› Kids hiking

How to get your kids hiking?!?

Our kids have seen peaks many adults struggle to reach. We got our kids hiking by starting young and persevering. Here’s how you can too. We didn’t want to be limited to short walks while travelling around Oz. Very often, the best walks were just a little further. If you decide you’d like to take your kids on longer walks…here are some ways to make it happen.

Don’t forget the essentials! Sunscreens, hats, mozzie repellent, and a first aid kit.

Start young and build up

Start your kids walking from when they are little. Take them on short walks in national parks, where there are lots of things to see, hear and touch. They will start to experience all the wonderful reasons to hike.

Then you can start to build up the distance and difficulty, from 1km to 3kms, to 5kms and so on. At first, we used our Ergo to stretch our kids to longer walks, but only after they had walked as much as they could.

Our kids hiking in Mt Remarkables NP, SA.

Be prepared

  • Get good quality kids hiking shoes. It will extend their walking distances dramatically, and give them better stability to avoid trips and falls.
  • Pack heaps of high-energy snacks and lunch. More than you think you’ll need. It’s further to walk on little legs, and kids burn bundles of energy on long walks. Our kids loved my home-made trail mix, complete with M&Ms!
  • Take lots of water, as much as you can carry. Dehydration is dangerous and drains energy quicker than anything else.
  • Wear sun-smart shirts and long lightweight pants too. You’ll be more comfortable in the long run, and be more protected against scratches and bites.

Leave as early as you can.

If it is extra hot, leave even earlier. We pack the night before, so we can eat a quick wholesome breakfast and go. Kids are most energetic in the morning, so you might as well be walking! You can rest later, when the sun is at its hottest and everyone is knackered.

Keep them motivated

Accept that complaining comes with the territory...just try to minimise it!

Here’s what worked for us:

  • Show the kids how far they have hiked and how much longer they have to go. Use distance posts as rest stops for the kids to look out for, and as pace-setters. 
  • Use sticks or twigs to measure the length of the walk. Snap off bits of the stick for each km, or at quarter and half-way points. The kids are always so excited to get down to the last tiny bit!
  • Point out interesting things we can see, hear, smell, and touch along the way.
  • Make up long stories using characters the kids create, who are on a journey similar to your hike. Make the stories last until the next major milestone. If the kids stop walking, the story stops too.
  • Use the mantra ‘good walkers get treats’. It basically means that too much complaining means no treats at the end. Our kids would even remind each other, if they could hear a complaint starting!

3yr old James taking a break up Bluff Knoll, WA.

Celebrate their achievement

It’s so impressive to see little kids hiking. People stop and comment, and praise the kids. Use this opportunity to praise and motivate them too, they love it.

At the end of every hike, no matter how far, celebrate their success. Brag about your kids to others when they are in ear-shot. The kids realise how proud you are of them, and it makes them want to walk again next time.

This has been so effective for us, our kids still ask us to tell people what great hikers they are!

Slow and steady...

Our kids hiking improved steadily on the trip.  When they started off, at Carnarvon Gorge (Qld), they needed a little help from the Ergo. But, even then they walked a total of 8km on their first day, then 9km the next day. They blew us away with their stamina, at only 3 and 4 years old.

Their crowning glory was climbing St Mary’s Peak in the Flinders’ Ranges. They hiked unassisted for 15kms and more than eight hours without complaining. James had just turned 4, and Priya was 5. Wow-wee!

If our kids can do it, so can your kids – let them give it a try!

› Kids hiking