Hiking With Kids - A Survival Guide

Welcome to the jungle, folks! Well, okay, maybe not the jungle, but close enough. The great outdoors! Where the trees tower above and the trails wind like a choose your own adventure book. For most groups hiking is a fairly straight forward process. Plan out how long it will take, what supplies you need, and go. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Today we are talking about the outlier group. The group that experiences the ultimate test of patience, persistence, and endurance. The modern day equivalent of crossing the Sahara on foot.

The Family Hike

Yes, that's right. We’re talking about how to keep those tiny humans who possess boundless energy and an uncanny knack for saying, "I’m tired" five minutes into the hike engaged and having fun. So strap on your boots because we're diving headfirst into the wilderness with snacks, water bottles, and some little adventurers in tow.

Snacks: The Fuel that Powers the Expedition.

Picture this: You're trekking down the trail, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, it’s a perfect hike. Then suddenly, you hear it. No, not the call of the wild, the faint(at first) call of a hungry child. Caught unprepared, this adventure will go sideways faster than a cheetah at full sprint. There is one, and only one, way out of the coming hunger induced meltdown: snacks.

A word of caution, neat and tidy snacks that require silverware, condiments, or plates is not the route to go here. On the family hike, you must embrace the chaos and pack accordingly. Think granola bars, fruit, and enough trail mix to feed a small army. And remember, sharing is caring, so be prepared to dole out snacks like a benevolent trailside monarch.

Water: The Elixir of Life

Ah, water. The nectar of the gods, and the ultimate weapon against dehydration-induced drama. On the family hike, water is your best friend and most valuable ally. But be warned: water bottles have a sneaky habit of disappearing into the abyss of backpacks, never to be seen again, or being “accidently” emptied on the head of a sibling. So, arm yourself with a veritable arsenal of H2O and prepare for battle.

The biggest key to success is to have back ups. If your kids are old enough to have their own pack, have them carrying their main water bottle, but ALWAYS have a back up that can be used as a refill for the family. And remember, hydration is key, so don't be afraid to channel your inner water sommelier with reminders for your junior adventures to drink during the hike.

Entertainment: Batteries Not Included

In a world of screens, an escape to the woods is a wonderful respite from the constant “go, go, go” of busy family life. Kids undoubtedly benefit from being outside and family time bonding of a hike is hard to beat. But, be ready with some games, because while your kids may appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature, at some point they will probably get bored of “just walking”. Scavenger hunts, breaks where they can run around and explore a bit, and even the occasional bit of muddy mayhem, are all your allies here. And not having a super strict timeline, path, distance, or tasks can make the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone. Essentially, let he kids be kids(safely of course).  

Carrying Them: The Ultimate Workout (and Comedy Show)

Now, let's address the elephant in the room: carrying kids on a hike. For truly young children, a pack with a seat for them is a simple enough solution. But, once your kid outgrown them, there will inevitably come a time when you find yourself playing the role of pack mule because they're hot(or cold), bored, or simply convinced that they are incapable of taking another step. But fear not, for this is not a burden, but rather an opportunity family comedic gold.

There's something undeniably hilarious about watching an adult trudge up a mountain with a child clinging to their back like a particularly stubborn koala or perched on their shoulders as a live action Tiki totem. Who cares that you have video evidence of your child being able to bounce on a trampoline for 4 hours straight, or run laps around the backyard with the dog all afternoon. Embrace the absurdity, and let the laughter fuel your ascent. And who knows, you might even earn yourself a few extra snacks as a reward for your valiant efforts.

So, lace up those hiking boots, pack your provisions, and set out on your journey. And remember to leave a little room for some chaos and perhaps a few muddy misadventures along the way. The joy of the family hike Happy trails, fellow hikers. May your snacks be plentiful and your water bottles never run dry!


The Mountain and Isles Team