Hiking with children and watching the little ones discovering their new surroundings is great fun. To make a family hike an untroubled experience for everyone, there are – depending on the age of the children – some things to consider.
Even the youngest children can go on a hike together with you - in a baby carrier. However, since they can hardly move in it and are fully exposed to the weather, regular breaks are necessary.
The route should not exceed a total duration of three to four hours. The person carrying the child must be able to cope with the conditions of the trail not to endanger the safety of the child.
As soon as children are a little older, they like to explore their surroundings independently. Trees and rocks, forest playgrounds and small streams are perfect for keeping the little ones happy. Exposed and too steep paths are a taboo. In total, the hiking route should not take longer than four hours.
Familiy hiking in Austria
Photo: ikarus.cc, CC BY, Steiermark Tourismus
At this age, both stamina and condition of the children increase. Longer hikes of up to five hours are possible. Steeper parts and climbing passages can be handled with appropriate practice and assistance.
Often, these children already have quite good stamina, their physical strength increases and the movements are harmonious.
With appropriate hiking experience, even multi-day routes with an overnight stay in a hut can be planned. Here too, an overall walking time of six to seven hours should not be exceeded.
Touring in the Austrian Alps
Photo: Johannes Puch, www.johannespuch.at, CC BY, Bad Kleinkirchheim, flickr.com
Equipment for hiking with children
When hiking with children, make sure you bring enough food and have the right equipment.
A sufficient drinking supply (children drink about 1.5 to 2 times more than adults), carbohydrate-rich food for regular refreshments on the way, spare underwear, rain protection, sun protection and ankle-high hiking boots are essential.
Children like to carry some of their things on their own. However, take care that their backpack is well-padded and not too heavy.
Choosing the right equipment is essential for planning a tour. Depending on the difficulty of the hike, wrong or missing ...
Safety when hiking with children
The safety of the children is the highest priority. Avoid danger by proper route planning (length of the route, trail conditions, weather forecast, etc.). You are not allowed to take children on routes that you cant handle yourself safely.
In safe and manageable terrain, children should always lead the way. This way, you can keep an eye on them and assist. Younger children should be taken by the hand in places where there is a danger of slipping or falling. Alternatively, they can be secured with a chest or waist belt and a short rope.