Hiking with Children
First rule: YOU are responsible for the safety and care of your child(ren). If you cannot provide constant supervision of your child(ren), please consider some activity other than hiking.
Here are some suggestions regarding hiking with children of various ages. Please adapt them to your situation as needed.
Pre-toddlers require some sort of baby carrier. Hike on trails easier trails. Be careful about trees and brush that may accidentally hit or scrape your child. Bring adequate food and sanitary supplies. Bring a large umbrella to shield your child if it rains. Bring warm clothes or blanket in case it gets chilly for your child.
Toddlers are the least likely candidates for hikes as they tend to wander and not pay attention to instructions. Parks with open areas are a better choices for an outing.
First and second graders who pay attention to your instructions still need constant supervision as they do not always recognize potential hazardous situation. They are easily distracted, get tired and may require frequent diversions, rest stops, snacks etc. to maintain their interest. A one mile walk that takes an adult about 20 minutes could easily take a child one hour, what with exploring bugs, running back and forth, etc. Stay on easier trails, bring lots of water and snacks. Go part way in and turn around whenever you feel the kids are ready to quit.
Third to sixth graders have more endurance, pay more attention to your instructions (you hope) and have a better sense of hazardous situations. Although they may require less supervision, they must still remain in visual contact to ensure safety. Most will hike for 2-5 hours with some encouragement.
Teens, as you are aware, disdain supervision, are overly energetic and independent. They are still your responsibility. Ensure they understand the hiking rules and standards of behavior prior the the hike. Maintain regular contact with them to ensure their safety and conduct. After that, good luck!
More information on trails and hiking:
Check out the Na Ala Hele website at http://www.hawaiitrails.org/island.asp?island=Oahu. Na Ala Hele is the State of Hawaii Trail Maintenance program for public trails.
Also, check the library or book store. There are many books on taking kids on hikes and nature outings.
revised August 2009 – Jim Yuen