#1: Destination Surprise!
Instead of hiking the same trail each week or telling your children where you will be hiking for the day – surprise them! Pack all of the essential hiking equipment in the trunk of your car and hit the road to see the fall colors. Then, stop along the way for what will seem like a surprise hike (that you planned ahead of time)! Don’t tell your children what they will see along the way, let them wait to see if the hike includes a lot of animals, a waterfall or a bridge they have to cross. They won’t know, until they start hiking!
#2: Pick a Hike that Packs a Punch
A couple of weekends ago, my family went on our annual fall family trip – this year in Montana. Our week long trip included many hikes – however, at the end of the week we surprised the kids by taking them on a 4-hour hike. This hike included many things that children love; waterfalls, rocky cliffs, streams, caves, and even a herd of mountain goats. Even though the hike would be considered long for many kids, the very fact that there was so much to experience had a much larger impact on them than the amount of time that we spent hiking.
#3: Focus on the Journey, not the Destination
A hike doesn’t need to be an intense, long trek through the forest. Sometimes the best hikes are easy trails that meander though the trees. During these hikes, allow your children the opportunity to literally stop and smell the flowers, collect pine cones and leaves, and discover fallen logs and rocks. Children love to experience things not only with their eyes but with their hands – and this can be an amazing way for them to experience fall hiking.
#4: Plan a “Surprise” Picnic
A day of hiking can sure work up an appetite. Instead of packing a typical peanut butter and jelly sandwich, go gourmet. Your children will be surprised when you pull out fresh organic bread, homemade jellies, and fruit from your backpack. We like to pack a blanket and lay it out on the side of the mountain where we can have an amazing view while we eat. It is always a great surprise that my family enjoys and almost every time we are sitting quietly eating, we will see some type of animal in the distance.
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