Motherhood

5 Tips for Hiking With Kids

5 Tips for Hiking With Kids

Whenever we go on a long walk, my city kids start hanging off my arms and begging for snacks. So, I was entranced by my friend Erin Jang (of Trader Joe’s and movie night fame) taking a family hiking trip to Switzerland, where they clocked six to eight miles every day. Here, she shares how to get young kids excited about hiking (please add your tips below!)…

Erin and her husband, Abe, both grew up in Seattle, loving the outdoors. Now, living in New York City, they find it harder to spend time in nature, so they try to save up for an outdoorsy trip every year, when possible. “Recently, our seven-year-old has surprised us with his enthusiasm on short hikes, and we’re realizing that our three-year-old won’t comfortably fit into our backpack carrier much longer, so we decided to take the plunge this summer.” They headed to the Swiss Alps, something Erin and Abe had dreamed of for years.

Although the family hiked on their own, they got help planning the four-day hike from Ryder-Walker Adventures. The company’s “self-guided” option provides a printed itinerary with maps and trails tailored to your level of difficulty. Erin’s family stayed in hotels and hostels in the four towns they hiked between (Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren, Interlaken). They arranged for their stroller and luggage to be transferred between each inn.

Here are Erin’s five tips for getting kids excited about hiking:

1. Let them lead.
We had our oldest walk ahead and “guide” us the entire trip. Whenever our three-year-old was up for walking, we let him have a turn leading, too (even if it meant a much slower pace for all!); he was so proud of himself and it made him complain less and hike with gusto. We kept hearing his little voice with this pep talk on loop, “I can do it! I am really good at hiking!”

2. Prepare the right stuff.
Because the weather can change suddenly (we had a forecast for rain the whole time we were there), it was necessary to have comfortable waterproof shoes, waterproof jackets and pants, trekking poles to help climb a steep rocky stretch, and breathable layers and sun hats. I’ve found that much of the complaining with kids (and adults) comes with discomfort from not preparing appropriately (it’s hard to enjoy a hike when you’re cold and wet or burning in the sun), so managing that part made a big difference.

3. All the treats.
We brought special treats to motivate the kids on difficult parts of the hike. We’d often point to a tree or the next trail marker far ahead, and promise a gummy or hard candy if they raced up to the top. Or we’d surprise them by busting out a Capri-Sun after a particularly tiring stretch or lemonade powder to shake up in our water bottles. We let them each pick out one special snack or bag of chips at the supermarket in town each night, to look forward to on the trail the next day.

4. Games!
When I felt the kids were about to sigh, “Are we almost therrreeeee…,” it helped to distract them with something fun. We played a bajillion rounds of 20 Questions, which never got old! We looked for things along our walk that resembled letters of the alphabet. I taught them as many songs from The Sound of Music as I could remember. I had the boys look for every variety of wildflower they could see.

5. Make the enthusiasm contagious.
We hope our love for nature rubs off on our children. I often think about something that Mr. Rogers said, about how attitudes are caught, not taught: “Love what you do in front of the child. Let them catch the attitude that that’s fun.” They see how our faces light up on the trail, surrounded by so much green; how we cherish the quiet; how we experience genuine awe when we turn a corner to find a new vista. I also see how they look to see our reaction when stuff goes “wrong,” when it starts pouring rain or we take a bad turn and get lost. I’ve had to catch myself in those stressful moments and remember (and remind them!) how cool and special it really is to walk through a forest in the pouring rain.

Plus, a bonus in Switzerland: Playgrounds! Every mountain village they stayed in had a small playground in the center of town. “It was a welcome bonus for the kids, after a long day,” says Erin. “Once, we heard children’s laughter in the woods, so we followed the trail to discover a seesaw, zipline, technicolor slide and zigzag of balance beams. I love how the Swiss really reward children for hiking.”

Would Erin recommend a hiking trip to other families? “Absolutely!” she says. “We loved the chance to spend entire days together as a family with only nature, and each other, to keep us occupied.”

Thoughts? Do you hike with kids? What other tips do you have?

P.S. The world’s coolest playgrounds, 16 ways to traveling with kids, and parenting in Sweden, France and Italy.

  1. Rue says...

    My tips as a professional field geologist!

    1) your local public library may have state park passes that you can borrow, so you don’t have to pay entrance fees.
    2) “nature collection” is a game where you encourage kids to spot interesting or beautiful things on the trail. you can keep a list on your phone or in a little pocket sized notebook. bonus points if your kid can compare lists from different locations on a trip, and see what’s similar or different. (This is, like, exactly what I do as a professional scientist, so all the points to your kid for doing this!)
    3) please *don’t* make cairns or pile stones or pick flowers and leaves from the trail. teach your kids to enjoy and appreciate and respect wilderness using all their senses, but to also leave it the way they found it. your kid can run/jump/play/touch where appropriate, just don’t take or disrupt.

  2. Kim says...

    I love this post. Thank you for sharing. I want to be a better hiker now (with or without kids).

  3. Anna says...

    My boyfriend’s family is from that part of Switzerland. When we go there around Christmas, I always look forward to our hikes in the snow. (Along mountain roads and paths)

  4. Young Directionless says...

    When my husband’s step sister was eight we used to get her interested in hiking by talking about it not as hiking but “frolicking through a meadow.” It only worked until she was around 10 or 11, but reframing it to make it fun and focus on something cool like a skipping through a meadow got her really enthused.

  5. Kristin says...

    Awesome post. Letting them lead is brilliant! I love what Mr. Rogers said, “…attitude is caught, not taught..” It’s Everyday. Thank you for posting this.

  6. SuzieQ says...

    Love this topic! A few tips from an avid hiking mama:
    1. Hike with your baby in a chest carrier as much as possible. Infant brains can habituate to being outdoors regularly. Kids exposed to nature at an early age feel comfortable outside later.
    2. Take up nature journaling (google videos with your kiddos for inspiration). One journal for every hiker, adults included. Stop for watercolor breaks. The mini watercolor sets are magical.
    3. Try to walk with toddlers and school kids outdoors most days in real life — school is ideal. You’re subtly building their endurance for longer hikes.
    4. If it works for your family budget, buy a national parks passport and stamp it for each park you visit. If not, make a local checklist of goal hikes (scary hikes, water life, wildlife to see, etc).
    5. Break out the iPhone for bored toddlers in carriers on long hikes. Laugh off any judgment. Your family is outside, exercising, and together.
    6. Develop signature hikes, and take pictures in the same spot every year. The waterfall hike near grandma’s house can become a much-anticipated annual pilgrimage.
    7. Build cairns, touch every heart shaped rock, play the alphabet game, talk about wildlife, be quiet, bribe, and rest on the side of the trail to take in the view as other hikers pass. For once, there is no pressure, expectation, or goal – just enjoy the journey!

    • Amy says...

      Love your idea about nature journaling. Our kiddos are just getting to the age where that is something they’re getting into. And so right about brushing off other people’s judgement. If tech gets you all through, by all means do it!

  7. Amazing article. Keep going!!

  8. Veronica says...

    ignore them when they moan and groan. their memory of it will be more powerful than their immediate distaste. push ahead. it’s worth it.

  9. Siobhan says...

    Love this! I’ve been reading your blog for many years and it is truly the highlight of my relationship with the internet, so thank you.
    My husband and I live in beautiful Vermont with our two daughters who are 3.5 and almost 5 (and a third on the way) and we hike with them as much as possible. My husband came up with the brilliant idea of “chocolate stops.” Every now and then he says he heard a bird or gnome or fairy tell him there’s a “chocolate stop” at rock/tree/stump ahead. Often he’ll even make a rhyme out of it, like, “if you want something good, take a look in your hood”, and he’ll sneak a chocolate into the hoods of their sweatshirts. It makes the hikes feel magical and the chocolate keeps them going (and his creativity reminds me why I fell in love with him).

    • Holly says...

      “The highlight of my relationship with the internet”

      YES! totally agree with this. :-) CoJ is the first thing I read in the mornings. Always something great here. Thanks Jo & Co!

    • Julie says...

      I thought we’d invented the “chocolate tree!” We do the same with our 4 & 6 y/o…also in VT! See you on the trails!

  10. CeeBee says...

    We call our hikes “ adventures.” Kids: What are we doing this weekend? Us: Going on an adventure! They cannot resist whatever is about to happen :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such good parenting/marketing! ;)

    • Marie says...

      I was hiking with my brother-in-law in Bath awhile ago and he had those British chocolate coins in the gold wrapping. When his daughters started to slow down or start to complain on our hikes he would take a gold chocolate coin out of his pocket (and when the girls weren’t looking) he would toss it high in the air way out in front of them and say “look! Chocolate falling from the sky” …they would go running really fast ahead to fetch the surprise. They thought it was magical….this was great for the adults who wanted to keep marching forward and exciting for the girls at the same time. I thought he was genius!

  11. Seraphim says...

    Our family spends a lot of time tent camping and hiking in the Eastern Sierras. A huge turning point with the hiking happened when our daughter was 5 years old. My husband wanted to try a difficult hike, but I had reservations due to my daughter’s age. We went for it and chose a trail with steep vertical climbs, multiple water crossings, rock slopes, etc… round trip it totaled 5 hard miles… and to my amazement, our daughter loved it. No whining, no asking to be carried, no melt downs. Our daughter knew it was hard, that mom and dad were juggling her brother in a carrier, day packs, keeping track of our dog, and that she had to be independent. There was something about the challenge that made her rally, and she still remembers it (now 8) as a great adventure. I think it worked specifically because the hike was so hard – the potential risk made it fun and interesting to her… afterwards, we let her pick out a patch to commemorate the day. Since then, there have been multiple requests from her for long, hard hikes, and our son (now 5) just did his first ‘big’ hike and got his patch, which he proudly carried around for days. I think our instinct as parents is to make things easier for our kids, but sometimes the most growth occurs (for all of us) when things are hard.

