By Roger Lohr
There’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors than hiking on a trail alone or with your friends or family. Whether you are a first time hiker or a walking aficionado, hiking with the family provides quality time together, allows the family to grow closer, develops life-long memories, and introduces the next generation to the outdoors. It’s no wonder that nationally more than 34 million people went hiking in the year 2013 and that has remained somewhat consistent in the last few years.
You don’t need to walk very far to experience the joys of being outdoors with your kids or grandkids. It’s about discovery and having fun. For parents taking their kids on a hike, it is recommended that the child’s early experiences be positive, so avoid a fixed goal to reach a favorite spot or the top of the mountain. Keep it simple by being flexible and adaptive to make sure the younger ones have a good time.
Perhaps short hikes at first near home or a local park will provide a positive experience. Bring a snack, water, and invite your kid’s playmate. They can find joy in clouds, flowers, tadpoles, splashing water, getting dirty, colorful bugs, etc. but you don’t want the kids to get sunburned, hungry, thirsty, or exhausted.
Safety and Other Considerations on a Hike
Be careful of rocks, rubble, brush piles, or fallen logs where kids might lose their footing, sprain an ankle, or take a fall. Tell kids not to drink the stream water or eat berries or mushrooms and the rule with poison ivy, oak, and sumac is “leaves of three, let it be.” Be wary of places where bees and wasps might nest.
Wearing bright clothing is a good idea so you are easy to see and find if lost. Layer clothing and be prepared for weather changes. Synthetic clothing (such as a capilene shirt or a pile jacket) is lighter, a good insulator, and dries faster. Socks and supportive boots are important. Traditionally hiking socks were made of heavy wool, but more recently socks are commonly made of a variety of materials that provide warmth, durability and keep your feet dry. Hiking boots are not required but they can help kids feel like an explorer.
A list of items that could be useful on the trail includes: signal device (whistle, mirror), water bottle, emergency blanket, map, compass, flashlight (with spare battery and bulb), extra food, extra clothing, sunglasses, sunblock, insect repellent, knife, waterproof matches, fire-starter or candle and a first aid kit.
If you think that you are lost try to retrace your course rather than continuing on in an effort to reach some destination. An emergency call consists of three short audible or visible calls repeated at regular intervals. Use a whistle for making noise and a mirror or smoke puffs during the day. At night, use a flashlight or small bright fires to signal.
You may consider leaving your dog at home if he or she cannot be kept under control. Respect the privacy of residents that live along the trail unless there is an emergency and you desperately need help.
Leave No Trace
Find full descriptions of hiking destinations in the northeast at xcskiresorts.com/hot-topics.php.
- 1,000 acres of wilderness at Bolton Valley Resort.
- There are over 15 miles of hiking trails at Killington Resort, Vermont’s second tallest peak. It offers 360º views of Vermont’s Green Mountains, New York’s Adirondacks, and New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
- Smugglers’ Notch Resort creates many opportunities for guided and self-guided hiking for all ages.
- There are over 60 kilometers of wooded hiking trails for all levels of ability at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.
- From the Woodstock Inn & Resort, choose from more than 60 miles of interconnected trails and pathways that wind through the Woodstock Village, nearby meadows and woodlands, scenic vistas, and rural countryside.
Additional places to find hiking information for others states are as follows
Hike-NH is a great place to find general information on hiking in New Hampshire, primarily in the White Mountain Region. There is a list of 4000 foot peaks, AMC huts system, discussion boards, newsletters, and hiking at hike-nh.com/.
NY, ME and MA Hikes. Find the best hikes in New York, Maine, and Massachusetts, including detailed trail maps, guides, trail descriptions, Points of Interest (POIs) and GPS tracks/GPX data at EveryTrail. The websites per state are: everytrail.com/best/hiking-new-york, everytrail.com/best/hiking-maine, and everytrail.com/best/hiking-massachusetts.
Another very thorough website for hiking in MA can be found at http://1.usa.gov/1rYIUQt.