Hiking with kids | combining outdoor activity with creative pursuits

Before we had kids, my husband and I spent much of our free time in the British Columbian wilderness. Camping and hiking and exploring the beaches of the west coast. Long days on the trail, always looking ahead to the next glorious mountaintop view.


Activities that we set aside until our children were old enough to join in and strong enough to carry their own day packs (as opposed to being carried by us…).

hiking with kids

Unlike their parents, however, these children are not so easily entertained by the thrill of an empty path and the promise of ‘what might be’ over the next ridge. Accustomed to the fast pace of team sports, video games and television shows, there just wasn’t enough ‘excitement’ in the out-of-doors to capture their attention for long.

And we all know how important it is to keep our children physically active!

To be honest, sick and tired of the complaints (‘can we go back now?’, ‘this is boring’, ‘how much longer?’) we’d almost given up on hiking with kids until the day our oldest son happened to bring his camera with him on an outing.

The transformation was magical.

He ran ahead of us on the path looking for plants and animals and views to photograph. His siblings scampered behind pointing out potential shots and begging for their turn with the camera.The hike ended not because we’d reached the usual 60 minute mark, but because his battery died and he hadn’t thought to bring a replacement.

Not surprising, our younger two children asked for point-and-shoots for their upcoming birthdays and to this day, we continue the tradition of always bringing cameras when hiking with kids.

No more complaints about outdoor activities and squabbles are limited to occasions when one blocks the ‘photo opp’ of another.

One of about 500 pictures taken of the Columbia ground squirrels at Manning Park…

Happily, the children are much better photographers than we are (how’s that for hope for the future of blogging?)…

Source: 10-year old daughter

Of course, now that we own kayaks and our outdoor adventures frequently involve water, speed and daring, it just might be time to invest in a Go-Pro…

hiking with kids

Do you have any tricks and tips for hiking with kids?






  1. LOVE the pics – both the older ones & the new ones! The kids are quite the photographers!! I used to do a lot more of it when I was younger…. we lost all our stuff in a burglary a few years back.. but they were old fogie real film cameras! 😉 Need to save for a nice digital camera OR win the lotto!

    I have nothing to add to hiking with kids! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Gaining Weight on Healthy Foods – Can You?My Profile

    • Jody, the best thing about the new cameras is how much functionality you get for so very little money. My kids’ cameras are all in the $120 range and they have better zoom and maco’s than my older one!

  2. She was four years old. We were at the great Sand Dunes National Monument and explore and to camp for 1 week. 5am our first morning there, and our daughter leaves the tent, climbs in the car and screams, “I hate camping”. We stayed less than 24 hours.

    Next time out we encouraged her be telling her she could plan the menu, pick the snacks, and help cook. Hey, you can’t go wring with peanut butter and M&M sandwiches 3 times per day, and M&Ms for snacks, can you…?

    Might not have been healthy, but it was the difference maker…
    Contemplative Fitness recently posted…Guilty, I am…My Profile

    • Hey, ya gotta do, what ya gotta do. I often use a visit to the ice cream shop to motivate a long scooter ride…

      The first time we took the kids camping we left them alone with the s’mores. Fast forward to midnight and a child who vomits all over the inside of the tent. We bailed and went to a hotel the next day 🙂

  3. And yes, that actually happened…
    Contemplative Fitness recently posted…Guilty, I am…My Profile

  4. Scavenger hunts! I was a camp counselor for a few years and had to make up so many lame-yet-cool games to entertain the kids on boring field trips. Coolest rock contest, biggest leaf contest, tally how many worms you find…
    Karen @ the mile report recently posted…Sore hamstrings and cerealMy Profile

    • Karen, excellent idea! My kids also enjoy geo-caching. I have an app for my iPhone that can find geocaches wherever you are. They love following the clues and the compass to search for them.

  5. Hiking and exploring – yes. Camping – blah. My tips for camping with kids – give them some sort of task. “Look for XXX” or “Where do you think the top of this mountain is” kind of thing. It keeps them entertained for a few minutes.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Eating Healthy at ConferencesMy Profile

  6. OMG that’s a brilliant idea!!!! I’m kind of hesitant to take our kids hiking because I don’t think that I can stand all the whining and complaining and requests to go back. I have friends who hike and camp with their kids all the time and I just can’t see my kids. Then again, I haven’t really tried but I love this idea of giving them a camera so they will stop and pause and take notice of the little things.

  7. Love the photo of them all taking a photo of the squirrel!

    We love to GeoCache! The kids really got in to it over Spring Break this year and it keeps us entertained and outside for hours!!
    Jenny recently posted…Technology Saved My Life: Part 1My Profile

    • Geocaching is great! I downloaded an iPhone app that finds local caches wherever we are. Great motivation to keep moving on a hike when somebody decides they’re “tired”!

  8. You are tooooo clever! Something about having a camera or smart phone with camera capability gives children such a great feeling of control and power. Love the pic of the squirrel (chipmunk?) that your daughter took. As for the action camera, I hope you get one! I have the Sony Action Cam and got some fun footage from the Love Mud Run as I crawled through tunnels and climbed a HUGE hill, then again in Thailand when bike riding. Fingers crossed for you!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…How Do We Leave Obesity Behind?My Profile

    • Kymberly,

      The kids went out and spent their savings on a GoPro. I have yet to see the hiking footage they took this week! They have so much fun with photography. And that’s a ground squirrel; they live in big colonies and are totally corrupted by humans feeding them…

  9. Oh that’s so awesome!! I know I love looking at photos that my kids take. It’s so refreshing to see things from their point of view ya know?
    Amanda Fraijo-Tobin (@FraijoManda) recently posted…Thankfulness + TechnologyMy Profile

    • Me too Amanda! Recently, my daughter joined a young photographer’s website. They’ve featured several of her pics on their home page and she loves that other kids can add comments and captions to her photos. My three children just pooled their savings and bought a GoPro. Can’t wait to see what they do with it!

  10. When our kids were little (25 years ago!) we used to lure them to hike by telling them that either there would be a gift shop at the end of the hike or that after the hike we would visit the gift shop. Of course there wasn’t always a gift shop to visit so that only worked for a while…