    • Magdalena says...

      I had the same impression when hiking with my kids. The more difficult and challenging the route, the more satisfied the kids are.
      For our family the worst are long stretches of easy gravel/all-too-well-maintained path.

      so don’t be afraid of difficult trails people!

      We hike with 6 and 3yo

  12. Tess says...

    I LOVE this!! My family is big on hiking, and from about ages 4 and 6 my brother and I were hiking in the Alps with our parents for days at a time. All of these tips were spot on, I would add for fun games we used to play “which way is north?” every time we stopped (have each person point at the count of three, and then compare it to a compass), “describe your dream meal” was also a favorite (we are such food lovers), and learning all the lyrics to any song my parents could come up with. Plus, dark chocolate at some of our stops as a pick-me-up! The biggest thing was turning disasters into hilarious family stories- like the time we got caught in a gigantic thunderstorm halfway down the mountain!

  13. Jackie says...

    I really appreciate her point about demonstrating the things you love to your children. I love my job, but it’s also really demanding and stressful. At this point, I realize that I may not demonstrate the positives – that I am helping people, that I am competent and creative, that I like to succeed (and overcome the failures / challenges) – because I am so IN IT, frankly just trying to survive most times, and not packaging every situation for their consumption. Sigh! Another pressure on working moms. But at the same time, I know this is important. Would love others’ insight into this.

    • Hannah says...

      My husband and I started a business about 2 years ago and there have been many, many moments where I’ve stress-cried in front of my kids about something seemingly unrelated. But between our business, my job and our home life a pair of socks left on the floor CAN send me over the edge! Of course my kids take notice of this and I used to be afraid of appearing unstable. After all, I want to model happy excited engagement and childish wonder a la Mr Rogers! But I decided to cut myself a break and now I just level with them. I tell them, “life is hard, but we get through it together”. We’re all doing the best we can!

  14. Meghan Schott says...

    My 4 year son old hikes with us often. We never set out with a predetermined amount of miles we are going to accomplish with him. We just go with the flow. Sometimes he will hike for hours and sometimes it is like 15 minutes. We take what we can get and always turn around when he is ready! This way he doesn’t burn out on it.
    Things that motivate him are pretending dinosaurs are chasing us and “searching for big foot”. We pack snacks and tiny toys and be prepared to stop to picnic and play often.
    If I am extra prepared I take those plastic easter eggs and fill them with small snacks and fill my backpack with them. I lay them along the trail when he is not looking so he can search for “dino eggs” as we walk!

    • Amy says...

      Dinosaur eggs. BRILLIANT 🦕

  15. Katherine says...

    Oh I love this post! What a dream trip!

  16. Annie says...

    My husband (and baby girl) is Swiss, and we do a hiking vacation every year. This year was Zermatt, last year was Pontresina and the Engadine Valley, and the year before was Wengen and the Bernese-Oberland. We’ve also spent a lot of time in the Lake Lucerne region and Andermatt, Arosa/Lenzerheide, Melchsee-Frutt, the Lake Geneva region, the Italian part, and more. I think I’ve been 30 times now. Switzerland is so magical. The playgrounds are THE BEST. Thanks for featuring my favorite country!

  17. My husband and I just finished our first trimester with our first pregnancy, and reading stories about Erin and her family maintaining their habits and cultivating a sense of adventure in their young children is incredibly encouraging! Anticipating the change to our lives has been overwhelming to say the least, and I’ve had to fight the feeling that life is over, and that all the adventures on my list are on hold forever. Thank you for sharing stories of parents who bring their babies with them! And Erin’s reminder from Mr. Rogers is just what I needed to hear this morning(o:

    • I heard a great tip about not struggling to continue to be your pre-baby self, you need to acknowledge that you and your life are different. To try to hold on to the impossibility of continuing the same life creates stress and worry over something you cannot change (and will not want to change). My husband and I struggled with this for the first year of PPD and the hardest stretch of our life, but after accepting that we were able to enjoy all the room for a new life which was otherwise occupied with mourning the old. This is not to say you can’t do the things you love, in fact, for me, with limited time I found myself really going for the things I only talked about. I made a painting studio in our spare room when our baby was newborn, and we started things we only ever daydreamed about, woodworking, spoon carving, bushcraft and camping. Now that time was more in demand we found ourselves really making it worth it. Letting go of the life we had before was such a weight off my shoulders. We’re meant to evolve, and it’s always for the better. I now get to stay home and make a living selling art and wooden wares, it’s something I only dreamed out before! Also, I always was weary of wanting to do a bunch of stuff that w/o the baby, but the truth is, you kind of just want to take them with you. They make everything magical and let you relive your childhood. It’s awesome! (And this is coming from someone who was NOT a baby person, haha)

  18. I loved reading this post as we too recently did a hiking-focused trip in the same part of Switzerland with our kids (age 6 and 9) I highly recommend the website Swiss Family Fun, formerly Moms Tots Zurich, if you are considering a family trip.

    With the wonders of Swiss engineering, you can almost always take a train, cable car, or funicular up the mountain and then (mostly) hike down. Plus, the transit often intersects the trails at various points, so you have options to ‘tap out’ early if the weather is poor or your crew just isn’t feeling it.

    Combine this with playgrounds, the mountain “hut” oasis’ and Swiss chocolate, and you have an unbeatable combination for exploring the outdoors as a family. “Infinity thumbs up!” as my son declared.

    • Monica says...

      Thank you for the SFR website reco, Alison! Was mulling over where to start investigating Switzerland and you’ve given me the perfect rabbit hole!

  19. Lauren says...

    I live in Switzerland, and the longer I live here, the more I fall in love with hiking. There is so much to explore at every turn, and even on trails which I (with a fear of heights) struggle a bit on, it’s rare I don’t see little kids out on the trail. Also, I’m fully in support of treats to get you through!

    For those visiting or living out this way, would highly recommend Swiss Family Fun ( https://swissfamilyfun.com/ ) for hike tips. Tanya and her family are American and have been here for upwards of 10 years, and they are avid hikers. She gives tips about each trail – particularly considering what level/age kids should be to tackle it (or if stroller-friendly, etc)! It’s an invaluable resource!

  20. Taryn says...

    We live in Colorado, and hike a lot with our two girls, now ages 6 and 3. We went on a lot of hikes this summer, and my friend turned me on to “hiking necklaces.” The morning of the hikes, the girls got to make necklaces out of string and food with holes in them–Cheerios, mini pretzels, yogurt covered pretzels, bagel chips, etc. They were proud of their necklaces, and the rule was “you don’t have to ask Mom or Dad to eat some of your necklace–you get to decide when have a snack!” That freedom was a huge hit, and kept them entertained for a long time. Nothing better than seeing your kids out in the woods having a blast.

    • Marcelle says...

      I love this!

  21. Jessi says...

    I did a 4 night hike with my 6 year old on the west coast of Vancouver Island this summer. He carried his own pack with sleeping bag and clothes and was an absolute delight as a hiking partner. The beautiful thing about just the two of us hiking was how easy it was to truly slow down and enjoy the trip at his pace. Gummy candies of course and a gps watch that kept track of the kilometres (the beep every km was cause for a mini celebration)
    We also geocache and when energy is starting to fade my secret weapon is to pull out the app and check for a cache – it’s amazing how he’ll pick up the pace when he knows there could be treasures ahead.

  22. Rachel Yakar says...

    Practice, practice, practice. We live near alpine lakes and hike behind our house weekly. I highly recommend “hiking pills” (jelly beans) along the way. It builds activity tolerance….I promise! My 7 year old can easily walk for 10 miles, and my 3 year old always has tantrums, which we just wait for the end and continue onward to our destination, usually a swimming hole or waterfall. But now I want to take them to Switzerland.

  23. Becca Lloyd says...

    We hike almost weekly with our kids in every season and have for years and here is my best tip (given to my by a wonderful mother of 7 hiking-loving children):
    When a little hiker starts complaining, start planning their birthday party and halloween costume together. There is no end to this fascinating conversation and the miles fly by!

  24. Alice says...

    As a kid I hiked the North Cornish coast path all the way up to Dorset. I’m from Bristol which isn’t far away, and so we’d get the train down and work our way back. We completed it bit by bit, year by year, hiking in the day, staying b&b’s in the evening. We did similar mileage each day I think and we started when I was 7. My parents acted like it was something I would be able to do so I just did it, basically! I loved the views and cliff tops and quirky b&b’s!
    If you’re in the U.K., particularly the South West, I’d recommend it. Those summers were the BEST.

  25. Clare says...

    My family lives in flat suburbia, but my husband and I have raised our daughter to be a hiker. A lot of it is using walking as an everyday activity: walking on errands, walking to friend’s houses, etc. We went backpacking in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last year when the kid was 10. She carried her own pack, and we went 4-8 miles each day. The best trick we had was “you walk one hour, you stop for 10 minutes for a snack break”. That way, you don’t need to argue about when the next break is, or how far you have to go. When the kid asks “When can we stop?” you can tell them exactly how many minutes until the next snack break. The downside of this is that sometimes your scheduled snack break occurs in a buggy swamp instead of next to a pretty waterfall, but it seemed to keep our kid motivated and it definitely minimized whining!

