Taking your family hiking should be an adventure for everyone. Yet, a big part of making the experience successful is choosing the right trail. There are specific criteria families should look for when making outdoor adventuring plans.

Planning a hike for a family can be tricky, so always plan for each member’s hiking ability. Families that don’t have a lot of experience hiking should stick to shorter trails with easy access points; seasoned families may choose a more challenging path.

The first thing to consider is the amount of time that will be set aside for family hikes. Travel time should be accounted for as well, as a long drive means less daylight for hikers. Of course, if you’re taking youngsters on a hike, it likely won’t be a lengthy or complicated trail. On average, once a hike starts, most participants can walk one mile in one hour.

Families might choose a short, flat trail, especially if young children will be participating. The length of the path may determine how successful a family’s hike is, as well as how strenuous the walk to the trail is. One of the easiest ways to enjoy this activity is to choose a route with a shallow incline, as opposed to a huge hill. 

For many hikers, the scenery is a significant factor in their choice of trails. Some hikers choose to start at the highest point they can, giving them a view of the surrounding area. Others prefer waterfalls, flower fields, or even various mining sites and ghost towns. Determine who all will be coming along for the hike, and accommodate their interests and endurance levels.

One factor that families can’t control is the weather. While hikes are enjoyable year-round, the climate must be considered. For instance, will youngsters be able to keep up if the trail is snowy? Or will oppressive summer heat make for a sweaty, arduous trek? When planning a hiking trip, keep your eye on the weather and temperature. Additionally, keep in mind that trails can be muddy and slippery after storms. If your area has seen rainy or snowy weather, give the trails a few days to dry out before setting off.

Finally, get to know the surrounding area for a trail. Is there a creek for children to splash in? Does a nearby campsite offer the chance for hot dogs and burgers on a charcoal grill? Are trails pet-friendly? Do your research, study the trail map, and come as prepared as can be for a fun-filled day with your family!