Inside:  Plan nature hikes to get the most out of family time together. No matter where you live or the ages of your children, there are several great ways to connect with nature and each other as a family. Start your kids young and plan nature hikes with your kids as soon as you can.  They will gain tremendous respect for the environment.*Note:  there are Amazon links inside.  If you click I might make a small commission but at no cost to you!*

Plan nature hikes to get the most out of family time together.  Nature outings are an ideal way to spend time as a family and help your children develop an appreciation for the natural world. Hiking is a great way to exercise, learn about animals and plants in your community and get away from daily stresses of living.  No matter where you live or the ages of your children, there are several great ways to connect with nature and each other as a family.

Nature Outings Close to Home:

The easiest way to move hiking into your regular routine is to pick areas close to home.  It is a fast and efficient way to get outside and enjoy the perks of hiking.  Plan nature hikes close to home in a variety of ways.  For you and your older children, don’t forget to take a journal to record those special discoveries.

1. Plan nature hikes in your own backyard. There are many things to observe right in your own backyard. Install a birdfeeder and learn to identify different species and their habits. Use a rainy day to teach your children about the water cycle.
2. Get to know your neighborhood. A routine walk can be transformed into an expedition if you get some guidebooks to your local plant and wildlife. Learn to identify various trees and observe seasonal changes.
3. Visit local parks and other attractions. There are opportunities in every community to visit zoo, parks, and other nature preserves, whether you live in the country or the city. Plan trips to the closest beach or lake. Go online to find children’s programs at your local park or natural history museum.

a girl hiking in the forest close to home

Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Nature Hikes Away From Home:

For a more intense experience, plan nature hikes away from home.  These types of hikes will take some advance planning but will be a great learning experience for your kids.  Exploring new ecosystems with different plants and animals will add to their knowledge about the natural world.  Some of these hikes can still be found relatively close to home.  Others may involve some vacation planning.  Regardless, these types of hiking adventures are well worth the effort.  Create a special journal for each of these outings.  You and your kids will love looking back on each special hiking trip to remember your feelings and discoveries.

1. Explore state and national parks. Camping in state parks is a great bargain for family travel. Check out the Junior Ranger program at the National Park Service. Children can earn badges for all kinds of educational tasks.
2. Plan outdoor activities at your vacation destination. Be sure to include some outdoor recreation activities wherever you go for vacation. If you’re visiting relatives far away, get familiar with the facts about their region and use them to teach your children about ecological diversity.
3. Send your child to summer camp. Summer camp can be an enriching experience for youngsters with opportunities to learn new things and make new friends. The American Camp Association can help you find an accredited program to match your child’s needs.

two kids looking at the view from a canyon sitting spot

Pexels from Pixabay

Plan Nature Outings for Babies and Younger Children:

Start the desire for exploring nature through hiking when your kids are young.  There are so many creative ways to do this.

1. Introduce your baby to nature. It’s never too early to get started. Listen to bird songs with your baby. (If you install the Merlin Bird ID app you can figure out the bird species if you’re unsure of who you’re listening to.)  Admire colorful flowers along with your infant.
2. Read guidebooks and maps together. Make guidebooks and maps part of your family reading. You can point to pictures of animals and plants and repeat the names together with smaller children. As your child gets older, let them pick out their own books and read passages to you.
3. Keep a journal. Get your child a journal with blank pages. They can record their nature observations and make sketches. It will be fun for them to see their progress over time, and it will help keep them motivated.

Child writing in her journal while hiking.

smackmark0 from Pixabay

4. Start a collection. Invite your child to bring back trophies from your outings, such as interesting stones and seashells. Give them an inexpensive camera so they can take their own pictures.
5. Include the family pet. Domestic animals can help teach your children about other species and the role of instinct in animal behavior. Pay attention to what your dog is doing. Discuss how to tell a dog’s mood by the position of his ears and tail.
6. Relax and have fun. Keep your outings enjoyable. Adapt your activities to your child’s attention span. Use their interests to suggest new topics to explore.

hiking on the mud flats with family

Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

Plan Nature Hikes for Older Children and Teens:

Older kids and teens will participate in hikes on their own if they’ve been encouraged when younger.  They are also more likely to want to participate in family hiking adventures if you’ve peaked their interest early on.  Older kids and teens like to have more input into hiking adventures.

1. Invite them to lead. Give older youths the opportunity to take the lead. By instructing younger children, they can be positive role models and develop a sense of accomplishment.
2. Include their peers. As your child grows older, they’ll be more focused on socializing with peers. Talk with their teachers about organizing an outing at their school. Let them invite a friend along when your family goes kayaking.
3. Encourage their interests. Support your child’s emerging interests. For example, if they get excited about solar energy, take them to a local university lecture on the subject. Nature outings can help you raise healthier children who appreciate and respect the environment. Enjoy your time together and celebrate the natural wonders that are present in every community.

Teenager winter hiking in the mountains

Trevor M from Pixabay

Whether you hike close to home or plan a vacation that includes hiking adventures, there are lots of ideas to choose from.  Start your kids young and plan nature hikes with your kids as soon as you can.  They will gain tremendous respect for the environment.  This respect is so very important to instill the ideals we need to curb climate change.  Kids who hike will be the guardians of our Earth.

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