  26. Pam says...

    We dont need validation ladies, but I’ll still point out that Cheryl Strayed (the wonderwoman Of PCT/Wild fame) admitted she bribed her young kids with candy when hiking. So, good enough for the rest of us!
    Also, my 5 yr old just got into maps, and loves to follow along and try to find our spot as we progress. Worth finding a map of your trail, and let the kids “guide.”

  27. Vicky says...

    Take a dog!! Our 3,5 year old is always keener to do a long walk if the dog is hiking along with us – she loves watching the dog’s reactions in nature. Or hike with other families with kids – they motivate each other. Also: we got our daughter a magnifying glass and a whistle. Her mission is to run ahead, spot interesting things with her lens and call us over with the whistle. She LOVES it.

  28. KB says...

    These are great tips. Thank you for sharing your love of the outdoors!

    We went hiking in the Adirondacks this weekend, and the kids were so proud to complete their first 4000 foot ascent. On the way back down, when legs were wobbly and everyone was tired, my dear spouse began to engage the kids in a verbal game of Dungeons and Dragons, complete with oral rolls-of-the-dice….

    Dad: “You come upon an Orc in this cave…
    Kid: “I’d like to approach him to see if he will negotiate”
    Dad: “I have a number in my head between 1-10…”
    Kid: “Seven?”
    Dad: “Oooooh! Miss! Now what will you try?”
    Kid 2: “I will use my sleeping potion on him”
    Dad: “Number between 1-10…”
    Kid 2: “5!”
    Dad: “Yes! The sleeping portion works. The orc slumbers and you look down the cave and hear….”

    The kids were ENTHRALLED. It was adorable. And there was an elf named–wait for it–Shane. Shane the elf. He made everyone friendship bracelets.

    • Erin says...

      This is amazing!!

    • Magdalena says...

      This is gold! will try this next time my 6yo need some extra power to finish the hike :)
      thanks for sharing

  29. Anna Vivian says...

    I work in outdoor programming with elementary-aged kids so I really love this :) It is such a joy to help kids explore the world around them! Something I have taken to heart is that you don’t need to plan elaborate activities for kids to learn and have fun. I try to imagine myself as this wise, gentle guide who is just there to facilitate their exploration of the world. I try to learn a lot about the world around me (birds, mushrooms, little geological features) so I can point them out to kids and we can ask questions together. We love to just walk and look at things and talk about them.

    One of my most joyfully heartbreaking “yes!” moments in this work was when, after a nature walk (with binoculars!!!!) one of my little girls said “Do you know why I love to explore? Because there’s just so much to discover.” (Woohoo!!!! That’s the money.) Other great quotes — “I just LOVE the breezy air” and, when I asked one little hiker how she was doing — “Tired…but refreshing.” Love when they pick up all the things I love about the great outdoors :)

    And yes…”special” snacks are pure gold. But the joy of exploration goes a long way too!

  30. Vicki says...

    So much of doing something with kids is about preparing and attitude! When I first saw this I thought how did they possibly do that? But while I was reading and I realized that’s the same response people give to me and my husband when they hear we drove Cross country with our two boys. It was really the same thing prepping for things for them to do and making sure there were exciting things for them to see and experience as well as just having a good attitude. The long and short of it is Do a little prep work and then get out there! It is so worth it for the whole family!

  31. Beth says...

    When we go on hikes/walks/bike rides, we play a game called Candyland. Basically, we just pretend that whatever lies up ahead is made out of candy. Our kids race to “the candy” and pretend to eat it and ask what lies ahead. “Oh look! An entire fence made out of candy canes coming up! Oh wow, a chocolate river! Here, take this (imaginary) spoon!” Never forget the power of novelty and play when it comes to kids.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that!

  32. This is such an inspiring post, I just want to go exploring RIGHT NOW! Thanks for sharing

  33. chloe riddell says...

    I’d love to know the exact routes they took!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks, chloe! here’s erin’s itinerary:

      We flew to Zurich, then by train to Interlaken, which is sort of the gateway town to the Berner Oberland region. From there, we hiked town to town, 6-8 miles each day, with occasional assists from trains and cable cars (and arranged our stroller and non-hiking luggage to be transferred separately, inn to inn).

      Day 1: Schwarzwaldalp —> Grosse Scheidegg —> First —> then a rewarding gondola ride down to Grindelwald

      Day 2: Grindelwald —> Kleine Scheidegg —>Wengen

      Day 3: Wengen —> Lauterbrunnen —> Mürren

      Day 4: Mürren —> Sulwald —> cable car down to Isenfluh, then a train back to Interlaken

  34. Kat says...

    I live in Vancouver and we hike lots with our kids in the local mountains. I cannot stress the importance of the treats enough – ideally small ones that you can dole out very regularly. We usually get jelly beans that we call “hiking beans” and we consider them as vital as water and good footwear.

  35. Meg says...

    LOLLIPOPS! They are the perfect hiking candy: they last forever, are extra fun (something about watching them get smaller??), and little kids stumbling over roots and rocks won’t choke on them. When we hike with our kids, the youngest (6) usually wants to sprint ahead, then stop, then plod. But with a lollipop in his mouth he treks along, humming to himself, keeping a totally consistent speed – we call it lollipop pace. Sometimes when I am out for a long run on my own or staring down a massive to-do list at work, I just tell myself to find lollipop pace and keep going like a six-year-old with a sucker.

    • Danielle says...

      When I first started cycling more seriously I used to swear by a lollipop to get me through without stopping. It was perfect because your mouth always gets dry when you are struggling up a climb, it delivered a slow drip of sugar and I think that it really did help set a pace (my goal was just to keep on steadily climbing not to do it quickly, ha). The climb I practiced on was Hawk Hill just on the other side of the Golden Gate so thousands of tourists have probably witnessed my lollipop climbs!

  36. Kelly P says...

    Reading this, I’m pretty sure these are all tricks my husband uses on me to ‘encourage’ me to hike with him. Hahaha! Yay for snacks!

    • Monica says...

      Haha- was thinking the exact same thing!!!!(On an aside, they are cute husbands:)

  37. Kirstie says...

    My heart sank when I read “I had the boys look for and pick every variety of wildflower until every pocket in my backpack was overflowing.”. Given the large & loyal following of Cup of Jo readers I beg the COJ team to consider editing that tip for the negative cumulative effect has the potential to have a huge impact on the natural world. I live in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies where it is illegal to pick wildflowers. When you see a meadow overflowing with wildflowers it may not seem like it will make a difference if your family picks wildflowers but if every family does the same you are denying others to get to enjoy the beauty of that overflowing meadow of wildflowers. We got a really fun easy to read wildflower book for our nephew to read on hikes. He will charge ahead to look for a wildflower so he can look it up to teach us the name of the wildflower. We learned that some species of wildflowers can take up to 7 years to bloom and if picked the flower will never return. We witnessed that personally in a few short years when a meadow that was once overflowing with stunning orange wood lilies was decimated by hikers who couldn’t help but pick “just one” lily to put in their hair or hang on their backpack. The cumulative effect of each hiker picking a wood lily meant that in a few short years that meadow no longer bloomed with the stunning flower at all. I really miss seeing that meadow of wildflowers every year. Cup of Jo readers are a creative community and I’m sure parents can come up with ways to foster a love of nature without destroying it in the process. If every family picks wildflowers until their backpacks are overflowing it robs everyone of the opportunity to witness that beauty.

    • Sasha L says...

      Thank you for this!! I was cringing too.

      Children naturally want to pick, take, collect, and it seems a sweet impulse, but it’s not hard to teach them to appreciate by smelling, drawing, taking pictures, simply showing to others – all without damaging.

      The first rule of spending time in nature is LEAVE NO TRACE and it’s really really important.

    • Eva says...

      It’s illegal to pick quite a few species of wildflowers in the Alps as well.

    • Kate says...

      Yes! No trace. I’m drilling it into my kids heads that if you pick a flower the next person doesn’t get to see it and the bees and butterflies lose out. Nothing should be destroyed by hikers passing through….including flowers – that will just be tossed aside denying bees and butterflies their food too. I’d also urge you to take out that line – it’s not a good way for kids to pass the time destroying part of what makes it pretty.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for these thoughtful comments! i edited the post, and i appreciate your feedback. i’m sure erin would agree, too; she is a huge lover of nature. thank you xoxo

    • Erin says...

      Hi Kirstie, Thank you so much for pointing this out, I cringed rereading that line myself as I had just written that so quickly without thought. I couldn’t agree more how important it is to minimize our impact and would hate for that line to be taken as an encouragement to damage these beautiful places in any way. “Leave no trace” is such an important principle in protected parks and wildernesses and is something we value and teach our children. Just to explain a bit better: our children loved finding and identifying all the unique wildflowers during our hike, but only picked a handful of common flowers when walking along more heavily trafficked trails / paved roads close to town (by the cable cars, train stations, stores, etc.). Most of the flowers were actually dandelions (which they were *so* enamored by and called “wildflowers” the entire trip, as they don’t see them in the city!). We made sure they understood the fragile alpine flowers are to be protected. I’m so sorry that line sounded as though the children were removing large amounts of precious wildflowers, which was definitely not the case — I should have worded that more carefully. Thank you so much for clarifying. I love and appreciate reading all of the thoughtful comments here. ❤️

    • Jami says...

