By doing a little bit of planning, you can really enhance your experience out on the trail. First off, you’ll want to map out your trail. Be sure to make this a family activity—kids will love being in charge and helping plan the route. Once you plan where you’re going to go and the trail, make sure you pack everything you need. Snacks, water, bug spray—these will all make your trip more pleasant. Finally, make sure you dress properly for the day. No one likes to be cold or have uncomfortable shoes halfway through the trip.
Once you’re on the trail, you want to pace yourself. Don’t speed through the hike, or you might get really tired early on. Of course, you don't want to go too slow, either because some of you might lose steam before you’re done. Along the way, be sure to talk to your kids about what you’re seeing. Take pictures, point things out. You might even have everyone take turns being the leader—this will really make that lead person pay attention to their surrounding and experience nature on a deeper level. While you’re on the hike, don’t forget to take stops along the way to rest and refuel.
After your hike is done, take a little time to reflect on the day. You can do this through journaling, sketching or simply going over the pictures you took and talking about the day. This might seem like a simple thing, but it’s really important to do. This way, your kids will really remember the experience more. If you did something special or have a cool picture from the day, be sure to print it out and hang it up for everyone to enjoy.
Blog post provided by National Park Trust staff and Ken Keffer and Stacy Tornio, creators of DestinationNature.net.