Monday, August 27, 2012

Day hiking with kids may require adult attitude adjustment

Hiking with children requires patience,
as they like to stop and explore.
To enjoy hiking with kids, you’ll first have to adopt your child’s perspective. Simply put, we must learn to hike on our kids’ schedules – even though they may not know that’s what we’re doing.

Compared to adults, kids can’t walk as far, they can’t walk as fast, and they will grow bored more quickly. Every step we take requires three for them. In addition, early walkers, up to two years of age, prefer to wander rather than “hike.” Preschool kids will start to walk the trail, but at a rate of only about a mile per hour. With stops, that can turn a three-mile hike into a four-hour journey. Kids also won’t be able to hike as steep of trails as you or handle as inclement of weather as you might.

This all may sound limiting, especially to long-time backpackers used to racking up miles or bagging peaks on their hikes, but it’s really not. While you may have to put off some backcountry and mountain climbing trips for a while, it also opens up to you a number of great short trails and nature hikes with spectacular sights that you may have otherwise skipped because they weren’t challenging enough.

So sure, you’ll have to make some compromises, but the payout is high. You’re not personally on the hike to get a workout but to spend quality time with your children.

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