Hit the Trails with the Whole Family

(This guest post is authored by Melissa Daruna of Get Outdoors Colorado)

Fall is a great time to get out and explore the trails. There is often a lot of wildlife to be seen, amazing fall colors on the leaves, and comfortable, cooler temperatures. Before you blaze ahead, check out these 5 tips for fun, safe family hiking:
  1. Know Your Goals & Give In A Little – As the American Hiking Society puts it – hiking with kids is more about the experience and journey than getting from point A to point B.  Let your kids explore and have fun. While you may have a timeframe in mind, be flexible on how far you get and even when you start and end. The point is for your kids to have fun and enjoy their time outdoors. Allowing your kids some control goes a long way to develop their interest in the trails. Let them pick the location, or even just exploring the map together will give them some input in the adventure!
  2. Play Can Also Be Learning – Teach your kids trail etiquette, create scavenger hunts or other simple games to keep them engaged while moving. Bringing field guides to help identify plants and animals is also a great way to make sure they leave with something without taking anything out of nature.
  3. Layer It On!Dress in layers and be aware of your child’s body temperature. Really active kids may not realize how cold their skin actually is.  If you are carrying your child, you may be warm while he or she is not. Layers are a great way to stay comfortable and safe. Dressing kids in bright colors helps you keep track of them if they are likely to run ahead. Always bring a rain layer and warm layer you can remove or add if needed. Hats and gloves are small and easy to pack and can make a world of difference between a happy comfortable kid and one who just wants to go home.
  4. Fuel Their Fire – Pack water and small, healthy snacks to have along the way. For older kids, having their own pack with these essentials can add to the excitement of the experience. Teach your kids about proper fuel for their body, packing out their trash, and only drinking properly filtered water.
  5. Safety and Stewardship –Sunscreen and a safety whistle are important to include in each kids pack, if they are carrying one. Have a plan of what to do if your kids get separated from you and go over that plan before every hike.