      LOVE this post but came to make the same comment re wildflowers and Leave No Trace. What an awesome opportunity for parents to learn LNT principles and pass them on to their children! lnt.org is a fantastic organization with really helpful educational materials – it’d be awesome if you gave them a mention in this post. The more people that understand and follow these principles, the more we can all enjoy the outdoors! ….please do consider replacing the ‘picked’ wildflower photos in this post as well. Thanks COJ!

  38. Sharon says...

    to think, I almost didn’t read this post! I don’t have kids, and while I LOVE nature, I have found I’m more of a walker than a hiker. All that to say, I loved this post. Those pictures!!! Absolutely stunning.

    I also had to laugh at the treats suggestion. Such a great idea for adults too! I went on a tour years ago in Italy that involved numerous hikes, many with lots of elevation changes. The guides would always stop mid hike with some sort of treat and a history lesson on what they were serving. There is something extra special about the surprise and novelty of an unexpected snack!

    • Heather says...

      I almost didn’t read this post either! For me the sell is travel and AMAZING nature photography, moreso than kid tips, not being a parent.

  39. Emma says...

    I also live in NYC and try to get my 3 year old out every weekend. A few tips that I have are: Buy them a heavy duty magnifying glass and binoculars, take along a nature scavenger hunt sheet, make little homemade nature books where you have a new theme each time you go, like flowers, leaves or bugs…let them press flowers and leaves into the books and drawer different bugs. Hugging the trees as you go helps too!

    • S says...

      Fellow New Yorker with a three year old…love and am taking your recommendations. Any particular place you recommend to hike?

  40. Nat says...

    Hi! Zero hiking experience here but I think my kid would love any version of this. Pardon the not-so-fun question: what’s the drill when the kids want to use the bathroom?

    • Jennifer says...

      My first thought! LOL

    • Lauren says...

      Teach them to go in the woods! Good lesson for any age, really. Carry TP and hand sanitizer along and teach them how to find a hidden place, squat, go downhill, dig a hole with a rock/stick to bury if necessary… there may be some mishaps but this is important to know to enjoy the outdoors throughout your life! Lots of helpful info here: https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/dispose-of-waste-properly/

    • Kelcey says...

      Nothing quite so freeing as a nature pee!

    • Tristen says...

      Nature pees! (And the occasional/unfortunate nature poop too : ))

    • Katie says...

      Ziploc bag with toilet paper, with another ziploc bag for the used. A small shovel to dig a hole and bury the business.

    • Nina says...

      As a native norwegian (and avis outdoor -person) : you just go when you have to – just get off the path, dig a hole for big ones and the tp, pee dissipates very naturally. Bring hand sanitizer for washing hands. goes for adults too. And yes, it’s rather cold at timess.

    • Alexandra says...

      Very useful skill to be able to pee in nature (no problem for boys though) – great for long road trips etc. as well. I second bringing toilet paper or hygiene wipes and hand sanitizer in a ziploc, and another ziploc for used TP. For longer hikes and backpacking, REI has little foldable shovels to dig a hole and military grade ziplocs that hermetically seal any used toilet paper that you might have to bring back.

  41. Rachel says...

    Love this SO much! Switzerland is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and I was only there two days. I’d love to take my whole family one day!

  42. ac says...

    I love backpacking! this post just made me excited for when I have kids knowing that my love for the outdoors can be not only passed on but actually enjoyed as a family :) Thanks for posting!

  43. P says...

    Took kids hiking in Iceland and Romania. They were 4 and 7 and 5 and 8 respectively. Next year we go to hike the Tatry mountains in Poland. I agree with all the points. Snacks typically work magic. Breaks and letting them make some decisions so they feel in charge.

    • Magdalena says...

      Tatry are magical! just came back from hiking to Rysy. Kids stayed with grandparent though as it was date-hike just for me and my husband :)

  44. Tracy M. says...

    My parents took me and my brother (then 8 and 11) on a 3-day hike on the Appalachian Trail in the ’90s and on the last day, I dropped to the ground and just cried, “I can’t go on!” They stood patiently and waited until I was done complaining, took my pack for a little while, and didn’t say another word about it. To this day, that hiking trip is one of my fondest family memories (and now I’m an enthusiastic hiker!). Parents: Even if it seems like your children are miserable, chances are they will still remember how lovely it was to be out in the wild. Just be sure to stay calm when they freak out so the lecture isn’t what they remember.

    And also – geocaching! I do this all the time with my 3- and 6-year-old. It’s a great incentive on longer hikes.

  45. Evie says...

    Last year we were trying to come up with a way to motivate our 3.5 year old twins to hike more. We thought it would be fun for them to earn badges after completing 10 hikes, 20 hikes, etc. I came up with the idea and my husband (who is a stay at home dad) completely ran with it. He came up with an elaborate book of badges to earn – a lot hiking and nature related, and then made all the badges out of felt. He also made them a vest to glue the badges onto. Whenever they earn a badge, he plays the theme song from the olympics and we review what they have accomplished. They have almost earned their extreme hiker badge – 30 hikes!

    • J says...

      That’s awesome! I’m so impressed with parents who take the time to do this sort of thing. I feel like I’m drowning with a 3.5 year old and a 13 month old while working full time. I want to be intentional and create fun, lasting memories for them. Sigh, but for some reason I feel like I’m just in survival mode. Hopefully it gets a little easier. But kudos to you, with TWO 3.5 year olds, no less. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    • Amy says...

      That sounds like a great motivator for our little guys. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Jenny says...

    We have been to the playground in Mürren shown in one of the last pictures in the post, and I truly believe it’s the most beautiful playground in the world! You can’t see it in the picture here because of the cloud cover, but the playground is very high up and literally surrounded by the Alps- it’s absolutely breathtaking! This whole region in Switzerland is incredibly beautiful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it looks so stunning!

  47. Marina says...

    I don’t hike at all (it’s not my thing), but I would like to emphasize the “make the enthusiasm contagious” part. It works with all my kids if we want to do some kind of challenging activity (like miles long walking city tours, for example) – but our enthusiasm has to be true, and kids can tell the difference.

    We go to this huge music + political festival every year. It’s usually very hot, we walk for miles for 3 whole days, listen to music and debates that obviously don’t interest children, and yet my kids always try to be on their best behavior. When asked why, my 10-year-old answered: this is mum’s happy place. It’s her people, her music, her favorite themes and it’s only 3 days a year. We can be really, really good for 3 days. ☺ I was so touched by this. And they’re right: it is my happy place, even more so now.

    • agnes says...

      Adorable <3

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      aww, i love that, marina.

  48. Hanna says...

    Love this post so much! We have just moved to Europe (from Canada) and we love to hike with our kids! I agree that it is all about treats, comfort and a positive attitude. Erin, where is the picture of the ‘hostel/hotel’? Were you able to find rooms like that in each town? Thanks again for this post – I think it is so important to get kids outside!

  49. It’s so funny because it mreminds me a lot when I parents wanted us to go hiking with them when we were kids. And it turned out well ;)
    Great post!
    xx

    Eli

  50. Celebrating five years in my adopted country of Switzerland and I couldn’t be happier to see it here on Cup of Jo! We’re still in the toddler and baby stage and so we swear by the Deuter Kid Comfort carriers. Also, map out the schnitzel/brautwurt/rösti stops for the parents — YUM.

  51. Hi, wonderful post (as always!). We are hiking with our kids since they were born. For the first year they were on our backs and then they were walking more and more parts of the hike by themselves.
    Nowadays they are 13 and 8 and love hiking. For younger kids i have three tipps for keeping them happy: First: We’re established the myth of “Summit frogs” (the green frogs from haribo). They know: on the summit we open a bag of those frogs, so they are really looking forward to climb up to the top. (sometimes my husband climbs or hikes in front on difficult mountains and secretly placs somme froggies on the trail) Second: pack lunches and food they like. Picknicks are the best part of a hike (and the backpack is even lighter after that) and third: bring carving knives for a carving break: the collect sticks and wood pieces along the way and use the lunch break or the summit break for carving and relaxing! There are save carving knives from Victorinox and Opinel for younger kids with round knive tips. So much fun!

  52. agnes says...

    Such an exciting post (thinking about holidays, right now, is the best). We love camping and hiking with our son and have done so for the last 2 summers, In Corsica . No particular gear for walking but definitely a goal: a river where we would swim, a (magic) forest, a special picnic. For desperate moments, stories and songs are the best. I’m writing down all your tips! Switzerland is so beautiful! Thank you (in Europe it’s becoming quite common also to take a donkey with you; they are great, but a donkey is really like taking another moody person with you).

  53. Anna says...

    I think the key is to make walking longer distances part of life from as early on as possible, either in the city or the wilderness! :-) We live in a city but have never had a car (or a stroller) – we carried our son when he was a baby and once he was too heavy for that, it was up to him to walk. For him it is just how you get around (with the very rare exception when we need to get a taxi or rent a car) and we regularly walk 5-10 km per day to get to buses or go shopping. Once that level of activity is normal, a hike is an easy extension of that.

  54. Hilary says...

    I’m sure someone has already posted this, but kid friends are so key for our kids! With friends, they’ll hike miles and never utter a single complaint. With us, they’re whining within 200 feet (on a bad day). Totally worth it to coordinate – and it’s super fun for the grown ups to have grown up hiking friends, too!

    • Magdalena says...

      Totally agree, much easier with other children/families.
      The same goes when my kids hike with kindergarten (we live in Norway so hiking as kindergarten activity is a norm, at least in my mountain surrounded city) – they just go!

