Sunny summer months are a great time to take your family for a hike through God’s beautiful creation. The kids may have a break from school, but that doesn’t mean your next family hike can’t be a learning experience. Here are just a few tips to encourage your child to explore and learn by combining his or her natural curiosity with outdoor fun.
Work out the details ahead of time to so the day can be more relaxing and fun for everyone.
- Call the park or check the trail website to get the low-down on distances and difficulty level. Choose a trail that will accommodate the entire family.
- Consider the trail’s final destination—a waterfall or wading pool at the end is a rewarding treat on a hot summer day.
- Research the trail so you can talk about the area’s history as you hike. Did American Indians ever live there? Does the trail pass through a battlefield, along a key trade route, or near an old settlement? History becomes much more personal and real when you are walking on the ground it was made on.
On the Trail
Be prepared to see wildlife on the trail. The types of wildlife you’ll see on the trail vary widely depending on which part of the country you’re in.
- Ask your child what kinds of animals he expects to find on the trail.
- Ask a park ranger what to look for before starting.
- Make a game of seeing how many different kinds of animals each of you can find—bugs optional.
- Take your time. If you or your child sees an animal or a lovely view, stop and enjoy it. Make some observations about any animal you see. What does it look like? What does it eat? Where does it live? If you find an animal that’s not too skittish or is slow (like a turtle), your child could try making a quick sketch.
- Take along our printable hiking trail journal to help your children jot down their learning experiences as they go.
Don’t let the summer pass you by without getting outside and enjoying nature. With a little creativity, a hike through the countryside can be a memorable, meaningful experience for both you and your child.
What trails do you recommend?