Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pre-hike checklist to ensure successful walk with kids

You’ll get more out of the day hike with children if you plan ahead. It’s not enough to just pull over to the side of the road and hit a trail that you’ve never been on and have no idea where it goes. In fact, doing so invites disaster.

Before leaving on any hike, plan out your trip:
g Print a road map showing how to reach the parking lot near the trailhead. Outline the route with a transparent yellow highlighter and write out the directions.
g Print a satellite photo of the parking area and the trail-head. Mark the trailhead on the photo.
g Print a topo map of the trail. Outline the trail with the yellow highlighter. Note interesting features you want to see along the trail and the destination.
g If carrying GPS, program this information into your device.
g Make a timeline for your trip, listing: when you will leave home; when you will arrive at the trailhead; your turn-back time; when you will return for home in your vehicle; when you will arrive at home.
g Estimate how much water and food you will need to bring based on the amount of time you plan to spend on the trail and in your vehicle. You’ll need at least 2 pints of water per person for every hour on the trail.
g Fill out two copies of a hiker’s safety form. Leave one in your vehicle.
g Share all of this information with a responsible person remaining in civilization, leaving a hiker’s safety form with them. If they do not hear from you within an hour of when you plan to leave the trail in your vehicle, they should contact authorities to report you as possibly lost.

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