  55. What a timely piece! We moved to Switzerland 12 years ago and have been hiking with our children since I was pregnant with both. Switzerland is the ideal location to introduce children to nature and ignite trail love. With over 65,000km of well-marked and maintained trails, truly there is no better place to hike as a family and teach valuable skills, plus forge a deep connection to the natural world. :)
    For families interested in hiking in Switzerland, but not sure how to read trail markers (a must know before venturing out), or where to go, we recently published a book, Fresh Air Kids Switzerland – 52 Inspiring Hikes That Will Make Kids and Parents Happy.
    Happy trails!

  56. Bec says...

    I wish my parents took my sister and I walking as young kids. I’m now about to marry a hiker who has dragged me on 20+ hikes around the world and I’ve probably enjoyed about 3 of them! It’s the monotony that really kills me. Step. Step. Step. Step. Step. Ughhhhh.

    • Kirsty says...

      I was brought up hiking. I hate it. I hated it as a kid and I hate it even more now. I don’t like the monotony, I don’t care about nature, and it seems like a huge waste of time when I could be doing something I consider productive. This holiday seems like a nightmare for me at any age!

      Which is to say, if you don’t like hikes now, there’s a good chance it’s in your DNA and not your upbringing. Enjoy the indoors!

  57. My husband and I live in Telluride, Colorado with our two girls, ages 4 and 7. There are many hiking trails right outside our door and we make after dinner mini hikes a part of our routine as much as we can, especially in the Summer and early Fall. We pick up neighbor kids along the way and this is the best way to keep them interested. The more friends you can bring along, the better! They don’t even realize they are hiking, but playing outside and taking turns leading the way. Sometimes the neighborhood dogs even join in.

    Whenever we prepare for a longer hike, the kids set to work making snack necklaces that they can wear or nibble on along the way. I give them string and any ring-shaped food I can find (i.e. cheerios, lifesaver gummies, fruit loops, dried fruit). This creates anticipation for the hike and teaches them to manage how much they eat so that they have enough for the entire hike.

    • Becca Lloyd says...

      Little friends on the trail are so helpful!

  58. Leah says...

    We have always done really long hikes in the Canadian Rockies with our two daughters. When they were young (actually, we still do it, even though they are 19 and 16), we would watch the time and, at the top of every hour, we would have the “Weary Minute.” One full minute of all the whining, complaining and moaning we could muster! Even thought we saved up all our complaints, we could never make it past about 20 seconds before laughing our heads off. It’s hard to whine that long! But the agreement was that we had to fill the entire minute, so our complaints became very creative and hilarious.

    • Jos says...

      This is so sweet, and really useful! Saving it for when my daughter is old enough to complain. <3

    • KL says...

      i.love.this.

    • J says...

      haha. LOVE.

    • Martha L. says...

      This is awesome! It would probably work well for all sorts of other things, like long car trips, a day of errands, etc.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha so good!!

  59. Sasha L says...

    I love this post so much! We are a family of hikers and are so lucky to live in Montana, where a hike is always just down the road. My best advice is to just go – and assume your kids will love it given half the chance. I’m all about treats (!!!), but hiking is so full of wonder and amazement and fun that you don’t really need to *reward* it. Also, kids can hike way farther, way younger than parents usually give them credit for. If carrying is just not on the table to negotiate, they’ll walk MILES. Bonus: your kids may run XC in high school, with all the other super cool kids 😉

    Once you’re hooked, you can travel all over the country (& world!) to national parks and hike away! Best vacations ever with kids.

    Also, please practice good trail etiquette and teach your kids to do so.

    • Melissa says...

      We have 3 and 5 year old boys are our best hikes are when we (and they) are with friends! A hike becomes an awesome play date (for all).

    • CK says...

      Fellow Montanan here. Thank you for mentioning trail etiquette!

  60. Kelsey says...

    We were here a few weeks ago for our honeymoon! I wish I’d had some of these tips for myself on a few of our hikes!

  61. Sarah says...

    something that helps eliminate complaints during any walk is giving each child their own pail. They get so excited filling it up with leaves, rocks, snails, bugs, this & that and they run ahead. Then at the end of the trail or city walk they compare all their treasures in the end.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Love this idea!

    • AM says...

      Brilliant!!!!!!!!

  62. Fi says...

    Great blog and isn’t it special to spend time with your children? They grow up so fast make the most of it! I still love spending time with my two who are grownup!

  63. shannon says...

    The photo between tips 4 & 5 has me singing the hills are aliiiiiiive ….. !

    And thinking we could one day take on this trip with kiddos. There is so much narrative around travel being over (or rather, fun during travel being over) with kids. I’m so encouraged by this type of post. It alleviates some of my anxiety around trying to squeeze in justonemorething before having a baby.

    • Capucine says...

      Oh mama, let me tell you – I have traveled more since having my kids than I did before! My in-laws are in France and cannot fly, so! Every year we travel Europe for six weeks. Now I wouldn’t give two pennies to parents who follow the ‘no kids until they are old enough to appreciate travel’ rule. Your kid will understand, once and forever, that things are truly different in other places, and also humans are human everywhere despite that difference. (You will not, however, be reading a magazine in peace on the plane again until whatever age you allow them to get really into screens.) We paid $179 SF-Paris this summer and rented an RV for a week before our time with relatives, highly recommend that. Dream a little. Life does not end when children appear, although magazine time does. You will be a better human for traveling with them, and they will be better humans for having traveled, this I guarantee. Dream of a big life for them.

    • MariaE. says...

      Capucine, yours is one of best comments ever!! I love it

    • Alexandra says...

      I think there are a lot of anxiety-producing articles etc. out there. I have traveled with my kids to Europe from San Francisco at any age, and it’s been fun. Of course, there will be moments where you just want to give up, because there is too much unrest, too much whining etc., but I think the earlier you expose your children to new places, countries, cultures, food, the more interested they become in the world around them. I visited grandparents in Germany, with my husband and two kids we went to stay in Berlin for two weeks – it is awesome. You will have to adjust to make sure that they are having fun as well, and you might not be able to spend hours in a museum, but hey, you will get to know a lot of things that you otherwise would not have. Look forward to it!

    • Amy says...

      Such a great comment. I do get a little sad when I hear my brother complain about traveling with his kids (4 kids is a lot I understand), but I really love traveling with my kids. Sleep can be tough and some days aren’t great, but they are up for adventure and adaptable to different circumstances. They are 4 and 6 now and we are plotting out first family international trip. We are hikers and they do great. Can’t wait to experience the rest of the world through their eyes.

  64. Kelli says...

    I am a distance trail runner, my husband is a backcountry hunter and we live in the Yukon, Canada. Hiking with our boys (7 & 5) is our ‘common ground’ for connecting our favourite pastimes. The boys love mommy’s special running candy (GUs and gummies) and daddy’s special hunting food (Mountain House Meals).

    My tip is give the kids whistles or bells; kids love making music as they hike and it scares away all the bears!

    • Sasha L says...

      You are living my DREAM Kelli!!!

      Mountain House pad Thai is the best!! We always save it till the last night of a backpacking trip, and it’s better than Thanksgiving.

    • Angele says...

      Reading this makes me want the breakfast skillet!! I swear I could eat it every morning :)

  65. Holly says...

    We’ve been hiking with our daughter in the Canadian Rockies and on vacations since she was a toddler. As many other readers have posted, snacks are key! When she was little we also stopped wherever she wanted to look at rocks, ants, moss, —- absolutely anything she found interesting. It was a great way to slow down and appreciate her world, and also cultivated curiosity about everything (even grizzly bear poop!).
    At about age 11, we started taking Shakespeare passages on little pocket slips of paper and we memorized them on the way up the mountain. She loved it, especially because she was so much better at it than we were! Now we all associate a passage with a particular hike. It was a great distraction from the arduous task of climbing.

    • Grace says...

      My husband and I try to hike weekly with our two kids, 5 and 2. We have experienced every kind of hike you can imagine, the best and the worst. My biggest advice is to just keep doing it! They build up stamina and their love for nature the more you go. My son hiked 8 miles last fall when he was 4 all by himself with around 2,000 feet of elevation gain. These little people have so much energy and enthusiasm. It’s inspiring to watch. We also have to bring special snacks and keep them moving with games and stories but the more you go the better it gets and before you know it, they are out hiking you!

  66. Sonja Dorrance Jernstrom says...

    We’re Seattle people too (yay!) and do a lot of small hikes here in the Pacific Northwest but were having a hard time breaking into backpacking since my 8 year old is tiny and basically falls over anytime you add a backpack.

    So we hired a team of llamas! (and their wranglers)

    It was a total hoot and my kid was in love from the first second. Not only do they carry (most) of your gear, but it’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about these cool and wacky pack animals. He spent all our camp time feeding, grooming, and saddling our stock. Getting to be the head of the llama train kept him trucking down the trail at a fast clip for our entire trip.

    Also, if you want to learn more about amazing parents that hike/trek with their (young) kids, check out Erin McKittrick out of Alaska. That family is incredibly brave.

    • Lindsay Sadler says...

      this is crazy and cool! I live just outside of seattle and might need to try this lol, we LOVE llamas! I have never heard of this before.

    • Sara says...

      This sounds just amazing, Sonja!

    • Monica says...

      Ahhh! This is so wacky and cool! Nothing I would ever think to do and i love it.

  67. One game we play while hiking with my 3 and 6 year old is like hide and seek where someone will go up ahead and hide and the others have to find them. Or the opposite where the people in the back sneak up on the ones in front. At this age you don’t have to be too sneaky or hide very well and they love it.

