Have you ever tried to get family and friends out for a hike and found them to be…less than enthused? As lovers of the outdoors, many of us are eager to introduce others to the joy that it brings us, but to do it right, we need to take a step back and remember what brought us to it in the first place. For most, an introduction to hiking doesn’t include a 10 mile trek into the backcountry. More likely, you were introduced to it by someone else who loved getting outside, and found creative ways to make it fun for you!
To pass along your passion for getting outdoors, you just need a positive attitude, a few basic pieces of equipment (many of which you likely already own), and a variety of ideas for fun activities to keep things fun. Here are six ideas to make hiking fun for beginners.
1. Fishing at the rivers and lakes
Your family and friends may sulk at the monotony of walking for hours on end. Fishing is a great activity to bring the life back to the hike. Luckily, most hiking destinations are graced with lakes and rivers suitable for this activity. Folks can team up to compete for the best catch. Bonus: dinner is in the bag…or net, if you will. You’ll need to carry portable fishing rods, but can never go wrong when including fishing as part of your outing.
Geocaching is a popular activity of searching for hidden objects by the help of GPS coordinates, and a really great way to keep everyone engaged in the hike. In this activity, your counterparts can simply grab their smartphone, get latitude and longitude coordinates and they are good to go. Geocaching is analogous to a modern-day scavenger hunt. Everyone enjoys discovering hidden treasures!
3. Foraging for Berries
Another way to make getting to your hiking destination more interesting: introduce your companions to foraging for wild berries. Before you do this, make sure you do your research, and know which of the fruits are edible!
Finding and picking berries is not only a great to blow off some steam, it means instant gratification for those who like to eat them straight off the vine. Consider hiking during autumn to get the best harvest. There is a dense lush of berries waiting for you to pick out there!
Don’t want to return from your hike with nothing to show? Make sure you encourage photos! Everyone can have fun capturing nature, each other, and the amazing landscape as you go. Make lasting memories with great photos!
Have you ever come across water that begs you to take a dip? This happens often during hiking trips. Why not answer the call, and take a dip in rivers or smaller lakes you encounter. This can be great to relax after covering some ground. Make sure to bring a swimsuit and an extra change of clothes. Your pals are almost guaranteed to ask to hit the trail with you again if you manage to find that perfect swimming hole. IMPORTANT: make sure you research potential swimming spots before you head out to be sure they’re safe for swimming, and that swimming is allowed!
6. Give everyone a responsibility
Let’s face it, everyone loves feeling like they are in charge. Give your family and friends responsibilities before, during and after the hike. Some responsibilities include leading the group, taking pictures, instructing others and giving direction among others. Giving responsibilities makes beginners feel like they are part and parcel of the whole journey. When the group is engaged, the trip becomes nothing but fun.
What other fun ideas have you used to make hiking fun for beginners in your life?
Share your ideas in the comments below!
Hiking with family and friends can be a truly bonding experience. The trick is keeping things fun for beginners in your group, by including activities beyond carrying themselves on their own two feet. Now that you are ready to go, we challenge you to plan a hike for this upcoming weekend. Go and have fun with your family and friends!
David Lane says
Long distance hiking with kids.
You may be thinking about bringing your child(ren) on your long distance hike and you have concerns and apprehension. I recommend that you allow and encourage them to go. You won’t regret the decision.
After thru-hiking twice I’ve seen numbers families on the A.T. and kids seem to do fine from what I’ve seen on the AppalachianTrail. You may consider taking them for a section, or if they are able and willing, even the whole way! The trail community will have your back and keep many eyes out for your children. My counsel would be to go for if as it could be an amazing and life changing experience for them.
Here’s some suggestions I’ve thought of to keep your kids happy and engaged while on the trail.
☆ Start by taking your kids on fun day hikes and get them interested in nature and hiking in general. Slowly increase the length and difficulty level as time goes by. Get them used to carrying their own gear and slowly build up the weight that they carry.
☆ You will be on a schedule, but learn your child’s pace and don’t push them too hard or they will cease to have fun, and so will you as a result. Stop for frequent breaks to smell the roses.
☆ Get apps or lightweight books about how to identify plants, animals, geology and constellations. Make everything a learning experience and make games of identification of these things to make hiking fun and engaging for them. The more involved and invested you and your child(ren) are, the more you will all enjoy the trek.
☆ I suggest that you equip yourselves and with some form of mp3 players and then buy or borrow audio books from your local library. Together pick and listen to the same book and then discuss them together to challenge and sharpen their intellect and keep their minds growing.
☆ Someone reminded me that Geo-caching is a fun diversion to participate in along the way as a form of “treasure hunting.”
☆ Ask thru-hikers and other experienced hikers to share stories about their positive hiking experiences. Most of us are happy to do so. The hard thing sometimes is to get us to stop! 😀
There are many ways to keep them interested and engaged so that they will enjoy their time with you. By taking your child(ren) on a long distance hike, you are giving your children the best gift a parent could give their children – The gift of quality time with them and a love of the outdoors. These are the memories that will last a lifetime! 😀
Your kids will learn important life lessons and meet great people and that will positively improve them from that point on. Even better, they may take up the hiking lifestyle which will help keep them happy and healthy for the rest of their lives. People who love nature will be more likely to seek it’s protection.
Taking your kids hiking is one of the things that makes you an awesome parent! 😀 Hike on!☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
For more hiking advice, tips and hacks gained from about 5,000 miles of long distance hiking check out my Facebook page – Squarepeg’s Trail Talk.