Tip for Hiking with Kids: Get a Guide!

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If you’ve read Christopher McDougall’s national best selling book “Born To Run”  or “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer, you’ve likely come across the idea that no one really teaches us how to run when we are kids.  We just go out and start playing and running is a part of that.  Later on in life, if we take the time to learn about form, posture, stride, etc. it can make a significant difference in our speed, endurance and reduce injuries.  Well just like running, hiking–especially hiking with kids–is one area where we can do just fine without proper “training”, but a little insights can spare us from troubled trips, tantrums, and tired tykes.
With that in mind, we wanted to share two resources that offer insights into tried and tested knowledge of parents who’ve been there and done that.  They offer insights that go beyond the everyday obvious and point out some of the simple, common sense things that we think we know, but can easily overlook.  Two recent books we’ve read on these topics are Rob Bignell’s “Hikes With Tykes”s and “Hiking and Backpacking with Kids” by Molly Absolon.  (insert images of the books???)

Rob Bignell’s new book offers a great resource to those just getting started.  He often speaks of  discovering the joys of a simple hikes and discovery right near his home.  He hiked all over before, but never explored the trail, just down the street.  Wanting to spend time with his son, he started taking him out on hike at least once a week and has shared insights
A Practical Guide to Dayhiking with Kids.  The strong points of this guide are in that it is just as the subtitle says, practical.  Bignell’s packed it full of facts, suggestions, activities, safety considerations and just as important, where not to go and what not to take.   He’s compiled a simple to use guide.  A few of the lists and forms may be overkill, but they go to show that he’s covered his bases and has provided a thorough resource to parents wanting to take their kids outdoors.
Great tips and tricks for activities, games and suggestions and insights from parents all over the country are scattered throughout the book.
If your looking for a step beyond a beginner’s guide, Hiking and Backpacking with Kids epitomizes the Bring The Kids philosophy.  Molly Absolon takes us into her world of outdoor life before kids and how she couldn’t stop.  She has all the same fears that many first time parents has, but then plows right ahead and keeps on getting out with her young kids.  To show you how she’s not messing around, the book even covers washing your baby’s diapers in the backcountry!  Now that’s not for the faint of heart.
Her simple book goes from the beginning with infants, through all phases of your child’s life.  Additionally, it includes simple day hikes, to overnight trips, to multi-day backpacking trips and extended international trips.  We were fired up in our desires to travel far and wide, especially going on international trips with the kids.  Other great parts are her thoughts on getting the kids involved in the planning process and the activities and fun had a long the way.
So why get a kids hiking guide book? 
Coming at it from two separate sides, here two reasons you might consider a kid’s hiking guide worth your while.
  1.  For experienced hikers – a guide can help you to not overstep your child’s abilities base on your own expectations or desires.  They put in perspective the realities of going at kids paces rather than biting off more than you or your child can handle.  Don’t ruin a lifetime of exploring the great outdoors from one bad experience for your kids as in this post (muddy creek).
  2. For the novice hiker – use a guides to get up to speed for your kids.  You may have done many hikes on your own or just want to start getting out. Familiarizing yourself with practical “how to’s” of the trail will give you the confidence you need to get out there and start your kids off on their hiking adventures.
This whole month’s Bring The Kids hiking series is all about getting out with your kids.  Guides are just one more resources that can help you be more prepared, reduce your stress and make the most out of your time with your kids.
A little bit of coaching or guiding could be one great investment in helping you to get out and enjoy your hikes!
To help you get out on more adventures with your kids, Rob Bignell has offered to give one of our readers a copy of his book Hikes with Tykes, or Hikes with Tykes: Activities and Games.

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  • hey guys Choose the Right Trail:This is the most important part of your wilderness experience. Do your research and choose an appropriate trail. Last summer, I took my eight-year-old daughter backpacking twice. The first trail was perfect: 3.5 miles with gradual ascent to a high alpine lake. The spot also afforded great day hiking to other lakes. For the second trip, I chose a four mile trail thinking she could handle it. Unfortunately, I did not do my homework. It was four miles of serious altitude climbing. It was a challenge, and she did it, but there was lots of whining involved.

    • bringthekids says:

      Good point John. Doing your homework with kids always pays off. It’s especially important to remember that most hike ratings are for adults so a medium difficulty hike is likely more in the hard range for kids. Thanks for the reminder!

  • robert1 says:

    A key element to incorporate when preparing to backpack with children starts by going on several day hikes with them. Before we even considered an overnight trip we wanted to be sure that they could enjoy 2-3 mile hikes and 2-3 hours on the trail. Spending lots of time outdoors day hiking gave our children the chance to experience being out in the woods, a few consecutive hours walking, and, most especially, it gave us the sense of how they’d function as backpackers.

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