1. Bring snacks and plenty of fluids
Make sure to stop and drink frequently. Kids may be so interested in their new environment that they don’t realize how thirsty they are.
2. Pick a short, interesting hike
Choose a trail with a destination such as an overlook, waterfall, historic site, stream or lake. Allow them time to investigate interesting things along the way. The National Park Service recommends these hikes in the Smokies for kids.
3. Think safety first
Give each kid a small pack with a healthy snack and a kid-sized water bottle. They may also be old enough to carry their own jacket. Put a safety whistle in each pack. (If the kids don’t have their own pack, attach the whistle to a zipper pull.) Ensure that they know stay put and blow their whistle in 3 sharp bursts if they get separated from you.
4. Dress them in layers
The climate can change from the bottom of a trail to the top. Rain can come out of nowhere. Be prepared for the changes. If you have several kids, especially ones that may want to run ahead, dress them in bright clothing that’s easy to spot.
5. Have fun and be flexible
Your kids won’t want to hike again if they don’t have fun the first time. Change your plans if things are not working out.
For more tips about hiking with kids, go to https://americanhiking.org/.