Thinking of taking your toddler on a hike but having THEM hike the whole time? Or are you unsure whether they will be able to hike any distance at all? It can be overwhelming deciding whether to let a toddler hike on their own. I have been there! I worried about tantrums the most and having to haul my little one out of the woods on my own. When I started to think about what made a hike toddler friendly and how to choose the right hike, I began to feel better about heading on the trails with my two little girls. To help get you started here are 4 tips to consider when choosing a hike for your toddler:
Choose a distance that you are fairly confident your little one could complete. If you have never hiked with your little one then choose a smaller distance. A good distance to start with would be 2 km. Not only is 2 km a good starting distance for your toddler but if the hike does not go as planned it is not too far to carry your little one near the end of the hike. To give a little perspective… A 1.5-2 km relatively flat hike would take an adult 15-25 minutes to complete.
Once you add any sort of significant elevation then the hike becomes considerably more difficult for a toddler. If you can find a hike with around 100 m of elevation over 1.5 -2 km for the first time then it should be easy enough for your little one. Help them by telling them when they might take a break for some water and encourage them as they are hiking. Our daughter loves to hike up the hills especially after we tell her that it means we will have a fun downhill to run down. That is her motivation.
Please Note: Elevation is a little bit tricky to define because the difficulty of the elevation is dependent on the distance you complete while you are climbing the particular elevation.For example an elevation of 300 m over 5 kms is not that difficult of a hike whereas 300 m over 2 km would be considerably more difficult.
Points of Interest:
Choose a hike with some fun stops or features. It will be easier to encourage your toddler to hike if there are some fun places to explore along the way. Some hikes have bridges on them and from my experience toddlers love hiking over bridges. Other hikes have waterfalls to stop and look at or a small lake for swimming or throwing rocks into. Other options include a hike with a nice look out point or rocks to climb as they can be great motivation as a place to hike and have a snack.
Decided to do a hike with your toddler? GREAT! Now check out these ‘Tips for Hiking with Toddlers’ and ‘Hiking Games for Toddlers.’ For a fun story about the first time I hiked with my two littles on my own check out ‘A New Age of Adventure Begins…’