Take a Hike
Hiking is a simple outdoor activity that does not require much equipment and can be done just about anywhere. You do not have to trek up a mountain to enjoy hiking together as a family – it’s all about exploring the world around you and getting a bit of exercise too!
See what you and your family can discover together by checking out our hiking tips below. Whether you want to stick close to home, or take the path less traveled, we can help make sure your experience is fun and safe!
What You Will Need:
- Snacks and drinks that pack and keep well (nuts, bars, fruit, sandwiches)
- Weather-appropriate clothing. Bring extra layers for warmth and waterproofing.
- Sturdy closed-toed shoes with good grip
- Water bottle
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Map of area
- Basic first aid kit (Top 10 things to pack here!)
Share Your Experience to Earn a Hiking Badge!
All you need to do is log into or sign up for your own WILD Family Nature Club account! Snap a picture on your next family hike and upload it to the Gallery, or share your own hiking tips with others on the Discussions page to earn a digital Hiking Badge.
Home Base Exploring
Not ready to head out on the trails? No problem! Go on an exploratory journey around your house, yard, or a nearby quiet back lane.
Plan a route! Have kids draw a map of your backyard or neighbourhood and lead your family on a guided hike. Encourage them to plan “sightseeing” spots and point out interesting things they find in nature. Be creative!
Pretend that you are tracking an animal or trying to find a waterfall. Look for clues that might help you reach your goal. Where does that animal like to hide? What do its footprints look like? You’ll be surprised what you and your young ones can discover nearby when you are really looking.
- Dress the part! Have a special piece of clothing that shows it’s hiking time like a hat, special shirt, or something totally goofy.
- Try some fun DIY props like binoculars made from toilet paper rolls or a magnifying glass cut from curved pieces of plastic pop bottle.
- If you are at home, add some ambiance by playing nature sounds on a computer or phone if available, such as these Canadian Forest sounds.
- Make it interactive! Turn your hike into a scavenger hunt by hiding clues around the area ahead of time – stuffed animals, toys, you name it
A Walk in the Park
If you are ready to take your hike to a local park or greenspace, read on! Hiking further from home means preparing for changes in weather, and managing your energy and comfort with snacks, drinks, and maybe insect repellant.
Hiking in a new environment is a great way to see nature from a different perspective. Lie on the ground and view the world through a bug’s eye or flip over and gaze at the clouds in the sky. What sorts of things do you see, hear or smell? When you use all your senses to be fully present even a familiar place can feel new again!
- Scout out your location before you go. Get kids involved in helping you pick out a location or trail and select a family-friendly site that fits your time requirements and abilities.
- Check the weather in advance and dress appropriately.
- Pick the right time of day to go. Aim for a time of day when the weather is pleasant, and kids are well rested. A cranky, sleepy kid makes for a bad hiker!
- Be a great trail companion to all you encounter! Respect other trail and park users be they hikers, cyclists, or wildlife. Appreciate that the area is for everyone to enjoy.
- Make sure to follow Leave No Trace principals by disposing of any trash, leftover food and litter properly on site, or taking it home with you.
- Keep an eye on kids and make sure they always stay within eyesight.
- Enhance your hike by combining it with other activities like picnicking, geocaching or birding!
- If you have very young children, and the trail is accessible, consider bringing a stroller or wagon in case the kids need a break from walking.
- Not sure what to pack for a day hike? Check out this checklist from REI.
If you are up for more of a walk, a longer hike can lead to amazing discovery, as well as great feelings of accomplishment. If you are headed out for a whole day, or overnight trip, you will want to make sure you are prepared with meals, weather appropriate clothing, and other equipment for your safety and comfort. Are there BBQ pits? Do you need to bring a camping stove? See our camping page for some more tips!
With a bit of planning, hiking in far-flung places can be a very rewarding experience, and you probably won’t miss the luxuries of the city at all!
- Before you go, learn about the history of the land, including Indigenous Peoples of the area, wildlife you might expect to see, or how the land was formed. This will enrich your experience and give you some things to look out for and talk about on the trail.
- Be safe! Bring along a map of the trail so you know where you are going and share your plans with a friend or family member so they know when you expect to be back.
- While hiking, the weather can change quickly, so dress the kids in layers and pack a warm jacket in your backpack in case the temperature drops.
- Have kids carry some of their own gear and assign roles to include them: leader (walks ahead looking for trail markers) or cheerleader to encourage everyone.
- Bring lots of snacks and water. Consider a special treat during or after the hike, such as a lollipop on the trail or stopping for ice cream on the way home!
- Plan frequent breaks at interesting features such as water bodies, rocks, trees, wildlife, stairs, and other interactive elements. Take time to play, talk about what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling, and of course have snacks and water too!
- Play some games on the trail to keep things exciting. How many steps to get to that tree? Find something from every colour of the rainbow. Check out more great ideas here.
- Be prepared for bathroom breaks. Learn how to go to the bathroom outdoors, and make sure to explain the mechanics of it all to your kids in advance so they know what to expect.
- Watch out for signs of dwindling energy. Try to start hikes early – there will be less people and you will all have more energy.
- Do your research to be “wildlife smart” – wildlife and plants vary across Canada and some can be dangerous to humans. A good basic rule is that animals generally want to avoid people – so give them lots of space.
Continue to Pick Up a Paddle »
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