to take breaks on so you can also explore and talk about the scenery around you.
  • Play Games. Make hiking fun by playing games as you go along, such as I Spy, looking for animal tracks, or bird watching. You can also try to make it a nature scavenger hunt, finding items in the forest around you.
  • Wear the Right Gear. Everyone should have a good pair of shoes or boots that are suitable for hiking. Try wearing long pants if you’re in a heavily wooded area. Bring hats, sunscreen and warmer layers in case anyone gets chilly.
  • Bring a First Aid Kit. This one is key especially if you’re in a more remote area or going on a really long hike. Band aids, tweezers, an antiseptic and gauze are a few good items to keep in there.
  • Pick a Leader. Choose the hike leader ahead of time. If you have young kids in tow, an adult should definitely be heading up the pack. You can let the kids lead for a bit if the route is easy and they are familiar with it. If the kids are older, think about switching up the leaders part-way through so that everyone gets a turn.
  • Invest in a Good Carrier. If you are hiking with a baby or small toddler, it’s a good idea to have a good carrier. There are specific hiking carriers (MEC has awesome ones) but even a good ergonomic baby carrier is a good idea and will enable you to bring the baby along as well, or wear the smaller child if he or she gets too tired.
  • Leave no Trace. This is an important one to model. Bring back any garbage or items with you. Leave nothing but footprints and teach your children to do the same.
  • Have Fun!

Autumn family hiking
Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club/Nikola Solev

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Megan Powell is the mom of two – a wildly imaginative preschooler and a baby girl – as well as a writer, editor and blogger. She writes about healthy, eco-friendly, natural family living on her blog HEN Family (, sharing information, tips and products with her readers, and also contributes to other publications on various topics.

9 responses to “Tips for Hiking with Kids”

  1. I love taking the grandkids for walks and always have a bag full of treat for them!

  2. Love hiking, but def different with kids. Im scared of running into bears or moose this time of year!

  3. great tips/reminders!! We adore our walks and hikes in the Niagara Region!

  4. The right carrier makes all the difference; especially one that can be adjusted and breathes. Thank you for the tips!

  5. I really like Megan’s tips on going hiking with little ones. They are sensible and down to earth. I think it is wonderful to take children along at a young age. When my children were small, I would take them on hikes to the back of our farm and we would enjoy everything about us. I think it gives them an affinity with Nature.

  6. I use to love hiking when I was younger

  7. Great tips, thanks for sharing. It really is important to check the weather too before setting off – it’s no fun for kids if a thunderstorm is forecast, the right clothing and shoes are vital too.

  8. Great tips! We find that geocaching helps motivate them to go further on hikes

  9. When i was younger before MS i love to take a walk into nature,seeing the wildlife and taking in the sweet smells of the forest can be amazing !

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