Spotlight on the Crew ~ The Family Hike: A Gentle Introduction to the Great Outdoors

{This week’s Spotlight on the Crew article is brought to you from AmyB., at Bow of Bronze.}


What Exactly Constitutes a Hike?

Have you ever been on a hike and found yourself sliding up the sides of steep cliffs, praying over boards stretched across a gorge, or slogging through sand to reach your prize destination?  That is not the type of hike I am talking about.  Hiking with children is different.  Once I decided to start taking my children with me on hikes, my definition of hiking changed a little bit.  Today, if it involves walking on trails and observing God’s creation, in our family we call that a hike. No rugged terrain required.  Sometimes, (dare I admit it?) the trails are even paved.


Finding A Great Family Hike

Important fact:  Children are far more capable then we give them credit. Case in point.  I’ve been hiking with my children for 13 years.  I was shocked out of my shoes a couple weeks ago when my three-year-old twins maneuvered through this uphill climb (a.k.a public trail) over a rock pile with their Daddy standing guard.  He let them do it “all by myself.”  And guess what?  They did fine.  They didn’t even scrape a knee.  Do not underestimate what your children can handle on a hike, but you probably won’t want to take them along if boards over gorges are involved either.  It’s a balancing act.  No matter where you live, you can find trails to hike with your children.  Let me repeat that.

No matter where you live, you can find trails to hike with your children.

 A couple weeks ago, I stumbled across a gem of a book called Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Staircases in Los Angeles by Charles Fleming. That’s urban hiking.  I lived in a rural coal mining community growing up and only recently discovered that the entire county is full of beautiful trails and nature areas.  You can often find a book at the library about trails in your area, but if books aren’t available you can search the internet.  Use a search phrase such as “family friendly hikes in Washington D.C.” or “walking with children in Knoxville, Tenessee” or “trail guides for Pike County, Indiana”.  If you have a smart phone, Oh Ranger! Park Finder is a great FREE app to find family friendly hikes within a reasonable drive. If all else fails, ask your neighbor.  Two of my neighbors have recently shared with me trails that have been perfect for our family.  Both trails are within ten minutes of my house on private property with mandatory public trails to beach access.  These trails aren’t advertised anywhere, because the resorts don’t want anyone to know that public trails are available.  With the help of our neighbors, we discovered caves, tide pools, and anemone.  I’m so glad I asked!


Rules for the Family Hike

 In our family, we have three rules for a hike:

Stay on the Trail. 

Stay Together. 

Don’t Touch Anything without Permission.

We go over these rules before we leave home.  I ask one of the older children “What are the three rules for hiking?”  We go over these rules again before we get out of the car at the trailhead.  What are the three rules of hiking? And we all repeat them together.  “Stay on the Trail.  Stay Together.  Don’t Touch Anything without Permission.”  We repeat the rules again just before or just after a rule has been broken.  Repetition works!  I’m happy to say that so far no one has gotten lost, gotten eaten by bears or mountain lions, broken any bones or woken up with poison ivy covering their body.

Once the family is aware of the rules, it is time to enjoy the experience!


Enjoy Your Family Hike

Before you head out the door, make sure you have the essentials needed for your trip.  Have you looked at directions?  Did you print a map?  Is everyone wearing decent shoes?  Do you need parking money?  Did you pack the Discovery Scope? Do the kids want their fancy hats?  My hiking backpack also has a certain set of minimum essentials.

Take sunscreen. Take water. Take a map.

And I will add two more things you need to take on your hike.  Take breaks. And take pictures. We take pictures on the trail.  If the hike involves a prize destination such as a waterfall, we take a picture at the top.  We also enjoy having pictures at the trailhead sign or park entrance sign.  Some of my all-time favorite pictures of my children were taken during a hiking break.  When we stop, the children find a rock to sit on or climb over, they chat with a squirrel, they splash in the creek.

 Magical camera moments happen on hikes.


Take A Hike

Family hikes help build family unity, improve your family’s appreciation of God’s amazing creation and increase your family’s physical endurance. My favorite time for a hike is any time we can spare.  I personally like to wake up in the morning and decide right then to take my family on a hike, but I’m really the type of person who likes to think about and sorta plan for a few weeks ahead of time and then randomly pick the perfect day when the timing is right for our hike.  You might be more like my husband who prefers to set a date, name the exact hiking trail and get all of his ducks in a row at least one week in advance.  Either way now is the time to get started hiking with your family. What are you waiting for?


Bio:  Amy Blevins lives and hikes with her husband of eighteen years and six beautiful children in southern California.  Besides hiking, Amy also enjoys studying God’s Creation, teaching, writing, singing, and reading.  She writes about her homeschool and family life at Bow of Bronze.





9 thoughts on “Spotlight on the Crew ~ The Family Hike: A Gentle Introduction to the Great Outdoors”

  1. We love to hike too…family hike, like you. I don’t think I ever would have hiked without the kids. They love exploring and I love watching them. Great post.

  2. Great pictures! I carried Lauren in a carrier for the last hike that we went on, but I’m hopeful that she’ll have the stamina to attempt some hikes with us next fall.

  3. This looks like a wonderful place for hiking! I will have to do a search to find areas near our home! This definitely sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon of family fun as we like to call it. 😉

  4. My husband and I used to go on so many hikes when we were dating and our first year of marraige. The being pregnant, strollers, strollers and carrier/wraps, toddler stage, all kind of eliminated that from our lives. Now that our youngest is 2 I’m really hoping to get back into doing more hikes. This post was motivating, thanks a lot!


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