  68. Christi says...

    Our kids spent 5 years in Switzerland and I am always so thankful! It made them love hiking -not only because of the playgrounds and huts of ice cream incorporated into almost every hike-
    but because for 2-4hrs per week elementary age kiddos would spend time hiking and playing in the forest in all kinds of weather- which meant when we wanted to go as a family they were self sufficient and knew they could do it! We live in the mountains of the west now and even I miss the huts- there is something to be said for a glass of red and sliced cheese mid hike!

    • Nathalie says...

      Yes! My kids went to a forest play-school in Germany and it got them used to hiking at the age of 3. Which otherwise wouldn’t be realistic for non-outdoorsy me.
      My kids don’t need much motivation but the promise of good food keeps me going when we’re on a hike!
      Just a note about collecting things – some wild flowers are protected so a nice alternative to picking flowers could be to let your child take a picture instead.

  69. Libby says...

    Also FWIW, I was a very reluctant and whiny hiker as a kid (my family has some good stories of my epic meltdowns) but as an adult it’s my favorite thing and went on to hike the entire the Appalachian Trail in my early 20’s, So there’s still hope even if your kids don’t seem to love it now, they may some day!

    • Frieda says...

      Yes, my sister and I also coplained a lot when hiking. Now as adults, we love it and still travel sometimes as a family for hiking. I also realized that my boyfriend whose family never went hiking (or cycling, or kayaking, …) already struggles with the shortest walking distances, whereas I would also chose walking over car/public transportation. Forcing your children to walk and hike may means a lot of complaints and meltdowns, but it will payback when they are grown-up and adopted a healthy habbit.

    • Sid says...

      So happy to see that a “recovered whiner” chimed in! Parents of whiners: it’s not your fault! I have always loved walking and hiking from toddlerhood. Turns out I gave birth to two people who consider walking akin to torture. I have all my fingers crossed that my kids will eventually see the light but sometimes it can be so exhausting to try to keep them motivated and enthusiastic that I get discouraged. It killed me a little to give in but bribes are the ONLY thing that has worked.

    • Frieda says...

      Keep going, Sid. It’s really likely to get better at some point!

  70. Libby says...

    This looks amazing! We motivate while hiking or cross country skiing with our kids (6 and 4) by role playing Jack and Annie (and Morgan and Teddy) from the Magic Treehouse series. Last winter when my daughter was 5 I took her out cross country skiing in an irresistible blizzard through pretty deep snow and we were Jack and Annie in Balto of the Blue Dawn the entire time and not even a hint of whining or melting down.

  71. Teegan says...

    What kind of budget does it take for a trip like this? Beyond flights, of course. We live in VT and have two little hikers (they’ll be 5 and 7 by next summer), and I would love to do something like this with them. We’ve thought about doing a similar thing in the UK, but the photos here are beautiful!

    • Sara says...

      We hiked the Pembrokeshire trail (Wales) last year with our seven years old son. We hiked for seven days and stayed at airbnbs in towns near the trail. I don’t remember the exact budget, but as we went in off-season (November), it was relatively inexpensive (no more expensive than a normal vacation). The airbnbs didn’t cost more than 90-100$ a night.
      It was a wonderful trip, I highly recommend it.

    • Silvia says...

      https://www.macsadventure.com/ offers self-guided hiking trips. It is too expensive in my view (I live in Switzerland), but you can check out the accomodations they offer.
      Food in Switzerland is fairly expensive; a restaurant meal is at least CHF 25 (that’s a cheap meal), if you pack a lunch from a grocery store I’d guess around CHF 8 per person, depending on what you pick.

  72. jennifer says...

    We live just outside Seattle with our 9 and 6 year old and hike/nature walk regularly with them as we are close to all kinds of trails. They love it! Definitely searching for treasures helps: frogs, snakes, animal tracks, scat, rocks, agates, birds, etc. Letting them take the lead, scurry down steep slopes, walk themselves on logs over creeks – it all builds confidence and boosts their pride and excitement! I second keeping kids comfy, proper clothes and plenty of water and snacks too. Also, I kept my youngest occupied this summer by pretending hills were rollercoasters (climb to the top and then run all the way down with arms in the air or holding hands) as well as getting “ice cream” from the imaginary ice cream stand around the bend (or other pretend adventures). We would imagine elaborate ice cream concoctions that would distract her from realizing how far we were walking.

  73. KJ says...

    Aww! Hiking Switzerland is on the top of my travel list. We don’t do much other than the beach (surfer husband) since the birth of our kiddo – who of all things is named Fritz, which was my husband’s nickname for him in utero since I guess I’ve made it abundantly clear this is where I’d like to go next. I’m from Bellingham, north of Seattle, so Cascade hikes are a shared love. Thanks for this inspiring post.

  74. Emily says...

    The geocaching app is a great motivator for kids as well. You can pull up a map of your location in the app and find geocaches (little containers or objects hidden by others) along your route almost anywhere. We went on a hike with our five and three-year olds this year, and my five year old was thrilled to find a geocache in the knot of a tree along the way. It was a small plastic container filled with trinkets and a notebook listing the names of others who had found the geocache as far back as 2013.

    • MM says...

      My family of LOVES geocaching! It is an excellent motivator to get the kids outside – it’s kind of like a treasure hunt and it’s really fun for kids of all ages. The app tracks how many caches you find which is motivating on longer hikes when we need to get “just one more” before our destination. We use it wherever we go from cities to rural areas, hiking trails, etc. Highly recommended!

    • LS says...

      I had completely forgotten about how much fun geocaching can be! It is also fantastic for exploring a new town. Thank you for the reminder!

  75. Jenny T says...

    Mine is to not push too hard- my dad was a ski instructor in college and as a little kid, we had long days on the mountain that made me dislike skiing until much later in life. Be ok with going their pace- checking out every snail, flower, and rock- and be tuned into when they’ve really had enough.

  76. Anna says...

    I also grew up hiking in the PNW. When I was a camp counselor, and we had a sneaky trick for hiking with a group: put the kids who want to hike slowly at the front. Others might be frustrated by the pace at times, but this eliminated having to stop and wait for stragglers. Of course it’s different with a small family group, but at camp we’re talking up to 18 girls on the trail… ! We did a lot of call and response songs and chants to keep it fun.

  77. Katie says...

    These pictures are absolutely breathtaking! It looks like such a fun adventure that the whole family will remember. Well, maybe not the 3-year old, but you know what I mean ;)

  78. Maclean Nash says...

    My boyfriend and I went on an a 3 day overnight hiking trip this summer in BC, Canada and our camp neighbours had two young sons (7-9) and I was shocked when their mother said they had been doing overnight hiking trips since their eldest was three! We’re talking 8 hour hardcore hikes a day, carrying all your stuff on your backs type of camping! The boys had a confidence about them I haven’t seen in the kids I personally know and they were even catching fish alongside us and we were both able to teach one another new tips and tricks!
    It was so cool to realize that being outdoors doesn’t have to be as limiting as I assumed it would be with kids and that kids are a lot more capable than I was giving them credit for. Now I cant wait for our nephew – who is only one – to be only a little bit older, so we can share the outdoors with him!

  79. Diana says...

    My husband is a huge hiker/backpacker. Our 9 year old daughter is a VERY reluctant hiker. We started her very early (lots of songs being sung as she cried in arms or in backpacks) but I still think there is a good chance it will never be her thing. Treats, inviting a friend along, music, jokes, scavenger hunts, giving her the camera, using imagination games – all have been used with varying success. On our most recent two week trip through the Canadian Rockies she was pretty done 2 miles in on a 7 mile hike so I was desperately telling her stories from my childhood and my mom’s childhood. I’d finish one story and she would immediately ask for another one. She said to me “you know, it really helps me when you tell me stories…it’s like I even forget that I am hiking.” At this stage in the game I took that as a very hearty mission accomplished!

    • T says...

      Maybe she might like storytelling podcasts?

  80. lk says...

    I used to give my young daughter a digital camera when hiking- I loved seeing what she found interesting and since she was shorter than me, she saw many different things at different angles. I loved the window into her world and she loved being a nature photographer- win win

  81. Abra says...

    We love getting out in mature as well so we taught our children to mountain bike. Our four year old will gladly climb a local mountain so he can ride back down!

  82. ~Heather says...

    Our family took some of those Swiss hiking trails 4 years ago, when my boys were 9 and 11.
    Another tip: if a parent runs down a trail and accidentally slips in a cowpie, that they thought was dried out mud (for there are plenty of cattle in the Alps!), it will elicit endless laughs and the memory will stick with your offspring for a lifetime!

    • Sandra says...

      LOL! So true! We went hiking in Colorado with my parents when my sister and I were maybe 4 and 6 and my mom had a bathroom incident that involved her light-colored hiking shoes getting stained. We still laugh about her “suspicious shoes” all these years later.

  83. Alice says...

    I’m raising my boys (age 4 an 1.5) in the Blue Ridge Mountains. For (usually) better or (sometimes, on rainy cold days) worse, there isn’t much to do besides hike! I second all the advice offered, and would add: don’t be afraid of a challenge! Some of my kids’ favorite hikes are marked difficult on trail maps, but they adore scrambling over rocks, down steep slopes, etc. They live for gnarly paths! It means we don’t usually make it far, and we sometimes get very dirty, but it’s worth it for the adventure.

  84. Amy says...

    We were on a hot and sweaty hike through Cinque Terre in Italy this summer and our youngest son (and I) were having a hard time staying positive. My husband used his encyclopedic knowledge of US history to break down the Cuban Missile crisis in clear and engaging detail. It was an effective distraction technique that kept us all moving at his faster pace so we could keep listening.

