With the Kids

10 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Our family loves a good hike. Whether it’s in the woods, desert, beach, or canyons, there’s so much to explore on a hike. In Seattle, there are plenty of great hikes and many are just the right fit for kids. I’ve got a few tips for you to make your hiking with kids more enjoyable, helping to make things go smoothly and keep their attention.

10 Tips for Hiking with Kids

10 Tips for Hiking with Kids

1. Bring a backpack: having a backpack with you is very crucial. Find something that is lightweight that an adult or older child could carry. And you want it to have straps that cross your chest for good support. It’s also a good place to store all those treasures they might find.

2. Make sure you’ve got snacks and water: we make sure to fill a water bottle or two to bring along. Most backpacks have a nice mesh pocket on the side to hold a water bottle. And you’ll want some snacks. Mixed nuts, raisins, granola bars or energy bars. Trail mixes are great to make and bring too.

3. Wear the right shoes: if you’re hiking near water, you may want shoes that are sturdy, but can get wet. Or if you’re hiking near mud or on a long hike, you’ll want to wear socks with a good pair of hiking shoes. We love Keen shoes, they are perfect for hiking.

**Another great tip we learned from friends is to bring a second pair of shoes to leave in the car and change into when you’re done hiking. Chances are you’re going to get your hiking shoes wet or muddy, so they suggest to bring a second “car” pair of shoes. We’ve now done this and it’s a great idea!

4. First thing to find, a good stick: you’ll be finding a lot of fun things on a hike. But the first thing to find is a good stick. It can be used for so many things. A walking stick, for sword fighting, poking at plants, pointing at things far away, etc.

Finding a good stick

5. Keep a look out: there are so many treasures to search for on a hike. We love to keep our eyes out for the following fun things:

  • Ferns – these plants are on almost every hike we’ve ever been on. It’s a great plant to teach to your young ones. My 3 year old is the best at pointing them out!
  • Bugs – spider webs and creepy crawling things are all over. Make sure to spot them on your hike.
  • Holes – there seems to be a lot of holes near the path. We like to find them and guess what might live inside!
  • Critters – keep your eye out for animals on the trail. We’ll often see squirrels. And we keep our ears open for the sound of birds.

Finding things on a hike

**For my littlest one, we like to find leaves that are bigger than her hand. It’s a great way to keep her attention by having her measure her hand next to different plants.

Finding leaves on a hike

6. Watch for things on your path: it’s fun to look for the roots that pop up all over the pathway. When you’re on a hike with lots of trees, you’ll be sure to see the tree roots pop up. Make sure you look out for them and try not to get tripped.

Finding roots on a hike

7. Talk about what to do if you see berries or poisonous plants: get familiar with common poisonous plants. We been wanting to find a book about this and do a little more research on which plants and berries are not good to even touch. But we make sure to point them out and talk to our kids about NOT picking any berries or leaves off trees and bushes.

Finding berries on a hike

8. Look for the unexpected: it’s the best on a hike when you come upon fallen trees. This one below was uprooted and tipped right over. You can see almost everything from it’s roots and it left a big hole. We’re always looking for fun unexpected sights on our hike. We’ve also seen trees struck by lightning, very cool.

Finding cool stuff hiking

9. Make sure you bring camera: there are always good photo opps on a hike. Make sure to take a picture at the top to show your view.

Hiking with Kids and View

Or even create a few fun photo opps of your own, like pretending to be a bear on a log!

Hanging from a tree

10. And last but not least, have fun in NATURE! If you come prepared with the above items and hiking ideas, you’ll be on your way to a fun family hike.

Have fun hiking with kids!


  1. This is a great list, but I think the first two or three from the list should be obvious, or almost mandatory when you are hiking with kids, than being it a simple tip or suggestion.
    Apart from that there are some great ideas here, I especially like the idea that the smaller children could measure their hands or even their body to leaves, trees or rocks. Kids are naturally attracted to these things, so I’m sure they’ll love this as one of their “mission”.

  2. I’m glad that your KEEN’s are treating you guys so well! Hiking with kids isn’t the “easiest” time, sometimes. BUT you always need to remember that it’s FUN. Hiking with kids is such a treat, and finding a good stick is a must.

    I’m writing on behalf of KEEN Footwear, and we’re always looking for people’s favorite spots to get away from it all (especially kid-friendly places), and add them to our global map. Here’s a link to our map, feel free to add some places. I’m sure we missed a few…


  3. Marie–thanks for the great tips. Im in the Seattle area also. Any favorite hike suggestions?

    1. Fun! We love to explore all the trails in Seward Park, near Washington Lake. Those are all kid friendly.

      We’ve also taken the kids to Twin Falls, on your way to Snoqualmie by I-90. It’s in North Bend I think. It’s got a great hike up to a waterfall, fun for the kids. It’s a little more up and down, but my 3 year old did fine.

      What about you, any suggestions?

      1. Oh, and Lincoln Park in West Seattle is fun too. There are great trails in there and they lead to the Puget Sound. One side has a rock beach and the other has lots of shells and sea glass!

    2. We love to go to Larrabee State Park in southern Whatcom. The best time to go is when there is a really low tide. You can find all sorts of starfish and tons of marine life if you flip over the rocks!

  4. Great tips! We love Keen shoes for hiking too. My daughter, 5 years old, loves to hike. She’s been hiking with us since she was itty bitty, so she is pretty used to it. It doesn’t take much to keep her entertained – nature is truly amazing! As long as we have snacks, a hat, good shoes and our own imagination then we’re good to go. She also loves to take along her pair of binoculars for things that are farther away. :)

    1. Ooo, binoculars are a great idea. I’ll have to find the ones we have and add those to the backpack as well!! Thanks!

    1. Sunscreen is a must, thanks for the reminder. I need to just keep a small tube in the backpack as the designated hiking sunscreen!

  5. Great tips, Marie! We’re a big hiking family over here. We like to geocache or try to spot things beginning with each letter of the alphabet or every color of the rainbow. There are so many opportunities for learning that crop up on the trail! I think the most important tips, as you say, are snacks and water. I would also add the all important “tick check” at the end.

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