Any hiker, avid or casual, knows family hiking is a great bonding activity. Some of the best afternoons with families of all ages are spent on an extended ramble and young ones often enjoy the adventure most of all.
In many ways, hiking can also define a family. You can learn a lot about a potential mate while enjoying the great outdoors. For instance, you discover pretty quickly which of you is a former scout who can truss a pickup truck full of bikes and gear within an inch of its life. In the same way, you figure out right away when one partner has woefully underestimated the caloric needs of their north-of-6-foot tall hiking buddy. An expedition can get cut pretty short, pretty soon after a break for grub.
One of the most exciting experiences for a parent is introducing their children to the joys of hiking. Locales and activities such as creek side treks are sometimes more eventful than expected, however, and extra changes of clothing (including socks) become must-haves. Insufficient snacks and drinks move from amusing anecdote to serious business and should be avoided at all costs, ditto for first aid and pull-up changes.
No matter the length of the hike and the effort of the preparations, or the inverse proportions of the two, great family memories are made on hikes. The trip to the store, the loading of the gear, the thrill of the trail head and satisfying views while refueling bellies and resting boots, all help to stitch a family together. One hike generally leads to stories of hikes before and plans for bucket list excursions.
As much fun as hiking with little ones can be, these shared family outdoor experiences take on new importance as children grow into teens. Confidence and self-reliance are built-in benefits of a youth spent rambling through natural areas. Shared experiences foster a sense of connection to the nest when leave-taking begins to pull at the teenage imagination. With the wealth of state and national parks available and great sources of information and encouragement from us here at A Family Outside, unforgettable hikes are just waiting to become a part of your family history.
Now go make some memories!