Don’t Make These Mistakes on Your Next Family Hike

mistakes-family-hikeFew things bring us closer together than a family hike. Assuming, that is, the hike isn’t filled with whining kids, empty stomachs and sunburns.

Daddylibrium spent part of the weekend in Nederland, Colo. hiking in the Indian Peak Wilderness area. All, miraculously, went well after some early hiccups. Live and learn … from our mistakes.

The following is a handy list of things you DON’T want to do on your next hike.

  • Forget to plan the hike in advance: What skill level is the hike in question? What does the weather report say for that specific region? Did you bring enough supplies? If you haven’t considered these questions then you might be telling your therapist about the hike someday.
  • Neglect to Invite Fellow Parents: The best way to keep your children occupied on a hike is to bring other kids along to entertain them. Yes, the noise level may drown out Mother Nature, but the kids will be so busy playing they won’t whine, “are we there yet?” Plus, you can snare some quality time with your spouse and friends.lost-lake-nederland
  • Push Your Kids Beyond Their Limits: We ended our recent hike early. We miscalculated the time it would take to reach the “Lost Lake,” and so we decided to turn back rather than finish the path. We could have pushed on, but that would have placed a big burden on our children and made the journey home a nightmare. Instead, the hike ended without tears.
  • Pack Too Little Food: A child’s stomach is a mysterious thing. Some days it needs a half dozen sandwiches to feed it. Other times it might demand little more than a Ritz cracker. Lil’ Ben showed his Mr. Hyde side during the first part of our Nederland hike. Turned out he was just “hangry,” not ornery.
  • Insist Your Children Hike at Your Pace: Adults have longer strides than kids, and we often go hiking to blast a few calories into submission. Kids have a different plan. They wanna point to all the colorful wildflowers, gawk at abandoned cabins and get their hands dirty as quickly as possible. Give them some time to explore. Chances are they’ll walk faster between stops.
  • Assume Your Kids Love Nature Like You Do: Mommylibrium remembers her parents pointing out all the gorgeous sights during the typical family hike. Now, she’s the one trying to convince our kids that tree-covered mountains are worth their attention. No sale. But don’t be discouraged. My wife grew up to love the great outdoors, something made possible by all those nature hikes. So be patient with your wee ones. Take lots of pictures and share them later when you’re back home. Before you know it, you’ll have an avid hiker or two on your hands.


  1. says

    Great points. When I can shanghai my kids to go on a hike I find that they love it, but getting there? Or getting them to remember that they enjoy hikes? That can be quite a task…

  2. says

    I don’t have kids, but I did hike as a kid. My parents were hardcore. Every summer we hiked into Packwood Lake (near Mt. Rainer) in Washington State. We stayed for nearly a week, so we had to pack in everything on our backs. This was serious hiking/camping! I loved it as a kid, even though I had to carry a load on my back.

    My parents loved it, so we loved it. They were so excited about being in nature and this really rubbed off on us kids. I still credit my parents for my love of the natural world. I haven’t done a hardcore back packing trip as an adult and don’t know if I’d risk it with kids, LOL, but I feel like the parents’ attitudes go a long way in situations such as this.

    • Christian says

      I never hiked as a kid. So the whole process seemed unnatural, ironically enough, when I did a smattering of it in college. Now, I love it and hope my boys are hooked sooner than later.

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