7 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!
This last week we went hiking as part of our Memorial Day activities.  We live close to the mountains and there are a lot of canyons and hiking trails to choose from, so we are always finding fun new places to explore.  My kids especially love hiking and it is one of mine and my husband's favorite activities as well so we do a lot of it.  With this being the case, I've learned a few tips along the way that have helped make hiking a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

This post is sponsored by Nuby.  All opinions are 100% my own.  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

It's Not A Race
As we were walking along the trail with our kids this last week, they inevitably got side-tracked by different things: climbing on rocks, a flower, a stick.  My initial reaction was along the lines of: "C'mon, let's go!" but then I realized that the point of the hike wasn't about making it to our destination as much as it was about spending time together doing something we enjoy.  So if you go into your hike expecting that it will take longer, you can cut down on frustration at the so-called interruptions that are going to happen.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Bring Backpacks
This one has been a lifesaver for us when we go hiking.  I bought each of my kids a small backpack that we pack whenever we go on a hike.  Included in their packs is water and a couple of snacks to eat along the way.  They love having their own backpacks and I think it also helps them feel big and gives them a little bit more autonomy.  Even if your child says they will just carry their water or snacks in their hands or pockets, have them bring the pack because almost without fail they will want you to carry it for them or it will be put down and forgotten.  Here are a few good backpack options I found: HERE, HERE and HERE.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Create Teaching Moments
At one point in our hike, we stopped for a little snack break and the thought occurred to me to talk to my kids about littering.  I asked my daughter what we should do if we are out somewhere and there isn't a garbage can for us to put the wrappers or plastic bottles in.  She replied that we should put it back in our backpacks and then throw it away later.  Then we talked about why that was important (keep trails clean, showing respect, etc).  It was a really simple lesson and one of those things that makes a bigger impact when we are actually out in nature rather than trying to explain it at some other time.  A few other teaching moments you could incorporate into your hike could be talking about plants and animals in the area, how rivers/streams are made, bring a nature journal and collecting leaves/flowers.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Research the Hike
Anytime we go on a hike, I make sure to find some basic information about it: Does it have bathrooms at the trailhead or along the way?  How long is the hike?  Difficulty level?  Directions or landmarks for finding the trail?  Best time of year for hiking?  Stroller or wagon friendly?  The list goes on and what you want to know will obviously depend on your own family.  I recently found a really helpful website called AllTrails.com, where you can search by state and it will come up with a list of hikes and a helpful description of what you'll find.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Sunscreen, Wipes, Hand Sanitizer
Even if you put sunscreen on before you start the hike, odds are that you'll need it again at some point before you get back to your car.  There are plenty of travel size containers of sunscreen that there really isn't an excuse not to bring some.  Also, nature is dirty and kids seem to gravitate towards dirt so having something to wipe their hands off with is a good idea.  Just grab a travel size package of baby wipes and throw them in your bag.  And lastly, grab a small bottle of hand sanitizer to disinfect everyone's hands with before eating or after playing in the water (if your hiking to a waterfall or by a stream).

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Flip-Flops/Water Shoes/Extra Socks
I don't know about you, but after a long hike, all I want to do is take my shoes and socks off and let my feet breathe.  A lot of times, we will go out and get some food or stop by a store after our hike and it's nice to have the extra pair of shoes to change into.  Depending on the hike, we will bring water shoes so we can wade around in the water and cool off, plus they protect our feet from sharp rocks and give us traction.  Along with this, consider bringing an extra pair of socks.  The shoes I use when we go hiking double as water shoes, but I hate wearing them without socks, so I like to bring an extra pair that I can change into before we start back.  Same goes for your kids.  Throw the flip flops or water shoes or socks into their backpack and let them carry it.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
And last, but not least, bring lots and lots of WATER.  This is one of those things that you absolutely do not want to skimp on.  Who cares if you have to stop along the trail 10 times so your child can relieve themselves?  It's much better than the alternative.  Whether you're hiking when it's cloudy and cooler or hot and sunny, you need to keep yourself and your family hydrated and cool.  Little kids can overheat pretty easily so stopping and reminding everyone to get a good drink is essential.  Throw some ice cubes into everyone's bottle or cup or even freeze the whole water bottle for a refreshing and cool drink for your entire (or at least most) of your hike.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

We brought our kids' Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens with us on our hike and they were perfect.  The plastic is made of durable tritan from Eastman and the push top could be pushed down and covered by a plastic latch so it stayed clean.  The 12-oz size was perfect for our kids and how much they normally drink.  You can find these cups in store at Target and Babies R' Us.  (Shop the water canteens online HERE.


