It’s no secret that our family loves to hike. I mean, that’s kind of our thing. We’ve been hiking with our kids since Ava, our oldest, was just over a year old. In the last 5ish years, our kids have hit over 100 trails across America. We continue encouraging our children to hike because they learn tons of valuable skills and information on the trails. Here are my 10 reasons to hike with your kids when they are young. Let’s dive in!
1. They Learn Leadership Skills
As I mentioned in my post on tips for hiking with kids, we like to switch up line leaders when we’re on the trail. This isn’t so my husband and I can take turns, it’s for our children. When our kids are leading our pack, we let them take the reins and truly be a leader.
When we come to a fork in the trail, they are the ones to decide which way we go. If there is a particularly knotty root in the way, they are in charge of informing the group to watch out.
If you hike with your kids when they are young, the leadership skills gained from simple exercises like this spill over into other areas of their lives. They will feel more confident taking the lead in school and around their peers because they already know they are an excellent leader.
2. They Learn The Joy Of Discovering New Things
One of the main reasons we choose to bring scavenger hunts on the trails with us is because it encourages our kids to look harder at their surroundings. Instead of walking blindly through nature, they are really taking their time to see what’s around them.
Sometimes, they get lucky and find things that aren’t on their scavenger hunt list, but are still really exciting. The coolest things our kids have found on the trails are painted rocks, petroglyphs, and the shell of a fallen airplane.
Cool finds like this are exciting for everyone. They add a whole new level to the hiking experience. Even better is that these discoveries make your children excited about hitting the trails the next time around. Our kids are always in a friendly competition to find the coolest thing on our hikes.
3. They Learn About Plants and Wildlife
I’m sure you have been on a trail at some point in your life that had different signs posted up about the area. If you decide to hike with your kids while they are young, don’t sleep on the chance to read them these signs (or encourage them to practice their reading skills).
Not only will the break be great for their little legs to recharge, but those signs are full of information. Your children will have the unique opportunity for a hands on learning experience every time you stop to read those signs. The information is more likely to stick with them if they are seeing it first hand so next time you pass one by, consider stopping to read it together.
4. They Learn About History
Another great benefit of the trail signs are the wealth of historical information they discuss. Just like learning about the plants and wildlife, your children will have a front row ticket to history. Between learning how old trees in the region are and how different settlers came across the area, the whole family will be in for a learning experience.
It is important to start reading these signs on your hike with your kids while they are young because they will learn to appreciate the facts. They will be more likely to continue this habit as they get older and in turn learn a ton of new information.
5. They Learn Navigational Skills
This skill goes hand in hand with the first reason to hike with your kids when they are young. When your child is leading the group, they will learn to pay attention to which direction they are going so they can navigate back home.
The older your children get, the more time you can spend teaching them about using natural cues to point toward the right direction. Surely you know about the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. Teach your kid how to use this and similar cues to navigate the trails.
6. They Get An Excellent Exercise
If your kids are anything like mine, they can run a million circles around you before you’ve even downed your first cup of coffee. Why not put that energy to good use and hit the trails?
Even if the hikes you take your kids on don’t have a significant incline or aren’t very long, there are still benefits. Your kids are improving their stamina and increasing their core and leg strength. Also, they are going to nap SOOOO hard later in the day and what parent doesn’t love that?!
7. They Learn How To Respect The Environment
This is definitely in my top 2 favorite reasons to hike with your kids when they are young. There is nothing more important than our children learning to respect the environment. Especially in this day and age.
When you instill this awareness in them at a young age, they will grow up knowing it is not right to litter and be more likely to clean up if they see something out of place. Trust me when I say, it is so heartwarming watching your 5 year old pick up a plastic bottle out of a river because they know it doesn’t belong.
8. They Become More Confident On Their Own 2 Feet
Obviously the more your child walks, the more confident they will become with walking. When you hike with your kids when they are young, they will learn how to traverse on a wide array of terrain. So not only will they be confident walking on flat ground, they will become confident on rocky and muddy ground as well.
This is definitely a skill that takes a while to master, but will super beneficial in other aspects of their life. Even things like climbing on the play structure at the park will start to become easier for them the more you take them out for hikes.
9. They Learn Communication Skills
In addition to leadership and navigational skills, you’re littles will learn how to effectively communicate in different scenarios. This is true for both communicating with your group and fellow hikers on the trail.
When your child is leading and navigating, they will have to clearly communicate what is coming up and what direction you are going. When encountering another hiking party, they will learn how to be polite and ask if they would like to pass if you’re moving at a slower pace.
Again, this is a skill that your child will be able to use in all areas of their life. From communicating with their peers, teacher, and even you, the skills they learn on the trail will be of value.
10. They Learn To Keep Going When The Going Gets Tough
This is my absolute favorite reason to hike with your kids when they are young! We have taken our kids on some pretty physically challenging trails. Of course we knew it was within their limits before going for it so they were able to conquer the whole thing. Either way, our 5 year old has scaled some pretty tall mountains.
Every time she gets to the top, we make sure to celebrate like no other. It’s not always pretty getting to the top, but the feeling of accomplishment your kids will have will radiate for days. You can then apply this concept of keeping going when other things in life get tough.
For example, whenever our daughter is having a hard time with a new gymnastics move, we remind her that she has climbed to the top of Koko Head. If she can climb to the top of a mountain, she can do anything! I will continue to remind both of my kids of their strengths so they will always have the courage to push forward. Even when the going gets tough.
Go Hike With Your Kids When They Are Young!!
That wraps up my 10 reasons to hike with your kids while they are young. As you can see, hiking is more than just walking through the woods. Your kids will learn both life skills and facts about nature each time you take them on a trail. Our kids have got to the point where they ask US to go for a hike because they want to find something new. I can only hope my posts inspire you to enrich your kids lives in the same way.
As always, please share this post if you love what you’ve read or think a friend will love it too. Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list below to stay up to date on my latest posts. Follow me on social for some fun behind the scenes photos and stories. Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our adventures out in Our Happy Place 🙂