What do you do with bored kids in the summer? Why not get out of the house, get some exercise, and explore by hiking on a local nature trail. I’m lucky to live close to the North Umpqua Hiking trail, and I bet you live within driving distance of some kind of hiking as well. We can go to a wildlife habitat down the road and hike up a mountain to look down at the river. It’s a two hour hike with kids. I can also drive the other way and find many entrances to the hiking trail, and pick which waterfall to hike into.
I took my kids hiking from a very young age. It may sound daunting to take 3 little kids out into the woods, but I found some short hiking paths that weren’t too steep. I picked up a hiking guide from the local forest service station and found a wealth of access points into the woods. Most are well traveled by families, couples and groups. We can drive to the coast and walk around a small lake, spending about two hours enjoying the scenery. Even at 5 or 6, kids can surprise you with how far they can hike. Just take food, water and some first aid in a back pack. It’s all the better if you can swim on the hike.
We love to hike into berry picking spots, which I’ve learned about while growing up in the area. We recently took a short walk into a shady canyon to pick salmon berries. Later in the year, we’ll seek out thimbleberries, huckleberries and blackberries. Hiking can include bird watching or spying for any animal or wild flower. We enjoy finding any and everything from fuzzy caterpillars, frogs, butterflies, birds and anything else that looks interesting. We keep it very informal, but some parents might like to create a checklist or scavenger hunt for things you think you might see. In this context, it’s actually fun to pull out a book and identify trees, plants and animals. Kids love hands-on learning. With Hiking, they’ll come to love exercise and learning without even realizing it!