Though most of the terrain you’ll cross with walking kids will be fairly flat, as they age you’ll start tackling rougher country. In addition, if carrying an infant or toddler in a carrier, there’s no need to limit yourself to flat trails, so long as you know how to traverse slopes, scree and other hindrances. Not knowing how to cross such ground can cause you and your children to fall.
The more you and your kids hike, the easier traversing difficult terrain will become. After a while, it’ll become second nature.
Some difficult terrain you may encounter includes:
g Up a slope - When heading up an incline, slow your pace, take short steps, and keep body upright. This will ensure you keep your balance.
g Down a slope - Ironically, going down a slope can be as exhausting as going up one, particularly on a steep trail. Don’t let gravity take you down too fast or you’ll slip; at best, your feet, ankles and knees will ache by the time you reach bottom. Your trekking pole really can help you stay upright when going downhill. You can maximize your trekking pole’s effectiveness by holding it securely with your arms bent at the elbow in a 90 degrees angle in front of you. In addition, test each stone with your pole before stepping on it.
g Scree - Scree is small, loose rock often found on slopes, especially in mountainous areas. It can slide beneath your step, causing you to slip, which in turn can cut up your hands as the rocks often are sharp. Walk across scree by stepping sideways so the long side of your feet have more contact with the slope. If climbing up a slope with scree, take small steps with your feet spread-eagled or splayed. This puts your weight on each boot’s instep, reducing both strain on your legs and the odds of slipping.
Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.