Hiking with Kids in Colorado
If you're anything like us, one of your favorite things to do is to head up to a quintessential Colorado mountain town for the weekend. Just an hour or so from pretty much anywhere along the Front Range are lakes, open lands, and the ideal environment for family adventures! And as grown-ups (though we always suggest preparing - and bringing a buddy!), it's pretty easy to select a hike, park your vehicle at a trailhead, and taking a good, old-fashioned walk through the wild west. It's that easy.
When you want to take kids hiking in the colorful Colorado mountains, though, we find that a little more planning is helpful! Children can tire easily and (gasp) can even get bored. Simple things like breaking up your hike into shorter sections, will help keep things exciting and fun! With 300 days of annual sunshine and typically mild temperatures, there's hardly ever a bad time to wander in Colorado.
Photo by photo nic on Unsplash
Pick an Age-Appropriate Hike
First, it's important to pick the perfect hike for the ages in your family. We love this resource from Backpacker, with links to articles about selecting hikes for teenagers, toddlers, and kids of all ages. There's even a guide to hiking with babies!
Plan for More Frequent Breaks when Hiking with Younger Children
We all know kids have so much energy! If you've spent any significant amount of time with children, though, you also know that if you walk farther than around the block, you're likely to hear things like "How much longer?" or "I'm tired!" We want to challenge our children, but we also want to be sure that we're creating a positive experience when it comes to the great outdoors. (Kids need to be outside!)
Photo by Kaushal Subedi on Unsplash
Make Time to Play: Fun Hiking Games
Trail Charades are best played when you're stopped for lunch or aren't in a hurry on your hike. For a challenge, skip picking a category and just act out anything that applies to your hike. Next, take turns acting things out! Animals, landscapes, plants ... everything from trees to the beautiful sun shining down on the trail. Don't be afraid to get silly!
The Alphabet Game
In order, name things on the trail that start with each letter of the alphabet. It's okay to skip some letters, if necessary. Also, don't be afraid to use this game as an opportunity to teach your kids something new (like plant identification)!
There's no shortage of things to 'spy' on a hike! Plus, this one's kind of just tradition.
Finish the Story
This is a fun game to get the whole family laughing! Start a story with a simple sentence. The next person continues the story with another sentence. The story can continue as long as you like. Think of it as similar to live Mad Libs! Here are a few starter sentences for you!
- A family turned the corner of the trail to find a treasure chest ...
- When we sat around the campfire that night, we were surprised to hear a voice coming out of the woods ...
- There was something about the howling of wolves that made me think of home ...
- A hike was just what the doctor ordered for me and my family ...
- We'd been planning the perfect hike for months, but then ...
Scavenger hunts on a hike are so much fun! First, talk about Leave No Trace with your children. The environment should be undisturbed by your scavenger hunt game! (For example: "Show me a red flower" instead of "Bring me a red flower") Here are some examples of what your scavenger hunt might look like (adapt and create your own, based on the ages of your children):
- Show me a green leaf
- Show me a brown leaf
- Show me a pinecone
- Show me a mushroom
- Show me a log
- Show me animal tracks
- Show me a tree stump
- Show me moss
- Show me a seed pod
- Show me a stick shaped like a "Y"
- Show me a spider
- Show me rocks
- Show me an acorn
- Show me a hollow tree
- Show me an animal burrow
- Show me flowers
- Show me tree roots
- Show me an insect
- Show me a fern
- Show me tall grass
Keep the Fun Going Following Your Hike!
Kids have an innate instinct to explore their world! Beyond the Blackboard boasts a curated collection of science kits, nature and gardening kits, and science and nature toys for kids of all ages. Our Play Experts choose toys intended to make learning fun! Whether at home or on the trail, hands-on experiences are so important to the childhood experience, and we have a passion for encouraging learning at every age!
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