There was that one hike where I swear we weren’t even 10 minutes in before hearing the first “are we almost there???” whine.
Hiking with kids has to be one of the easiest ways to get kids spending time outdoors, connecting with nature. But if you’ve ever been out there with the little ones (or even bigger ones) in tow, then you’ve also probably experienced your fair share of whines and complaints. Sure, there is a lot to see – the trees, mountains, those views! It can be as mesmerizing for kids as it is for adults. But from the perspective of a kid, sometimes you just keep seeing trees and more trees. Mountains and more mountains. Trail and more trail.
Because we want the kids to continue to appreciate the experience of a hike and not think of it as something we have to do, we found ways to make it more than just an uphill walk.
Here are 8 kid-approved activities you can do while out hiking with the kids:
1. Have a picnic
Make a picnic the star of the hike. Instead of just packing up snacks and water, bring lunch too. Take your time at the summit, or anywhere along the way for a leisurely lunch.
Bonus points if they help plan and pack the picnic!
Need some ideas for trail snacks? Try these Backpacker Bars on your next hike !
2. Do A Scavenger Hunt
Along the trail, encourage kids to be on the lookout for wildlife and other forest surprises. Give them a list of things to find and let them check off their findings along the way.
3. Geocache: Uncover Hidden Treasures
When I first heard of geocaching (many years ago), it required a GPS device, which made it a little too complicated for me to want to try. But now there’s an app for that! The GPS built right into the phones we now carry everywhere we go makes it super simple!
Before setting out on the hike, check the app for any caches in the area you’ll be hiking. Be sure to respect the land and not travel off the trails unless it’s specifically stated as ok to do. (New to geocaching? Learn more here!)
Bonus: Caches can be hidden everywhere from deep in the forest to the middle of the city, so make sure you check the app for caches any time you need to keep kids entertained.
4. Relax in the Sun
A good rock, a pretty view, or even a bench along the trail can be an opportunity to take an extended break. Kick back, relax, and feel the warmth of the sunshine.
5. Play in the Water
Streams and rivers are a favorite for our kids. The second we see water, we see shoes and socks already piled up on the river bank. We used to try to move them along after playing for just a few minutes, but found it’s better to just let them play for a bit!
6. Take Pictures
We have ended up with a small collection of old digital cameras and smartphones that we would give to the kids to take their own pictures when they were younger. They now have their own phones or cameras, so we each take our own pictures along the way. Sometimes we’ll do themes – wildlife, trees, or pictures from unique perspectives.
The photos collected are a fun way to look back on the day’s adventures.
7. Play Games
You probably have your family favorites, but our two favorites are “You Don’t See That Everyday!” and “Going on a Picnic.”
You Don’t See That Everyday is more of an activity (no one really wins in this game). Anyone can call out “you don’t see that everyday!” whenever they see something new and different. On the way home it gives us a way to remember all the cool things we saw that day.
Going on a Picnic starts with the first person saying “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing [something that starts with the letter A].” The next person says the same line, including the item that starts with A, but also adds something that starts with the letter B. Continue along the alphabet, going as far into the alphabet as you can. The game ends when someone can’t recall the full list.
8. Or Even Just Talk
The great thing about a hike is that there is little distraction out on the trails. This means time that you can focus on the family without getting distracted by cooking, work, or texts.
If your kid isn’t much of a talker, prep ahead of time with a few questions and other conversation topics in case one doesn’t trigger much conversation.
We’d love to hear about your favorite things to do on a hike in the comments!