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5 Tips for Hiking with Kids this Summer

It's the middle of summer and families are looking for ways to go outside and make memories, even in the summer heat. Use these 5 tips to help you prepare for your next big adventure!


This first tip might seem obvious but it is still worth saying. When hitting the trail with kids make sure you have more water than you think you actually need. My go-to items are a 2L water bladder, 1 water bottle per child, and 1 extra Nalgene bottle as a back up.

Adventure Parent Pro Tip: Cut down how much weight you’re carrying by getting small water bladders for older kids and teach your younger ones to use your bladder; even young toddlers can learn to use a water bladder bite valve to get a drink!


The key to any successful adventure with kids is simple: snacks. And when it’s hot outside snacks are even more important to keep their energy up so they stay motivated. Try naturally hydrating snacks like fresh fruits and puree pouches for young kids. And just like water, always pack more snacks than you actually think you need.

Adventure Parent Pro Tip: Choose 1 snack that is a special Adventure Snack your kids only get on the trail. A unique trail mix, or even just a specific granola bar works great!


Kids are incredible adventure buddies, but they can also be unpredictable. When it comes to planning a hike with your kids, be ready with a few back up plans and have loads of grace with yourself and your kids if the adventure doesn’t go according to Plan A. Remember, you got out the front door! And that is fantastic!

Adventure Parent Pro Tip: Before you hit the trail, use Google or Apple Maps to locate the nearest ice cream shop. Not only is the promise of ice cream super motivating to get kids moving, but when an adventure isn’t going as planned and everyone is disappointed to be heading back to the car, an ice cream treat will help cheer up your family! Long story short, always get ice cream after a hike.


When hiking in the summer heat, nothing beats splashing in a cool stream or feeling the mist of a waterfall on your face. Use tools like the Starved Rock Hikers website and social media accounts to scope out the best water features.

Adventure Parent Pro Tip: Make space in your backpack for a microfiber towel and a change of clothes for your kids (or for older kids, have them carry their own!) No one likes to hike in soggy pants.


Your kids might be super excited to hit the trail running at first, but don’t be surprised if your new walker or even older toddlers are begging to be carried half a mile into the hike. Make your life easier by going prepared with a way to carry them comfortably. I personally love my Osprey Poco structured carrier. Other options include soft structured carriers like the ones made by Ergobaby or the TrailMagik that attaches directly to your hiking pack.

Adventure Parent Pro Tip: Many structured carriers come with a sunshade which is, of course, great for keeping the sun off your little’s delicate skin but it is also great for when you’re walking through an overgrown area where the sunshade can also protect their face from loose branches.

This story was originally written by Liz Christensen, an avid hiker from the Midwest. It was edited and published by the Starved Rock Hikers team.


Liz Christensen is an adventure mom, yogi, and wife in the beautiful Midwest USA. She loves including the whole family on adventures, including their rescue dog, Penny. When not on the trail you’re likely to find her on a mommy and me coffee date with her son.

Find her on Instagram @midwestmamahikes

Have story, tip, experience, or something to share on our Trail Talk blog? Please send us an email at with 'guest blog' in the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you!

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