After nearly every outing, one of my kids says, “I think this was the best hike ever!” On one recent short day hike, that was simply because, about 3/4 of a mile up a very hot trail, we found this wonderful drinking fountain. We had packed water, but the drinking fountain stole the show.
What makes a hike the best ever? Here are 6 things you can think about to make this hike the best ever.
- Start at the right time of day. For our family, early morning is best. We are all early risers, and sometimes we are even on by the trail by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. We love the cool, the sound of the birds, and we really love breakfast on the trail. For your family, afternoon or evening might be the time when your energy flows. For us, if we are hiking in the early afternoon, it takes a lot longer to get going and happy on the trail. So, I try to hike on days when we can go in the morning.
- Bring plenty of water (or maybe something yummy, like Gatorade.) It can get hot, and if it is hot enough, even “scary” without water. Kids should never have to ration water on a hike. That is a good way to ruin them for a long time about hiking. Bring enough to bring some home. We like to pack a bottle of Gatorade to share on a long hike. It is a good pick-me-up if the going gets tough on the way back to the car. On one backpacking trip, I even packed some canned ice teas in the top of my backpack to chill in the creek where we were camping. Everyone enjoyed those teas very much (and I enjoyed getting the 5 pounds out of my pack!) that evening.
- Plan a special food. As I said earlier, we like breakfast on the trail. I have a special coffee cake recipe (coming soon to you!) that I love to make a day or two before the hike, wrap individual slices in foil, and take along with a bottle of cold milk and some fruit to watch the sunrise. We have some favorite meal recipes, and we almost always slip in a candy bar or some other “junk” to carry us the last few miles. You could try Pitas and Hummus, Veggie Sandwiches, or Picnic Chicken on your next hike!
- Take time to enjoy the trail you are on. Although we like to cover the miles, there is no point in going hiking if your don’t enjoy the view. Take time to watch the lizards, butterflies and flowers. Right now, everyone except Max in our family has their own camera. That slows us down but lets us know what each person is interested in, so that we can stop and enjoy it.
- Turn around or stop at the right time. Sometimes you don’t get to the end of the trail — and that’s okay. Set a time limit or a whine limit, and turn around. Time enjoyed in the outdoors builds memories that can be repeated and expanded upon.
Other posts about hiking you might like: