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Tips for Hiking with Kids

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Pack snacks and water.

My kids actually get excited to carry their own water (and will drink more) when it’s in Camelbak packs on their backs or when they carry their own stash of snacks and a drink in their backpacks.

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Take a photo of the map before you set out on the trail.

This has saved me more than once when I hit a fork in the road and wondered which hike would be shorter, shadier, or lead to a creek for playing in.

Be prepared to turn around.

For one, remember you have to walk back! For hikers (like myself) who want to see the entire trail, this is a hard rule to follow. But I’ve learned that if I can instill a love of hiking in my kids, we’ll go on more hikes in the long run. And over the years, as their legs get longer, so do our hikes.

Stop. Take breaks. Wonder. Play.

This is why you're out there, really, and I’ve found it’s at these points in the hikes that memories are formed.

Take friends.

Nothing makes a hike better than a good set of friends.

Wear hats and pack sunscreen.

Even if the day starts out cloudy, be prepared for that Texas sun.

Have a towel and change of clothes and shoes in the car.

Then you won’t be worried at all when your crew happens upon a big, deliciously tempting spot of water, sand, mud, or dirt.

Rewards for long hikes are a great motivation.

Yes, this is somewhat like bribery. And yes, the hike should be the reward. But I remember climbing Enchanted Rock when I was a kid because my dad told me there was a lemonade and cookie stand at the top. It was a strong motivator. If only the reward had been real, it would have been much better. (Interestingly, a generation later, when he took the grandkids, they did find real cookies.) So take a bag of special snacks for the midway point, or treat yourself to ice cream on the way home after a long, hot hike. Positive reinforcement goes a long way – generations even.

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If you're throwing camping into the mix, here's a handy camping checklist: http://www.exploringaustinwithkids.com/News/Entry/Camping_Checklist


 

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