Trail’ology: Hiking Was Fun…Until I Had Kids

As parents Al and I often think how easy it would be to plop our kiddos down in front of the TV rather than to make a conscious and deliberate effort to get them outside and on the trails.

So far in our trail’ology series we’ve discussed several obstacles to outdoor recreation. Today we’re talking about parenthood and being brutally honest about how sometimes our very own children (who we love to pieces) can keep us off the trails.

A few days ago we made a spontaneous road trip decision and detoured through Zion National Park at the tail end of our holiday travels. It was so spontaneous that we hiked in jeans and running shoes (gasp!!!) and didn’t even  have our beloved Piggyback Rider with us to haul around our 2 year old.

Tips for Hiking with Children

That didn’t matter, as we spent a day hiking as a family I really tried hard to look at the trail through my toddler’s perspective and put aside my my often impatient “hurry up” mentality. In doing so I realized that the key to making hiking enjoyable with my children is to remember that family hikes aren’t about me or even Al, they are about my kiddos.

Here’s what I learned:

Tips for Hiking with Kids play break new2 fuel distance hand wildlife

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think the fun part about hiking with children will actually be when they are in college (or hiker trash living in a van) and we can look back to our family hikes and laugh about some of the more amusing things (diaper blow outs, tears, absurd fears) that have happened on hikes. Because after all, if it were easy and always fun to hike with children we’d see more families out on the trails.

What do you think, hiking with kids is it always fun, sometimes fun or never fun? If you have kiddos of your own how do you make hikes fun?

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User Comments

  1. I’m glad my dad took me hiking when I was young, and that he was patient with my child’s pace. I never wanted to go on those adventures, but always enjoyed them while we were actually trekking. Those memories are valuable to me now.

    • Rebecca |

      It’s funny how a child’s attitude changes when they are on the trails, it goes from drudgery to fun within a matter of minutes. So glad your Dad helped provide those lasting memories!

  2. David |

    My wife, a teacher and outdoor educator, would often take our three young sons on “discovery” hikes in the summer. Lots of moaning and groaning to start, followed by much interest and enthusiasm when the lion kill, or whatever it was, came into view. Our biggest problem was usually the race to see who led the hike. My best advice to young parents: don’t read Beast in the Garden until the kids are grown. 🙂

    • Rebecca |

      Great Advice!!! I like that you mentioned “discovery” hikes, our 2 year old has had a lot of fun on winter hikes lately looking for “dinosaur” tracks (bootprints) in the snow. The imagination of a child is amazing!

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