Is the great outdoors calling your family, but you’re thinking about meltdowns and scraped knees? Spending time outside has almost unlimited benefits, and exercise is one of the great regulators. It is possible to go for a family hike that doesn’t end in disaster.
Where to Go
Finding the right trail or park can make all the difference. Start with exploring city trails. They are often groomed (or paved), have lots of benches, garbages, and even the occasional bathroom or water fountain. Social media is full of local outdoor groups that can get you in the right place. Choose a trail that fits your abilities, and stay on the path.
In Canada, Provincial Parks are another great option, although a permit is required. Good news: you can ‘check out’ a permit from most libraries. Maps of the hiking trails are available through the Tourism Saskatchewan Website. There are 24 Parks that offer hiking trails in Saskatchewan, plus the Trans Canada Trail. Before solidifying your plan, check the weather forecast!
Another tip: study up on poisonous or irritating plants and bugs. Water hemlock might look harmless, but it can be dangerous if ingested. Many berries and flowers that you see are not edible for humans. In general, it’s best to leave no trace that you’ve been there.
What to Pack + Wear
Like a good Scout or Guide, it’s all about being prepared. Give everyone a bag, but don’t fill it full. You want to save room for ‘treasures’ while still keeping the bag under 5% of their total weight. Here’s a list of hiking essentials:
Shoes with bendable soles
Sunscreen, bug repellent **lots of non-spray options such as stickers and bracelets
Snacks. So many snacks.
Basic first aid kit
Wet wipes or tissues
Binoculars, magnifying glass
Safety whistles (one for each person)
Make it Fun (Really)
Now the hard part: how to make the hike enjoyable - for everyone. Here are some final tips to set you to full 'hero' status:
Use a scavenger hunt as your guide. Find an item for each colour of the rainbow, or try to spell your name with pieces of nature (remember to leave no trace that you've been there).
Change up the ways you move. Start with walking forwards, then backwards, then taking GIANT steps. How many ways can you move?
Follow the leader - but take turns being the head of the group.
Take lots of breaks. Remember, you brought all the snacks.
Remind yourself that it's about the journey, not the KMs. You might only make it 10 minutes before discovering a colony of ants that they HAVE to watch for 46 minutes).
Practice makes perfect. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. Channel all the analogies and cliche quotes you need to get through!
What are your favourite kid friendly hikes? Leave them in the comments.