(For my local Utah friends, the hike in these pictures is Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove.)

What tips and tricks have you found helpful when you go hiking with your family?

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41 comments

  1. Fun post! I've taken my 3 year old on mini hikes. She is still at the age where she gets tired fast. I bring my carrier with me for that reason, but she still loves the adventure.

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  2. I have been meaning to look up hiking trails near my house, I think this is something fun for the whole family. Thanks for the tips!

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  3. Your post has so inspired me to take my kids on a hike! I'm not sure how my 2 year old would do, so we might need to keep this on our summer bucket list for next year, but I'm so excited to give it a try one day soon!

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  4. Great tips! Hiking is my fav! My kids are little, so we have to baby wear, but most of these things still apply for them too! Definitely the sunscreen!

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  5. You have beautiful scenery for hiking! I have tried to get my kids to be more excited about hiking, but where we live in North Texas is pretty flat and boring comparatively. Good tips!

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  6. These are such great tips Shani! Love the one about the backpack for your kids, that has definitely helped us out big time in the past!

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  7. Snacks are key for us. If we don't have snacks, forget it, chaos!!

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  8. Great tips! We're hoping to start hiking more with our daughter this summer.

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  9. Such a great post! We love going hiking with our 21 month old daughter. We have a hiking carrier for her and she loves it. Hydration is so important! We are headed to Colorado later this summer so these tips will be great for us!

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  10. Research is such a great tip. I find so many people don't look into what they're doing and then find themselves in trouble! thanks for sharing!

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  11. Great tips! I love hiking with my little guy. It's great for the whole family

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  12. Very helpful tips. I'm impressed at your little hikers! Gives me hope I could take my 3 year olds too. Thanks for all you share, friend!

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  13. Making sure you have plenty of stops along the way!! Pushing the kids too hard always makes the hike that much harder! we stop frequently a vistas and have a snack and a drink!

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  14. it so important to keep kids hydrated. thanks for this well written article

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  15. This would be perfect to take on a hike at the lake or off to the beach!

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  16. My daughter takes my grandson on these "treasure hunts" called geocaching. You can learn more about it here & the app that goes with it. It's great exercise & gets you out into nature, fresh air & a healthy goal setting. She has done over 100 in IL, IA, & Missouri. She always takes extra supplies & water with her when she goes especially bringing along a toddler. https://www.geocaching.com/play

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  17. I would take the Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteen to the zoo.

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  18. My boys are in day care all summer long & this would help keep them hydrated! :)

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  19. Always check your kids for ticks after walking in the woods

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  20. These look fab for our camping trips, beach, pool, park, car and school! Thanks for the fun chance!

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  21. I'd love these nuby water bottles for summer sports and road trips!

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  22. We haven't taken our girls "hiking" but we go on nature walks through our local parks. These would be very handy to keep them hydrated in this HOT Florida sun! ☀️

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  23. I would take it for our first park trip with my little one !

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  24. We take a backpack with snacks, drinks, sunscreen, and mosquito spray

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  25. Can't leave the house here in the desert without taking lots of water wherever we go.

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  26. We would use this for soccer and spending the summer days in the park. I do plan to take the kids on their first nature walk this summer though.

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  27. I would use our Nuby canteens for school and soccer. We don't really do a lot of hiking but we would use this water bottle if we did.

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  28. The Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex Water Canteens will be perfect for walks to the park and when we go camping this summer.

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  29. Can never stress hydration enough, especially summer months. Good article/tips

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  30. The most important thing that I we push upon is to keep hydrated. Thank you, for all of your great tips.

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  31. We camp a lot. Every kid would get their own canteen with a cute print!

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  32. Most helpful thing for us is to bring the toddler carrier so I can keep going when my LO gets tired. Also, HAND SANITIZER AND BABY WIPES...because their hands will go from their dirt to their face about every 3 minutes or less. I would love one of these canteens for my daughter to use during our hiking trips on our favorite trail. :)

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  33. Thanks for the tips on the article. I learned a lot.

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  34. I would take my kids hiking to find waterfalls.

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  35. Taking plenty of water and frequent water and rest breaks

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  36. Water, water...I can say it enough....I would take the Nuby cup everywhere.

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  37. Pack lots of snacks and water! And bring a camera!

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  38. We would take them along to the zoo, the park, playgrounds and school.

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  39. Last summer my husband decided he and the kids were going to do 15 hikes. He even had my mother-in-law sew up some cute badges to go with it! Love these NUBY canteens, they look great!

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