Day Hiking with Kids

Written by Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life, Contributing Writer

One of our family’s favorite things to do together is to get out in the woods and explore. Sometimes we venture farther off into the mountains or state parks, other times we keep closer to our home and stick to nearby environmental centers and local parks. 

It’s a free and fun, and a great source of exercise for all of us. 

There are times when fatigue or forgetfulness make me prefer the comfort and ease of staying home, but inevitably, as soon as we are outdoors together, I quickly remember why the effort is worth it and how special these times are. 

  Day Hiking with Kids

Being outside, exploring nature, testing their physical strength, learning from observation– getting your kids outdoors is one of the best things you can do for them this summer. 

And doing it together is important too. Your children will pick up on your enthusiasm and sense of the worth of being in nature. 

Day Hiking with Kids

You don’t need to take a lot with you when you are going out for a simple day hike with your kids, but there are a few things you want to be sure not to leave behind. 

Here is are 5 items that always make it into our bags when we head off onto a trail: 

1. Water

Obviously a hiking necessity. A bottle for everyone makes it easier to keep track of how much everyone is drinking and can help motivate younger children to stay hydrated. Don’t skimp on water breaks– rather, make it a point to take them together and see that your kids are taking drinks too. 

2. An energy boosting and filling snack

Hiking can be physically strenuous and at some point you are going to need to replenish your energy with a good snack. A good snack is especially helpful for children who don’t typically have the stamina of adults and who would benefit from taking a short rest to eat. Granola bars with protein, nut butter balls, apples, oranges, a bag of seeds and nuts, sliced cheese and so on give everyone the fuel they need to complete a hike. 

3. Bug repellant and bite cream

We don’t actually use much bug repellant, but if your family is prone to insect bites, this is good to have on hand. A little lavender essential oil or Hyland’s Bug Bite Ointment is also good to tuck into your bag in case of itchy, irritating bites someone gets along the hike. 

4. Two diapers and a small amount of wipes. (If a baby is attending the hike)

This is one instance where you don’t need to overpack “just in case”. Bring what you need for one or two changes while you are out. If something requiring more happened, it may be time to call it a day. 

5. Small backpacks or bags for the kids

Children old enough to carry them should be encouraged to take along a small bag to hold their water and treasures that they find along the hike. Small rocks, neat leaves or feathers, a cool looking stick– these can all be great mementos to bring home to continue talking about your hike. 
Help them to resist the temptation overpack their bag before starting out. Keep it light and they will be more likely to succeed in carrying it themselves. 

Day Hiking with Kids

A few more items that are sometimes good to have on hand:

1. Sunscreen

If you are hiking out in the sun or plan to stop and play in the water, apply sunscreen before you start and take along a small tube for reapplications as needed. Here’s a great DIY Sunscreen!

2. A map and compass

Most trails are well marked and maps aren’t often necessary. 

3. Baby carriers

Depending on the ages of your children, a good baby carrier (or two!) might be a lifesaver. We love our backpack style carrier for young babies (perfect for naps on the trail) and our framed backpack carrier which is better for toddlers who can’t walk long distances on a trail but want to be a part  of the experience. 

What is your family’s favorite outdoor activity? 

About Lisa

Lisa is married to her best friend and has three inquisitive and energetic kids. She loves crafty things like sewing and painting and actually enjoys cooking with her kids, and making crackers and pasta from scratch. In the busy fullness of life with young children, Lisa strives to live faithfully, remembering the hope of the gospel in all the everyday things. She blogs about a "pilgrim life", living in grace now and waiting for a more permanent, eternal home at


  1. […] can find our simple packing list for day hikes with a baby, toddler and preschooler (or is that a toddler and two preschoolers?) on Day 2 Day Joys blog.  Keep reading for a round-up […]

  2. […] Day Hiking with Kids ll Day 2 Day Joys […]