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Take your kids on a great hike and they’ll develop a lifelong love of outdoor recreation and nature. Take your kids on a bad hike and they won’t want to doit again. Hiking is a great way for parents and children to spend quality time together, but you’ll need to make some extra considerations when taking your kids to the trail. Here are six tips for giving your kids the best hiking experience possible, ranging from how to choose a trail to keeping a positive attitude.

Taking your kids hiking is an excellent way to get some fresh air and exercise while enjoying quality time together. Hiking provides a major mood lift for grownups, which means you’ll be a happier parent around your kids. Spending time in nature also has a positive effect on children. Children who spend more time outside tend to be happier, more creative and less prone to hyperactivity and attention problems. You will need to give your family hike some forethought. Create a negative hiking experience and your kids won’t want to repeat it. Create a positive experience and your kids will beg to go hiking again. If you want to take your family to the trail, here are some things you should consider.

1. Always research the trail beforehand. If the hike is too strenuous for your kids, they won’t enjoy it and are unlikely to be enthusiastic about the next hike. Keep the distances appropriate for your kids’ ages. Too great distances can be tiring for smaller bodies. It’s also worth looking into how strenuous the hike is. Kids can do surprisingly well with scrambling and strenuous climbs, but some hikes might be too difficult for really young children.

2. Calculate the right amount of water to bring. This is the bottom line rule for all hikes. You will need to bring at least two liters of water per person. If children are too small to carry their own water, make sure you have a comfortable backpack so you can carry water for everyone. Take frequent water breaks and make sure your kids actually drink what they need. Kids often forget to drink, and dehydration is no joke on the trail. If you’re halfway through your hike and your child’s bottle is full, take a mandatory water break.

3. Bring kid-friendly food. Hiking is sure to work up an appetite and your kids will be much happier hikers if they have tasty food to satisfy their appetites. Bring easy-to-pack snacks such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix with chocolate chunks, or granola bars so you and your kids can keep up your energy on the trail.

4. Make sure your kids have properly fitting shoes and socks. It can be hard to spot poorly fitting shoes until it’s too late and your child’s feet are covered with blisters. Still, do your best to provide them with non-sliding socks and properly sized shoes. Otherwise, your kid will have sore feet and become very cranky, which won’t be fun for either of you. This goes for adults as well. Good shoes are key to happy hiking.

5. Picnic at a great vista point. Hikes with good picnic vista points are perfect for family hikes. Small mountains or river valleys with picturesque views often provide excellent scenery for adults and rocky playgrounds for children.

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