hiking games for toddlers

Lately I have been having a lot of fun watching my 2 1/2 year old enjoy hiking the trails. We usually do 2 km hikes but have embarked on a few 4 Km hikes as long as they do not have a lot of incline. If they do have quite a bit of incline we will have a carrier for her in case she gets tuckered out. Although she is a pretty motivated little hiker she sometimes needs a bit of a push mid hike or near the end of the hike to finish. Or… If I am honest… There are times when we hit the ol’ two year old crashing point in which something needs to be done to motivate her to keep on hiking. To motivate her we often play games or have little hiking activities. If we need to do the activities mid hike we often only have to play for a bit before she is ready to keep on hiking and she starts enjoying her time hiking on the trails again.

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*Update* Check out Hiking Games for Toddlers  Part 2 for more hiking games!

1. Actions:

This game involves running and actions. To start you tell your toddler to run. Get them to run as long as they are having fun but not long enough that they get tired or bored of the activity. Then yell at them to ‘STOP’. Make sure your toddler has stopped and tell them to do an action or even a few actions. Some actions include ‘touch your nose, touch your toes, do 5 jumps, 5 jumping jacks, do a wiggle etc.’ Then repeat. I have repeated this game in order to finish a hike when my daughter has become tired out. This is an interactive game and my daughter loves to play it especially with one of her really good friends. We actually learnt this game from a good friend of mine.

2. Race:

While this is somewhat straight forward I will give a few tips to make racing a bit more fun. Draw a start line on the ground with your foot. Our daughter loves doing this as well. Say ‘on your mark, get set. GO’. Then race your child down the trails. If they have siblings or their friends are along on the hike they can race each other.

Already trying to run after her sister on the trail.
Already trying to run after her sister on the trail.

3. Detective:

While hiking have your child look for various outdoor objects. Tell them they can only look for it on the trails to keep them on the trail. Some examples of objects include: Rocks, Leafs, Sticks, Bugs. If that becomes too easy get them to look for certain colours or shapes of these objects.

Searching for a white round rock.
Searching for a white round rock.

5. Kicking rocks:

I will often find a rock to kick with my daughter on the trail if she is slowing down. She gets a turn at kicking it and then I do. The trick is that when its your turn to kick the rock that you kick it a good distance down the trail. It’s a great way to cover some distance!!!

6. Push Toy:

If the hike is stroller friendly but I want to encourage my daughter to walk the trail then I will sometimes bring her stroller. Our 2 1/2 year old can be extremely motivated when pushing around her doll or husky dog. She has pushed that stroller on easy paths for just over 5 km walking by herself!!!

pushing a stroller

 

By Annika
By Annika Mang

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15 thoughts on “Hiking games for toddlers!!!”

  1. Great ideas! I’m adding these to my arsenal 🙂
    I’d like to add – we run ahead and find the perfect tree for hiding… Then BOO! Scare daddy! It’s amazing how much distance you can cover when they get into a good game haha.

  2. Ugh I need these ideas so bad! My 3 year old will not hike! We used to motivate her by letting her walk (aka run with) one of the dogs, but the dog got cancer and passed recently. I haven’t been able to get her to walk the other dog (he doesn’t like to run), so she just wants to ride in the stroller. I’m going to have to try some of these games! Thank you!

    1. Aw I’m so sorry your dog passed away. Your daughter obviously loved hiking with him. I hope these activities help out. Our oldest has been struggling to hike these days when her sister is in a carrier and both my husband and I are along. She wants a ride like her sister! Sometimes we force it and it goes well and sometimes it does not. We also plan to do harder hikes now where they are both in carriers. Ones we would not be able to do if they were walking

  3. Great ideas! My son invented a make believe game on the trail recently. He wanted to keep going to look for moose! We have no moose in Arizona, but that doesn’t matter. I think he would have hiked to the summit that way if the weather would have permitted!

    1. That is awesome! Just today our daughter was motivated trying to catch Tinkerbell on the trail and was running like a crazy toddler. I am pretty sure we don’t have Tinkerbell in Canada lol But it worked!!!

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