Hiking with children

Tips from Franz Christoph Weinberger, based on experiences with his children, Siri (5) and Luis (1)

Hiking is fashionable – so are families. What could be better than packing the kids up and setting off on a hike? It’s not quite that simple, though. So that a planned family excursion doesn’t end in disaster, parents have to keep a few things in mind. Here are some of the things you should think of to ensure that your hike with children is great fun:

The tour needs to be chosen with care!

Tour planning can mean the success or failure of your hike. You have to remember that children need about twice as long as adults for the same route. That’s why it is especially important to choose a tour that’s also suitable for children’s legs. The rule of thumb is that, especially for children under six, one hour is enough.

Besides the length of the route, you should also pay attention to the terrain. Steep inclines and also dangerous spots where they could fall are out of the question for small children. The best tours are those that you already know yourself, so that you know what awaits you. Swapping tips with other parents can also provide inspiration and fun excursions into the countryside.

Children need an aim when hiking!

Simply hiking through the countryside and enjoying the fresh air is often not that easy with children. Parents know that children can get bored very quickly. For frustration-free experiences, project “hiking with children” needs an aim.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering – a mountain lodge, where a lemonade is the reward, will suffice. But also a natural spectacle, such as a waterfall or a nature trail, can motivate children. What is important is: there must be a highlight to make it worth the hike there.

At what age are children ready to hike?

First, the term hiking must be put into perspective. Often a walk can progress into a hike. At what age children are really ready for a small hiking tour depends on their character. In principle, children should not be forced to hike, otherwise the first hike may already be the last.

It is worth starting off slowly, and progressing from tour to tour. A back-carrier can also be a good investment. When carrying children, it is important that their weight is distributed evenly on your hips. What is often forgotten: the carrier must also be comfortable for the child!

What not to forget on a hike with children

Of course, a well-packed rucksack! Children need enough fluids, and also (healthy) snacks can motivate tired legs. Never forget a sun hat and sunscreen – of course, with sufficient sun protection factor!

It is also not a bad idea to take a small first-aid kit with you. A colourful children’s plaster can work wonders for a small scratch. Don’t forget, you also need suitable shoes that provide good support. Children’s hiking shoes are ideal, of course.

Hiking with children on the Alpe-Adria-Trail

Children aged 12 or older, who are very fit and surefooted, can try stages of the Alpe-Adria-Trail. In principal: complete stages are simply unsuitable for children. But you don’t have to do a complete stage. Some can be done bit by bit, whereby the tips above should always be taken into account.

Would you like an example? Stage 11 (artist town of Gmünd – Seeboden am Millstättersee). Here you can hike the stage in the opposite direction from the west shore of Lake Millstätter See to Sommeregg Castle, and at the end you will feel like a real knight!

Stages Alpe-Adria-Trail

Weather today, 19. June 2024