Hiking is a great outdoor activity that parents and children can enjoy together. It’s also a good way for kids to learn about nature and the environment and maybe some wildlife too, if you can coax the kids into an early start.
Of course, you might have to do a bit of coaxing to get the kids to go hiking, at all! Our three children encompass the entire spectrum of motivation, when it comes to hiking. Our oldest daughter (8) actually bugs us to go hiking, while her younger sister (7) would never go hiking, if it were up to her. It’s too soon to tell which side our son’s (4) motivation will fall on.
Hiking with kids goes a lot smoother when there is some kind of destination, such as a waterfall or a lake, instead of just an out-and-back loop. At least for our younger ones, telling them that we’re “going to the waterfall” gets them a lot more motivated than telling them that we’re just going for a hike.
To date, our kids have been hiking in their regular clothes, which have worked just fine. Our oldest daughter is starting to do three or four miles with me, though, which is starting to justify some better, more breathable, clothing. Buying specialty clothing for kids is always expensive, since they grow so fast, but in this case it’s justified. When kids are just learning to enjoy hiking, the last thing that you want to happen is a bad experience from chaffing against damp clothing.
From a cost standpoint, though, hiking is relatively low-cost compared to other outdoor sports. A child can be up and hiking for the cost of a water bottle and maybe some new socks or shorts. All of our kids hike in their regular tennis shoes, which seems to work just fine.
Hiking is a great way to introduce your children to the outdoors and develop their curiosity about nature and wildlife.