BHK Catskills

Even preschoolers can manage—and enjoy—a mile-long hike in the woods. Here are some pointers for hiking with young children:

  • Bring a little buddy—a friend is a distraction and also a deterrent to whining
  • Play games on the trail: suggest things for the youngster to listen to and look for—such as frogs, animal tracks, and acorns
  • Bring binoculars, a magnifying glass, a bag for collecting treasures
  • Prepare a light backpack that he or she can carry
  • Give compliments; praise from a parent makes sore feet suddenly feel better
  • Make frequent stops; a young hiker needs to rest more often than adults do but tends to recover more quickly
  • Offer energy-boosting snacks: fruit, nuts, and plenty of water
  • Let your child set the pace-to convey that the hike's success is not measured in terms of miles but in the pleasure taken in every step
  • Encourage responsibility—an older child given the responsibility of following the hike on the map, keeping an eye out for a loon through the binoculars, or charting directions with the compass will proudly fulfill his or her duties and be less likely to engage in horseplay
  • Don't complain in front of your kids—misery is contagious


– Adapted from Best Hikes with Children in the Catskills and Hudson River Valley, 2nd Edition, ©2002; published by The Mountaineers Books.

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