    • Tevis says...

      Love this!

  85. Cece says...

    My daughter is almost four and is usually the master of ‘are we there yet?’ and ‘mummy, I’m huuuuungry’ on any walk that lasts more than 15 minutes. But last week I shoved the baby into his sling, packed a clementine and a babybel cheese and told her we were walking to the fairy den.

    It was a magical grotto in a park near our house that a very kind couple built, filled with tiny houses, fairies, plastic toys etc and covered with a roof of leaves and moss. To an adult it’s quite bizarre, but utterly magical to a little kid. She walked 4 miles with not a single complaint!

    Incredibly sadly the den was actually burned down that very night. But my local community have rallied around to raise money and the couple have promised to rebuild. It still saddens me that anyone would deliberately go deep into the woods and destroy a symbol of children’s joy like that :(

  86. Audrey says...

    My best advice is to start them young! My husband and I moved from Texas to Colorado before my son was born so he’s been hiking is whole life. At age 3, I swear he out-hikes many of our out of town guests! Oh yeah, and hella snacks are key.

  87. Kirsty says...

    Would love to know what walking shoes you go for for your 3 year old Erin?

    • Erin says...

      Hi Kirsty, we got both our boys Keen waterproof sneakers (Hikeport). They kept their feet totally dry during hikes in the rain. I also love that they’re normal/light enough to wear back home in the city on rainy days.

  88. Kristie says...

    I grew up in an outdoorsy family with sporty parents and 4 sporty brothers, but I always preferred finding a nice tree to lean against and read a book rather than walking and walking. After years of living away from my family in my early 20s, I was back and my mum persuaded me to do a 3 day bush walk with her in the Wild Dog mountains (AUS). We carried everything on our backs and had to fill our bottles with water from a puddle full of larvae. We made wrong turns and had to climb steep precarious paths. But the time spent with just my mum in nature, working hard but in peace… I will always cherish it. So those with kids (I have a 1 year old now!), don’t despair if they drag their feet and complain- keep showing your love and enthusiasm and maybe one day they’ll come back and say, let’s go together.

  89. Lynn says...

    Is it possible to hike with an early 2-year-old? Will she touch ALL the poison oak? Is carrying her essential, and if so, with what carrier? I’m dying to jump on this hiking train and have been wondering if 2-year-olds are in that tough in-between zone of too big to carry and too small to walk-dear-god-walk!!

    • Kirsten says...

      I hike with mine! Just choose short walks and allow them a lot of time to explore and it works fine for us. I don’t usually bring a carrier to eliminate the option/whining, and we do a lot of racing and looking for bugs and stuff. Definitely look out for poison oak/don’t let them wander freely in the brush, but I’ll add that little kids are sponges who can learn to ID plants too. My two year old knows oak and walnut trees, mulberry, and a few flowers already! Teach them what not to touch!

    • Shannon says...

      Lynn, I hiked all summer in Maine with my five-year-old and my son, who turned 2.5 in late August. I was often by myself, and my son either rode on my back in the Tula toddler carrier (prefer this to a frame hiking pack, though I know some like them) or walked with his sister. Yes, our pace was slow, and yes, he often complained and asked to be picked up, but he also walked a fair bit and enjoyed collecting bits along the way (sticks, leaves, pebbles). I tried balancing my desire to have him walk with an appreciation for the fact that this was the last summer he’d be small enough to carry a lot of the time (sniff, sniff). He was all about the snacks!

      My best tip (other than snacks and M&Ms, ha) is an extension of letting them lead: I have them locate and follow the trail blazes. It’s amazing how much fun they have looking for them, and the blazes are just far enough apart that it’s good motivation to keep going. Hiking with friends who also have kids has been successful too – my five-year-old loves to race ahead with other kids to ‘beat the grownups.’

    • Erika says...

      I think so! I haven’t attempted anything like this Swiss adventure, but my 2yo and I participate in HikeItBaby and Free Forest School in our area. When we started this, I began with the “rule” that I would hold her hand, but I can’t carry her. Of course there are caveats (something scary, tripping, taking a longer course than anticipated), but we’ve done a mile in a half/two miles (again- not anywhere near these hikes above). With water, snacks, and layers- it’s fun!

    • Allie Meyer says...

      Most carriers will hold a 2 year old! My one year 15 mo is roughly the size of a 2 year old and see fits in it great with lots of room to go. Her 3.5 year old cousin even still fits. We do let her get out to run around some, too.

    • Erin says...

      Hi Lynn! We’ve used our daily Ergo carrier for really short hikes when our boys were around 2, but also invested in a hiking carrier for much longer hikes (we have the Deuter Kid Comfort 2, with a detachable sun/rain cover which has proven to be really useful!).

    • Isabella says...

      My son has been hiking since he was 2. We used an Osprey child backpack carrier for a while, and would alternate between carrying him and having him walk on his own. There were occasional whiny days, but for the most part he always loved being out in the woods. There’s so much for a little person to do out there! Mud puddles! Creeks! Rocks you can throw! Acorns you can collect! Critters you can watch! He learned to ID poison oak early on, and I still keep him very close (we live in major mountain lion territory). He got too heavy to carry right about at the same time that he started REALLY WANTING TO BURN UP THE MILES on those little legs, so it worked out well for us. Now, at 4 years old, going for hikes is his absolute favorite thing, and a guaranteed way to turn any cranky day around instantly. I think instilling a love of and comfort in the natural world is one of the greatest gifts we can offer our kids, and one of the best ways we can ensure that the next generation is motivated from the heart to steward and protect the Earth.

    • Lynn says...

      Thank you all so much!!

  90. Let me just say…. I LOVE SWITZERLAND!!! This was so inspiring! I look forward to when I can take my kiddos there. Thank you for this👍🏻

  91. Anna Wagstaff says...

    Growing up the hiking “leader” always counted steps. For every 100 steps they picked up a rock and at 500 or 1k steps we stopped, depending on the incline. After the break, we would rotate spots.

  92. Jeannie says...

    Many years ago, I took my (then) 5 year old niece on a short hike through some woods and she kept saying “are we there yet?”… I didn’t exactly know how to explain that we were doing… we weren’t going anywhere… there was no “there”… we’re here!

    After I told my husband that story, we decided it was a great metaphor for life and we’ll use it to remind each other that this (hand motioning around to nothing in particular) is “there”… we’re here… enjoy it :)

    • Meredith says...

      Needed that perspective today! Thanks for sharing :)

  93. Charlotte Keys says...

    Were the children thrilled by the scenery? I’ve been nuts about the mountains since I was teeny but some kids don’t even notice!

    • Peg says...

      We took our daughter hiking in the French Alps for the first time when she was seven. Our first day was very hot and we were glad to be out of the sun as we headed upward on a trail through the woods above our chalet/hotel. Though our daughter was doing well, after a couple of hours my husband and I started to think about turning around as we didn’t want to wear her out. That said, we hoped to get above the trees so we decided to go on for just a few more minutes. We came out of the woods into a large field that was empty except for some cows grazing. The sun was beating down and it took a few seconds for our eyes to adjust to the light – and to realize that we had a breathtaking view of Mont Blanc. It was totally unexpected. The field was dead silent except for some buzzing and the occasional cow bell. Our daughter stopped in her tracks and didn’t say a word. It was a moment. I will never forget how we took it all in. She didn’t fully appreciate every vista on the trip but Mont Blanc got her attention. ;-)

  94. Rachel says...

    Kelli, when yours are old enough, sign them up for the Metro Parks nature camps! Our six year old son finished his three weeks of Camp Warner/Bells Bend/Beaman a true hiking enthusiast.

  95. Kerry says...

    I’ve been to that area of Switzerland and can highly recommend it. Murren is a car-free village, you have to take trains and a cable car to reach it, which I think would blow the minds of most kids! Other villages nearby are reached via funicular! Great food, great scenery, great people.

  96. Jane I. says...

    LOVE this post!! I have a fun kid hiking story to tell.

    My niece (7), nephew (turning 10 this week *sob*) and sister visited this summer. They are city kids AND military brats. Think, extra spoiled and overly cautious. My husband, Sol, insisted we take them hiking because we live in Southern Nevada and that’s just what we do. I was so nervous that my older sister would say no, which she did at first. Thankfully, Uncle Sol is a sweet talker. The trick? Calling it a “nature walk” instead of a hike.

    We loaded up the kids along with snacks, water and a bag full of inhalers, band aids, EpiPens and other [unnecessary] medical items courtesy of my sister’s military training, then headed off to the mountains.

    Our trick for getting the kids excited? Stopping at the visitor’s center and purchasing a fold up nature pamphlet full of trees, plants and insects to look for. We handed it to the kids and said, “Let’s find all the things.” Eyes light up and off we go!

    After a while, we came upon a gushing stream leading up to a small waterfall with a giant log in the middle that begged to be walked on. Both kids, walked on the log, picked up rocks from the freezing water and collected all the sticks they could fit into their tiny pockets (which we later returned to mother nature).

    At the end of their two week visit, my husband asked what their favorite part of the trip was. My nephew, paused then said, “Going hiking with you guys.” *extra sob* We will forever be their cool aunt and uncle. I’m sure of it.

    • Becca says...

      Dude! You might be cool aunt but this comment was a bit nasty. As the mother of a daughter with a life threatening allergy and the wife of someone with asthma let me tell you – EpiPens and inhalers are certainly not unnecessary. You can’t even get them without prescriptions – a medical doctor deemed them necessary! Also – it’s kind of understandable that your sister would be nervous if they don’t usually hike, right? Be more kind, accept other people’s circumstances, live and let live.

