Hiking is the Number 1 activity in Hocking Hills. With the unique rock formations, lush foliage, and incredible vistas, it’s not hard to see why. Hiking is an excellent activity and great source of exercise for the whole family, but hiking with kids is often a special challenge all on its own.
Here are 9 tips for how to survive…and enjoy…a hiking trip with kids.
Pick the right hiking route
Choose a route that will be fun and adventurous, but that is also doable for everyone in your group. Hocking Hills State Park has several trails for hikers of all abilities, and they all have unique features like recess caves and waterfalls. If this is your first time hiking with the whole family, try picking an easy trail as a test run before you commit to one that might take an hour or more. Also, plan on the hike taking twice as much time as you would normally expect.
Have a safety talk
Before setting out, spend some time talking to your kids about hiking safety. In particular, emphasize the importance of staying together as a group and of not eating berries, mushrooms, or anything else they find in the wild. Give the kids a whistle that is to be used only if they find themselves separated from the group or in some other kind of trouble.
Check the weather report and bring clothing for whatever conditions the day may bring including rain. The operative word here is layers. It’s also a good idea to have a change of clothes and shoes for the kids in the car, because, let’s face it, they’ll probably get dirty.
Pack a first aid kit
A basic kit should include sunscreen, bug spray, cream for bug bites, allergy medicine, Band-Aids, tweezers to remove splinters, and Children’s Tylenol.
Pack plenty of water and snacks
Nutrition and hydration are important for the whole party, but kids have a harder time staying positive when they’re hungry. Often, some trail mix or even a piece of fruit can make the difference between cranky kids and happy kids.
Bring wet wipes!
Guaranteed, you’ll need ‘em.
If you are going on a longer hike, take plenty of breaks. This will increase the chances that you won’t have to carry your kids on the way back.
Be prepared to adjust your expectations. Remember that the important thing is quality family time and teaching your children to appreciate the beauty of nature. You might not reach the end of the trail—you might not make it very far at all—and that’s okay.
Make it fun
Your kids are probably not as interested in the scenery as you are. Games can give them something fun to do (and perhaps help them not notice how long they’ve been walking). Here are some fun ideas for hiking scavenger hunts.
If you haven’t yet planned your hiking trip to Hocking Hills this summer, now’s the time! Check our Specials page for great rates on rental cabins.