This weekend, we kicked off our quest to complete The Land of Nod’s list of 100 Things to Do This Summer. It’s a big list with lots of fun activities, like making ice cream, completing a service project and visiting a farm. Today we completed #20 on the list with a five mile hike at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, which is 35 minutes from my home.
I took my girls, Clare and Kate (ages 8 and 7), and we had a fun time, but I definitely learned a lot about hiking with kids. So, without further adieu, check out my quick tips for hiking with school-age children.
Expect a More Difficult Hike. I recently downloaded the free AllTrails app to my iPhone to find a trail close to home. I picked this trail at Hemlock Overlook because the app said it would be “easy.” When we saw the map at the trailhead, however, all of the trails were listed as “moderate.” We also couldn’t find the exact loop trail. So it was a little more challenging than expected, but it was still a fun morning.
Keep Your Eyes Open. I wasn’t specifically looking for animals, but I did have my eyes open. We spotted a heron in the water, two box turtles, three toads and an orange salamander-type creature. Seeing the animals up-close was definitely my girls’ favorite part of the morning hike.
Wear Shoes You Don’t Mind Getting Muddy. I had my girls wear their old sneakers, but silly me, I wore my running shoes, which are now quite muddy. It was a beautiful sunny day when we left the house, but I forgot it rained overnight, and some of the trail was muddy and slippery.
Gauge the Fatigue Factor. On our hike this morning we walked 2.5 miles out and then 2.5 miles back. This was a first hike for my seven-year-old who is not quite as active as her older sister and I mis-judged how tired she was by about a mile. If I’d turned around at the two-mile-mark it would have been better for her.
Keep Your Hands Free. Since there were a few slippery patches, it was best for all of us to keep our hands free as we walked. No need to have anyone fall and get hurt. It was also helpful to keep my hands free to hold my seven-year-old’s hand to help her make it through a few tenuous areas along the trail.
Don’t Forget Bug Spray & Sun Block. The bugs weren’t bad, and most of the hike was shady, but I did bring along the bug spray and sun block in a backpack just in case. You know we would have needed them for sure if I had left them in the car. Try to go eco-friendly if you can.
Track Your Distance. I used the Nike+ GPS app for my iPhone to track our distance and our pace. It also tracks your time on the trail, so it was helpful to know how long we had been gone and at what point we should turn around. Pairing this information with how my girls did on the hike will be helpful when planning our next hike.
Do you like to hike with your kids? Do you have tips I can use when I go to plan our next hike (which may be as soon as next weekend!)? Let me know in the comments section below.