Let’s Take a Hike: How kids can have fun, stay safe and mind their manners on the trail

Children walking through forest

9 rules for staying safe on the trail

Stay within sight of an adult. You are less likely to get lost or injured when your adult hiking buddies can see you at all times.

Stay on the trail. Getting lost is scary. Sticking to the trail is your best bet for a safe and fun hike.

If you get lost, STOP. Don’t move. It’s easier for adults to find you if you STOP and stay in one place.

Carry a whistle. A whistle is much louder than your voice. In an emergency, a whistle will help others find you or your group more quickly.

Bring a first aid kit.  Even for short hikes, a small first aid kit is a must.

Carry water and snack. You’ll get thirsty on the trail. A snack will give you an energy boost for the hike back.

Wear good foot gear. Sturdy shoes (no flip flops, please!) with a closed toe will give you good footing and protection on the trail.

Be prepared for the weather. Dress in layers so you can adjust to heat or cold. Add a light rain poncho and even a surprise rain shower won’t dampen the fun!

Wear insect repellent and sunscreen. Remember to check for ticks and other buggy “hitchhikers” when you get home.

Mind your manners on the trail

Leave what your find and take only photos.

Bring your trash home with you. (Yes, even uneaten food.)

Stay on the trail.

Say “hello” to other hikers.

Turn down volume on cell phones.

Scavenger Hikes

A scavenger hike is a great way to sharpen your senses and raise your outdoors I.Q.  These two “seek and find” treks will make you look up, down and all around while on the trail. (Remember: You only need to find the object with your eyes. You can bring a camera and take photo souvenirs to remember your hike.)

Color and Shape Hike

  • Trees and leaves in shades of green – but look more closely! See if you can find a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes while on your hike.
  • Heart-shaped rock
  • Blue flower
  • Square or rectangular hole in a tree
  • Yellow leaf
  • Diamond-shaped leaf
  • Pink rock
  • Y-shaped branch
  • Spotted insect
  • Star-shaped flower
  • Orange mushroom
  • Triangle imprint in mud or dirt
  • Red bird

Animal Signs

Wild animals will often use the same trails and paths as human travelers. Stop, look and listen for these signs of animals along your hike.

  • Paw prints in dirt or mud
  • Hoof prints in dirt or mud
  • Tree (upright or fallen) with holes from animals or insects
  • Feathers
  • Fur
  • Leafs and small branches chewed by animals or insects
  • Scat (animal droppings/poop) along trail
  • Birds chirping
  • Squirrels chattering
  • Trampled grass along main trail
  • Sounds of chipmunks, rabbits or mice running to hide in underbrush
  • Sneaker or boot prints on trail (You are part of nature, too!)

5 tips for successful hiking with your tykes

Family hiking: Trout Run trail in Perry County is nature’s jungle gym

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