Hiking with kids can be enjoyable for all with these tips, tricks, and trail recommendations. It might feel overwhelming to take your kids hiking, but there are great ways to stay successful.
I try to balance some healthier foods like with some things they love. Here are some ideas: Dum-Dum suckers, apple slices, peeled clementines, grapes, trail mix, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, crackers, beef jerky, granola bars, fruit snacks or fruit rolls, suckers, etc. We also bring plenty of water and sometimes sports drinks. Be sure to pack out all trash, even organic things like fruit peels and cores.
Invite Friends or Family
Everything is better with buddies and that includes hiking. We will often invite neighbors or cousins to join us on the hike and the kids have so much fun hanging out with their friends they forget to complain.
Kids love to play games. With older kids we make up a scavenger hunt, play 20 Questions, or Would You Rather? Let them choose poses or favorite places or where you can take their photo. Kids love picking up sticks or rocks to carry or for me to take a photo. With my toddlers or preschoolers we play games like “I Spy” or count how many (wildflowers, butterflies, or other things we see). They also love chants and we make up verses for where we are hiking. “
“We’re going on a bear hunt.We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen
We’re going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.
Uh-oh! Grass! (or rocks, trees, sand, etc)
Long wavy grass.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it!
Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!”
People thrive when they feel needed. Let kids take turns leading the way or helping a sibling. When one of my sons was young he would never want to hold my hand, even on steep terrain, unless I asked him to help me get up this hard part. As soon as he thought he was doing it to help me, he was eager to help. Let them help prepare of pass out snacks, or other ways to contribute.
Hiking, especially with kids, you’ll want to be prepared for taking longer than you expect or needing a Band-aid or extra water. Bring jackets if it might get cold or hats or sunglasses to keep the sun out of their eyes. Sometimes I have kids carry their own packs or water bottle and sometimes I help carry most things. Here are some things I have in my pack:
Band-Aids, sunscreen, bug spray, kleenex, extra snacks, extra water, flashlight
I am not above bribery. Sometimes I know I’m losing them and offer a Slurpee or other prize for continuing on with cheerful hearts. It doesn’t always work, but it often works wonders.
Pose for photos
Even my kids who run away when I pull out my camera like finding or making a cool photo on a hike. That might be finding a cool pose or spot.
Kids can hike further than you think if you go slow and give them a chance to rest.
The Destination Isn’t Set in Stone
It’s okay if you don’t complete a hike. Sometimes the kids are just too tired or grumpy to keep hiking happily. It isn’t often, but sometimes it’s best just to turn around and try again another day. Don’t get too discouraged if this happens.
Go and Have Fun
Just go and have fun! If you haven’t hiked with kids before, start with something easy, under a mile. Once you’ve had success you’ll feel more confident to go again. A little complaining is natural, but they can do awesome things!
Hike Recommendations with Kids – *favorites
Northern Utah (county location)
Lisa Falls – 0.3 miles (Salt Lake)
Rocky Mouth Falls – 0.7 miles (Salt Lake)
Silver Lake, Brighton – 0.9 miles (Salt Lake)
Miller Park & Bonneville Glen – 0-1 mile (Salt Lake)
Jungle Trail – 1.0 mile (Salt Lake)
Neff’s Canyon Loop – 0-1.2 miles (Salt Lake)
Cecret Lake – 1.7 miles (Salt Lake)
Gloria Falls – 2.4 miles (Salt Lake)
Telegraph Trail – 1.8 miles (Salt Lake)
Grotto Falls – 0.6 miles (Utah)
Dripping Rock Falls – 0.7 miles (Utah)
Cascade Springs – 0.8 miles (Utah)
Buffalo Peak – 0.9 miles (Utah)
Battle Creek Falls – 1.6 miles (Utah)
Birdsong Trail – 1.2 miles (Weber)
Southern Utah (county location)
Jenny’s Canyon – 0.6 miles (Washington)
Pioneer Park – 0-1 miles (Washington)
Petrified Sand Dunes – 0-2 miles (Washington)
Anasazi Valley Trail -1.2 miles (Washington)
Hidden Haven Waterfall – 1.4 miles (Iron)
Sand Dune Arch – 0.3 miles (Grand)
Mesa Arch – 0.6 miles (Grand)
Belly of the Dragon – 0.4 miles (Kane)
Bryce Point Trail – 0.2 miles (Garfield)
Hickman Bridge – 1.8 miles (Wayne)
Goblin Valley – 0-2 miles (Emery)
Click here for more great trails to try with kids!
For more hikes check out these lists:
Accessible Hikes (great with strollers)
Easy Utah Hikes Under a Mile
Easy Utah Hikes Over a Mile Long
Favorite Moderate Hikes in Northern Utah