    • Kelly says...

      hmmm, my city kids are regularly exposed to homeless people and others of less fortunate socio-economic backgrounds than us, and we talk about how we can incorporate service into our lives to help them…and they also can confidently navigate crowded city streets and public transportation…and are willing to try food of about any origin…among other not overly cautious traits…so not sure why anyone would automatically think extra spoiled and overly cautious when it comes to city kids!

  97. Maggie says...

    For any semi-long wall or hike, my boys and I create a scavenger hunt. We each nominate 1-2 interesting things to put on the list and we take turns keeping track of our progress. An item we always include on our hunt: “something I know a lot about.” It gives each of us the chance to be an expert on something that unexpectedly catches our eye while we walk. And when energy really starts to flag? Sour Patch Kids!

  98. Fiona says...

    We were in exactly the same area of Switzerland this past summer hiking with our kids. The views were spectacular. Our youngest has a disability so we were carrying him in our wecarrykevan backpack carrier. Usually my husband and I took turns carrying him except for our hike from Grindelwald to Berghaus Baregg and back the following day. I don’t love heights and there were big drop-offs. Sometimes we would put on an audible book but our biggest motivator was probably haribo candy. Our 15 yr old still says that his favourite thing in Switzerland was the soup at Berghaus Baregg

    • Jeanne says...

      We took our kids hiking here too! I’ve traveled all over the world and, for me, the Grindelwald/Lauterbrunen/Murren area takes the prize for the most naturally stunning. It looks just like these photos but hugely vast and downright breathtaking. The lowing cows and sheep with their bells made it even more magical. If you are planning a trip to Switzerland, we added a chocolate factory tour (Maison Cailler) where the kids got to create their own bars. Gosh I really need to get back to the Swiss Alps.

  99. maryann says...

    What an amazing trip! Such gorgeous photos. Thank you for sharing. The thing I love about hiking as a family is the sense of adventure of heading down the trail. I love these tips and can vouch for many of them. My kids now carry their own snacks. This has led to more peaceful hiking (e.g., no arguing over who has had x number of M&Ms) and so far, no one has eaten all of their M&Ms and Z bars within the first 500 feet!

    I once hiked Mt Katahdin with my 9 year-old son and two 9 and 10 year old nephews. At mile 6 when the boys started flagging, I brought up Hamilton, which they were all obsessed with at the time. This led to the boys singing the entire soundtrack for the next several hours. I have the best memories of that hike, and love remembering it whenever a Hamilton song comes on.

  100. Rebecca says...

    A friend who has grown children shared the magic of “squirrel treats” with me over the summer. If a little one is lagging, run up the trail a bit to place a couple dried cranberries, almonds, etc. along the path on a leaf or rock every hundred feet or so. The youngest in your group gets to search for the squirrel treats, the older kids can help hide the treats, and everyone moves along at a motivated, joyful pace! Plus, the kids become pros at spotting details along the way like wildflowers and cool bugs!

  101. Sasha says...

    I enjoyed this post so much! Your content is absolutely mesmerizing.

  102. Sadie says...

    Merino wool is your baby’s best friend for hiking. Don’t put kids in cotton socks and t’s and expect them to be comfortable.

  103. Shannon says...

    We take our kids, ages 4 and 6, on hikes or city walks nearly every week. Some days the enthusiasm is greater than others (my husband and I jokingly measure it by the donut to walking ratio). We make sure they have comfy gear, but also let them choose parts of their outfits. Our daughter often opts for a skirt and our son likes to wear Colorado Rockies garb; both of which draw many friendly greetings from passersby on the trail. We also try to bring fun snacks (donuts!) and let them take pictures, bring toys, and use their own binoculars. It takes patience and persistence, but those quiet moments together in the outdoors are totally worth it!

  104. Candace says...

    These photos are so, so stunning. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for sharing *today* – we have had two weekends in a row of our 16-month-old screaming his head off in the carrier on short family hiking excursions. The screaming only stopped if we put him down to charge along the trail ON HIS OWN power. We love hiking and want to share it with him…..this post makes me feel like there is hope! And for now, maybe the only way we’ll get some “hiking” in is to let him power his own way on his own two feet. If anyone has tips on hiking with a willful toddler – I’m all ears!!
    x

    • Angie says...

      I feel your pain. Around 18 months our kiddo (who had adored hiking while riding in the carrier) was suddenly having.none.of.it. We had to admit (short-term) defeat. For about a year we went only on trails where it was safe for him to explore on his own (no steep edges or slippery rocks). He loved scrambling up slopes on his hands and knees and being ‘portaged’ over the occasional tricky spot. We also brought all the good snacks we never ate at home and always worked something toddler friendly into the hike, like poking in tide pools or making mud pies. It will pass and you’ll be back to more adventurous adventures in no time!

  105. Iaia says...

    My tip: go with friends with kids and they will entertain themself. And yes, I agree, let the kids lead the way.

    • Sonja Dorrance Jernstrom says...

      YES! BRING FRIENDS!! Best tip yet. They’ll forget they’re evening hiking.

      We also put the kids in charge of snack dispensing: it’ll give them a job and make them feel proud that they’re contributing. Just make sure to bring a ton of food as my kids usually are ‘dying’ of hunger about 5 feet into the 5 mile hike…

  106. Kelli says...

    This makes me so happy. My husband have dreamed of a similar trip for years, but I’ve been pregnant/having babies for the last several. As I’m less than two weeks out from having our second, this gives me something to look forward to in the coming years. Also, the tips are great; definitely going to employ them with our 2-year-old when we go on nearby hikes around Nashville!

    • Becky says...

      So many great places to hike around Nashville! I’ve got four kids (pretty big now — 19 to 12), and we hiked a lot. Introduce yourselves to the rangers and show up for events. At places like Beaman Park, we’ve ended up going on bird walks with just us and the ranger or helped with hummingbird banding just because we’re there!

    • Amy L Packer says...

      Nashvillian here, too! Beaman, Radnor, Percy/Edwin Warner, Narrows of the Harpeth, Long Hunter Day Loop and so many options further out of town, especially waterfalls.

  107. Katrina says...

    My kids (7&5) are great little hikers. We do short hikes along the way we take pictures of things to look up later (plants, insects, reptiles). Give the kids a paper map, give them a compass and let them navigate.
    Bring a portable observation tank and catch some friends to investigate.
    We’ve caught and released frogs, insects, snakes, turtles, I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Let kids be kids.

  108. Ellie says...

    That technicolor slide in the forest is so magical looking! What a great trip!

  109. celeste says...

    My husband will devise a scavenger hunt for them. Here in WI, all the state parks have books children can complete for a badge. I was hiking with my nephew who has Asperger’s over Labor Day weekend and he asked me how to spell “insects” and other words for his booklet. It really kept the kids engaged.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s such a fun idea!

  110. Emma says...

    Haha love that pic of the candy selection. That arm definitely looks like it’s keeping a sibling at bay.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “That arm definitely looks like it’s keeping a sibling at bay.” = hahaha

    • Erin says...

      100% ACCURATE. :)

  111. Erin in AZ says...

    As a single Mom, I looked for things to do on the cheap. Hiking (with or without camping) is perfect! When it got to a point that I felt she needed a little help, I would ask if she wanted a ‘power boost’ (an M&M). It worked every time. Also, National Audubon Field Guides are awesome. You can look for birds, flowers, plants, trees. Whatever floats their boat.

  112. Em says...

    Wow! This is so beautiful, and inspiring. I’m definitely going to follow their example and save for an annual outdoorsy trip. It’s a missing piece, I realized in reading this. Thank you, all!

  113. jdp says...

    so gorgeous. all that fresh air!

  114. Tristen says...

    Getting our 4-year-old his own hydropak was a game changer. He loves drinking from it, and it forces him to carry his own pack. We’ve had it for a year now and we only use it on hikes. He gets so excited when he sees me pulling it out of the freezer!

  115. Annemarie says...

    This sounds like an amazing adventure!! I hike & camp regularly with our beaver scouts, ages 6-8. Our weather here in Ireland is very changeable so we also have to manage appropriate clothing. Top tips for us include allowing time for little breaks, stopping to examine anything children find interesting, and lots of treats. Riddles and jokes keep them laughing when the going gets tough so have a few ready. 😊

  116. The photos are breathtaking! What a lovely story.

  117. My 7 year old and 4 year old did their first over night 19 mile hike this summer. Skittles, tictacs, or sweet tarts are a must. We called them power pellets and gave them out liberally. Additionally, lots of breaks. Staying hydrated is so important so fun drinks or carrying their own water camel back are important too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, that’s so impressive!

    • Katie says...

      That’s so awesome! We only ever make it about 3 miles max. Candy, candy, and more candy. We bring a bag on every hike. Of course, we always bring some fruit, but yes, we do not hesitate with the treats. We also avoid extreme weather, especially the heat. No summer hiking where we are. I should get my oldest his own camel back. I bet he’d like that.

    • Jessica says...

      WOW! Kathryn, we need to hear more about this so we can learn from your preparation!!

    • rose says...

      As a life long health nut this sounds so wrong yet I was born and raised an American in Germany and yet, I remember LOVING the square dextrose tablets available at every Volksmarch – of which we did many as a family. Not sure if they are any healthier than regular candy but they were so fun to eat. Like a sweet tart in texture but without all the synthetic color/flavor additives. Really yummy from a child’s perspective.