Monday, December 10, 2012

Always research your day hike before heading out with kids

Do you really need to research my day hike with children?

Sure, pulling into a wayside and strolling a small loop that never loses sight of the parking lot is fine. But if going into the real wilds, you’ll get more out of the hike if you research it and 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. You need a map so you don’t get lost. You need to know about potential dangers ahead, such as water crossings, to avoid dangerous situations. You need to know if a trail is steep to avoid the disappointment of not reaching a cool destination simply because your children can’t traverse the path.

In addition, remember that not all kids are made alike. The five-year-old neighbor boy may have had no trouble with a specific trail, but your five-year-old may not like it or be able to handle it (There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way; we’re all different and develop at our own rates). You can get a good sense as to whether or not the trial is right for your child by researching it beyond your neighbor’s anecdotal evidence.

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