Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Select trail with interesting features for kids

Water always is a favorite sight along hiking
trails for children.
A hike of quiet reflection through the woods may sound great for an adult, but it’s a big bore to kids. They want to see things along the way – lakes and ponds, interesting rock formations, waterfalls, fire lookout towers, wild-flowers, streams, boulder fields, sweeping vistas, nature center, abandoned buildings (though you won’t go in them), fossils, stream crossings (only for older kids) and more. Water almost always is a winner with kids.

A trail with an intriguing history probably won’t mean much to kids until they’re at least in their late elementary school years. The concept of history is too abstract for most young children, who have a limited notion of time spanning a day let alone years.

When planning the hike, try to find a trail that has a midpoint payoff – that is something kids will find exciting about half-way through the hike. This will help keep kids’ energy and enthusiasm up during the journey.

Generally, kids will prefer a circular route to one that requires hiking back the way you came. The return trip often feels anti-climatic, but you can overcome that by mentioning features that all of you might want to take a closer look at.

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