It’s hard to imagine a more wholesome family activity than hiking. Exploring the outdoors boosts physical and mental health, promotes creativity and calms stress, says Heidi Magi, lead teacher at Pioneer Springs Community School, a nature-based public charter school in Charlotte.
“As a middle school teacher at a nature school, I see the ways in which a deep connection to nature helps kids feel more grounded in the world,” Magi says. “Studies show that because the natural world is less structured than the electronic and indoor worlds that children spend time in, time in nature tends to increasing creativity, self-confidence and imagination.”
Ready to get moving? From choosing baby’s first trail to motivating hesitant hikers and keeping kids safe, here’s what you need to know at every stage.
The first step (pun intended) toward happy hiking with tots is making sure they’re safe and comfortable.
“When planning a hike, a helpful general rule to remember is that a child can hike about as many miles as their age in years,” says avid hiker and wilderness educator Dr. Douglas S. Diekema, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Seattle Children’s, a hospital and pediatric research medical center. Young children are more at risk for heat and cold injury than adults, so parents should bring an extra layer for children to