Tips for Safe and Enjoyable Family Hikes

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Fall is a the perfect time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. A family hike is a great way to get everyone moving and partake in some lively conversation. Here are some smart tips on hiking with children from John McKinney. John is the author of numerous  books about hiking, parklands and nature, including The Hiker’s Way: Hike Smart. Live Well. Go Green.

1. Keep your children in sight at all times. That may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how fast kids can get off the trail.

2. Repeat and repeat again all instructions ranging from snack breaks to porta-potty locations.

3. Choose a hike with fairly modest elevation gains. Children prefer intimate settings, such as a little creek or a clump of boulders to those vast scenic panoramas favored by adults.

4. Feed the Troops. Begin with a nourishing breakfast. Carry plenty of quick-energy snack foods and offer them frequently. (By the time kids tell you’re they’re hungry, they’re often already cranky and out of energy and enthusiasm.)

5. Supplement The Ten Essentials with extra snack foods, whistles (in case you and your child become separated), a book or toy for the drive to and from the trailhead.

6. Check your child’s temperature. While you’d think that kids would tell you if they’re too cold or too hot, they usually don’t. Dress them in layers and be sure to add or subtract clothing in response to changing weather conditions.

7. Teach respect for nature. Enjoy but don’t disturb flowers, plants and animals.

8. Environmental education is easy and fun on the trail, so be sure to pack a good trail guide or nature guidebook and visit park interpretive centers.

9. When children travel in groups, the kids motivate each other to go farther and faster. And there’s lots less whining.

10. If young spirits sag, try playing games to regain good humor and maintain that all-important forward progress up the trail. With younger children, “play dog;” that is to say, throw an imaginary stick to the next tree en route and have them fetch it. “One-two-three-jump” is another popular game. With a parent holding each hand the child hikes along one-two-three steps, then jumps as parents raise arms and swing the hopefully-no-longer reluctant little hiker into the air. I Spy is another favorite trail game: “I spy with my little eye something that is….(fill in the blank).


Real Kids Shades recommends that you make that you and your children have quality sun protection when you hike. The entire family should wear hats, sun block and sunglasses with 100% UVA & UVB protection.

All our glasses will fit the criteria for safe sun protection, but hikers will especially love the hip and outdoorsy look of our Xtreme Sports sunglasses.

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