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HIKING WITH KIDS

trail signGetting kids hooked on outdoor recreation helps them grow to be physically active. They can start as preschoolers and enjoy it for a lifetime.

For small children, begin gradually with a short hike to collect different kinds of leaves or encounter turtles and other small creatures. Be flexible about your plans, and let your child’s curiosity be your guide.

Children can begin hiking adventures as soon as they can walk or earlier if carried in a baby backpack. Hiking strengthens the legs, the heart, and the lungs. It provides a fun form of fitness for the whole family.

STARTING OUT

For short legs, take short hikes in Cape Cod National Seashore along relatively easy trails like Pilgrim Springs and Small’s Swamp in Truro or around part of the Salt Pond in Eastham.

Plan hikes with exciting destinations like the panoramic view of Nauset Marsh and the distant Atlantic Ocean or the dunes at Beech Forest Trail in Provincetown. Pre-teens and teens can take part in planning the walk. Let them choose a destination, map out a safe route, and help pack the necessary supplies.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO CONSIDER:
  • Never walk alone.
  • Let someone at home know your hike plans in advance.
  • Stay together as a group, hiking at the pace of slower walkers. If older children want to walk faster than younger ones, designate an easy-to-find meeting spot.
  • Know your route. Follow a map or ask a ranger about the trail.
  • Don’t run on rocky or steep trails.
  • Step around or over rocks and roots whenever possible.
  • Stay on the trail to limit damage to nature and avoid poison ivy, poison oak, and ticks.
  • Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink.
  • Take frequent rests – at least five minutes every half hour for novices.