Sunday, February 26, 2012

Keep in mind local weather, seasons when selecting day hiking trail for children

When selecting a place to day hike with children, always check to see what the weather will be like on the trail. While an adult might be able to withstand wind and a sprinkle here or there, for children it can be pure misery. Dry, pleasantly warm days with limited wind always are best when hiking with children. That eliminates some climates during specific seasons; deserts, for example, are verboten in summer as are high mountains in winter.

The age of your child also matters. Generally, older teens will be able to handle inclement weather better that younger children. Cold weather is a no-no for infants.

That being said, hiking in winter is quite popular in Northern states and mountain areas where outdoor activities are common year around. Not being able to hike in winter would limit the activity to a few months out of the year. Winter hiking has its advantages, as well, such as no bugs and smaller (and often no) crowds. It also is more of a challenge and arguably requires more preparation than a summer hike.

Consider what the trail will be like as well. If it’s open, as would be one in the desert or a meadow, you can expect a lot of sun and probably wind. The sunshine may be just fine on cooler days. During the hot days of summer, though, look for tree-lined, shaded trails.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.