If you live in an area of the country where “fall” equals colorful foliage, right about now the leaves on the trees are starting to put on the most magical show of the year. Before they all fall to the ground, take the kids on a hike to enjoy the scenery!
If you don’t already have a favorite spot, a simple Google search for “best fall foliage in your state here” should turn up plenty of options. Read the reviews and choose a hike that is a length, degree of difficulty and distance from home that everyone in the family can handle. After all, your 6-year old is not going to be happy on a 10-mile trek described as “vertical” or “difficult,” especially after a two-hour drive.
Footwear & Apparel
Make sure everyone has supportive shoes with good treads, if not proper hiking shoes, and dresses for unpredictable weather. The pretty surroundings won’t matter if someone is too cold or too hot. Breathable fabrics, or those that wick away moisture, will keep your hikers happy and comfortable. And bring hats to ward off rain or strong sun.
Motivation & Engagement
Not every child is a hiker, so while some children will bound up the face of a mountain with glee, for others a hike can be a bummer. To avoid grumpy hikers, present everyone with a fun challenge or project. Whether it’s seeing how many different birds they can spot, collecting the largest variety of fallen leaves, or searching for little critters, they will forget they’re walking and enjoy themselves.
Snack and More Snacks
Be sensitive to when kids might need a break, and pack plenty of snacks and Tickle Water to recharge and refresh along the way. After all, hungry and thirsty hikers are unhappy hikers! And unless you’re okay dragging along lunch for everyone, plan ahead and seek out a nearby restaurant for a big post-hike meal.
Just in Case
Keep moleskin for blisters, bug spray, sunscreen, band-aids and antibacterial solution readily available in someone’s pack. Also, make sure at least one phone is fully charged– for photo opps and for navigation. Reception could be limited, so bring a compass and grab a map at the ranger’s station before the hike in case you get distracted by nature’s beauty and lose the trail.