Hiking With Kids Creates Awesome Family Memories
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ― John Muir
Do you remember going out for a family hike as a kid? Was it a joyous, well-planned, memorable occasion the Cleavers may have taken – picturesque, idyllic and heartwarming? Or was a family hike less than perfect, and instead an awkward, difficult, and Clark Griswold-style misadventure forever seared into your psyche? Either way, or any type of experience in between, it was surely something that created family memories that you will always cherish on some level, and relive with siblings and other relatives around campfires and at family reunions.
And now that you’re older and have your own family with children, do you dare take them hiking in the woods? Hopefully so, but if not, then read on in our efforts to convince you to brave family hiking as a bonding experience with lots of benefits. For one, it’s all about creating lasting memories; ones that your children will harken back to as they grow older. Family hikes are also invaluable opportunities to break away from the ever-present, overwhelmingly, encompassing technology and bound wholeheartedly into the Great Outdoors. Breathe real, fresh air. Walk on all-natural, organic materials. See live wildlife in their natural habitat. Now that’s some cool stuff!
The drawback, of course, to family hikes is the possibility that they will not be fun and end up being a negative experience for your kids, and in turn, you (and by “you,” we mean both mom and dad, if that’s the case). A bad vibe hiking trip can certainly backfire on you and be fuel for your kids’ future protests for getting back on the trail for another hike. To that, we say, “Who cares?” Yes, you may have a less-than-perfect family hiking experience once in a while, but for every bad one you have, you’ll have a dozen or more great ones. And you can’t give up after one bad time; it’s like practicing at anything – the more you do it the better you get.
So why do we think it’s so important to hiking with your children? Here are several reasons we think make family hiking a worthy endeavor.
- Connecting kids with nature and their local surroundings. Many children today may not know much about the forest, types of trees, basics of streams and rivers, or bird species. Getting out on a trail guarantees you’re going to experience those things and countless more natural sights and sounds first hand, and it will, without a doubt, be something they’ll never forget. When they hear and see a woodpecker hammering away at a tree – in a deathly quiet forest setting – or see a deer bound across the trail, or experience the excitement of a fish jumping out of the water… they will never forget it, and neither will you.
- Bonding time. As you hike with your kids, you’re talking, laughing, and taking in the environment with less stress, time restrictions, and distractions. That precious time is like gold, and you’ll never regret it.
- Get some exercise. As parents, finding time to hit the gym can be either stressful, or laughable and nonexistent. But taking a nice, long walk with your family gives both you and your children a good old fashioned cardiovascular workout that is enjoyable in the process. Need to get in shape before you get on the trail? Check out our 3 keys to getting in shape for hiking.
- Put down the iPad. How much of your child’s day is spent playing video games, texting, watching videos, and connecting with friends on social media? Probably too much, right? Likely way, way too much. Simply put, there is absolutely no reason anyone will need to have a tablet on a trail. NOTE: Please do, however, bring a phone in case of emergencies! Read more reasons to unplug from technology and get outside here.
- Rewarding for everyone. Family hiking gives parents the awesome satisfaction of knowing they are enriching their child’s life. It’s a throwback to when you were kids, or it overcomes disappointing memories you may have of not going for family hikes when you were young. Either way, you’re going to come out as a winner, whether it’s an immediate appreciation from your kids, or one that they realize more as they grow older.
These are just a few benefits of the simple and basic act of taking your family hiking. So battle through any scheduling issues, feelings of it being too much trouble, and worries that you are too busy to take this valuable time that could be spent doing something else “important.” Family hiking is more important, and priceless, than practically any obstacles that may come up.
Now that you’re positively convinced to get on the trail with kids in tow, there are definitely some things to prepare and plan for that will make your journeys much more comfortable, and in the end, enjoyable.
As nature lovers and hikers at heart, Union Creek Resort would like to present you with these essentials in an effort to help you create the most amazing, or at least very amazing, experience possible. Set along both the Upper Rogue River and Union Creek, we are located in a family-friendly hiking paradise, one that the great John Muir probably visited in his Crater Lake trips in the 1890s. We even have great hiking trails right outside our front door, we aren’t far from the famed Pacific Crest Trail, and we have waterfalls close by in every direction. This, we feel, gives us a certain expertise in the sport of hiking, and as a family-owned and operated business, we also have experience in the “family with kids” category.
Preparing for a Family Hike
- Pack right. Make sure you bring plenty of food, snacks, and lots of water.
- Be prepared. Research the trail you’ll be hiking to make sure you know directions and significant features to ensure you don’t get lost.
- Dress right. Everyone should wear practical, comfortable clothes, including the right shoes for the type of trail you’re on. Kids may push back and prefer to wear a stylish ensemble, but it’s better to be comfortable than cool (to a degree).
- Do some homework. Research what things you may see on the trail – geological, botanical, and wildlife features. This will be cool when you can show your family that you’re some kind of nature expert!
- Bring essentials. Always bring a good first aid kit, flashlight, map, phone, knife, extra clothes, and a way to make a fire.
- Bring a super special treat. Last, but not least, an easy way to help create the best memory possible is to bring a special snack or dessert your kids will always remember!
- For tips on preparing for a cold weather hike, check out our Tips for Planning for a Winter Hike.
Some final tips to make it a great hike.
- Set realistic goals. Don’t drag your crew on a rigorous, 16-mile trail with lots of elevation gains labeled “extremely difficult” in the middle of summer. Start with a mile or two hike, which will take longer than expected with kids as you stop and explore different areas.
- Focus on fun. Don’t stress about long stops or possibly not even reaching the goal. Just enjoy your family’s company, relax, and have the most fun you can.
- Take breaks. Kids can have high energy, but endurance may be a limitation. For their optimal enjoyment, they’ll need to take breaks, eat some snacks, and recharge to continue on. It’s also a great opportunity to talk with each other.
- Let kids lead. Your children will be empowered when they get their chance to be the leader on the trail. Even if they’re slower than your desired pace, it’s worth it to see them leading the pack. Just make sure everyone gets a turn!
- Leave no trace. This is a great teaching opportunity to show kids the importance of picking up all of your wrappers and trash. The forest is pristine and should be kept that way.
- Stay together. Make sure everyone in your group is within sight of each other, and have the leader wait at all trail junctions. It may seem hard to get lost on a single trail, but it can be easier than you think. And also just as easy to ensure it doesn’t happen by staying together.
- Go somewhere with something interesting for them to experience. Make sure your outing isn’t a bleak, barren trail with nothing very interesting to see. Hike along a creek, to some waterfalls, around a lake, through lava beds, or somewhere with lots of squirrels or bald eagles. Again, focus on fun!
- Combine an activity with the hike. Gather leaves, look for the perfect walking stick, or skip stones on a lake.
Enough to entice you to take the whole family into nature? We genuinely hope so, and can almost guarantee you will all have the time of your lives. You’ll take a break from technology, breathe some trendy fresh 02, and bond like never before. Muir said, “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” We believe that that new world for you is one of family togetherness in an experience you will never forget. Good luck and have an awesome time!