How To Plan a Snowshoe or Hiking Outing With Kids

For most of us, snowshoeing and hiking are perfect activities in their own right. They allow us to exercise, and during winter, it provides peace through a snow-covered landscape, among other things. But it might be just a little too peaceful and calm for kids, especially the younger ones. A little planning, though, can create a fun snowshoe or hiking experience for kids and also satisfy your own needs.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you plan your next snowshoe hiking outing with your kids.

1. Know your audience

As with any activity, it helps to know your audience. What do your kids or the kids who may be joining you enjoy? Are they animal lovers? Are they old enough to search for fine details or to be challenged with species identification?

Do they have experience hiking or on snowshoes already? Or should you be incorporating games and activities to get them used to the movement and using their snowshoes? Below are suggestions for games and activities.

Read More: Snowshoeing Education 105: Let The Games Begin!

2. Plan your route

Although knowing your route is essential with any activity, it becomes especially crucial for kids.

Understanding what adventure you might find along the way goes a long way in creating fun. You can build up excitement or stop for a break at a landmark along the way.

Furthermore, knowing how far your return trip is can ensure it is suitable for younger bodies that may not have the stamina that a more extended trip requires. Especially when snowshoeing in winter, shorter trips (half of the distance your child hikes typically during the summer) are more desirable for kids.

Read More: How To Choose A Trail: Tips For Learning When You Need Snowshoes

adult and child snowshoeing

Plan and prepare so you can have a great snowshoe or hiking outing with kids. Photo: Shutterstock / Lane V. Erickson

3. Bring the goods

Even the best of times can be spoiled by a bad mood, an unexpected incident, or a just-in-case not that you didn’t prepare for on your outing.

Pack snacks

For hiking or snowshoeing, snacks and water are essential to keeping energy levels and dehydration at bay. For kids, snacks and water can also provide a necessary distraction and something to occupy their hands and minds. So, pack enough water for everyone on the hike and plan for various snacks. You could also include a special treat worth looking forward to once you reach your destination.

Read More: Best Healthy Snacks To Take While Snowshoeing

Extra clothing accessories

When in snow or hiking near water, it’s always a good idea to pack extra clothing items such as mittens and socks. All it takes is one too many tumbles in the snow for mitts to become wet and unwearable. Just one spill into deep powder can result in a snow-filled mitten that will need time to dry. Furthermore, you don’t want those feet to get wet! You never know when snow might sneak into boots or slips can happen in a stream. Best to be prepared so you’re not marching home with wet socks, which in the winter can be downright dangerous!

Read More: Cover the Extremities: Prepare for the Snowshoeing Season

Bring a sled

Depending on the kids’ ages, it might be advisable to pull along a sled to carry some of the extra gear and help make sure everyone makes it out in one piece. Finishing the walk by sledding or taking a break with a sled ride while enjoying a snack may give young ones a break they need, both physically and emotionally, to get through to the other end.

Read More: Ten Tips For Making Snowshoeing Fun With Kids

woman and four kids sitting in the snow wearing snowshoes

Remember to prepare by bringing snacks, extra clothing, and a sled if needed. Photo: Lane V Erickson via Shutterstock

4.  Play some games

Games are a great way to keep things fun and interesting while snowshoeing! Try a few of the activities below for some extra entertainment.

Try walking games

Add a few games to make the walking part of the activity fun. Questions/ activities like:

  • Count how many steps it takes you to reach that tree up ahead.
  • Let’s try sidestepping from here until that rock.
  • Who can get from here to that bend in the fewest steps?
  • Can you make your steps go all in a straight line?

You get the idea. Make walking an adventure with little games, even shorts races scattered here and there, and you’ll keep kids busy and entertained.

Plan a scavenger hunt

Whether you plan for a prize at the end or leave the joy of discovery to be the prize, kids love scavenger hunts. Know the area you’ll be traveling to, and you can pick out some fun finds specific to the site, such as a unique tree along the way or a fork in the path you know exists. Even if you haven’t walked the path before, there are some typical winter finds that can keep kids alert and engaged as you walk.

If it’s a sunny day melting icicles on trees, dripping snow, shadows, and wet bark can be easy finds. If the day isn’t sunny, icicles at different heights – up high on trees, at eye level, or even a count of the number of icicles they can find can be entertaining.

Have the kids look for animal tracks and then give extra points for guesses about what kind of animal it might have been. See if you can spot any furred or feathered creatures themselves. Look for remnants of bird’s nests, signs of berries birds might still be able to eat during the winter, or traces of scat. Come on; you know kids love finding poop.

See if older kids can identify different trees or find samples of different kinds of leaves that may be lying on the ground or dead but still dangling from branches. Look for moss growing on trees, signs of animal dens, or holes in trees that could be providing shelter for some winter creature.

How about pine needles, a frozen flower, dried or wet sap on a tree, an enormous rock they can see, or two stones that look alike, icy water, a living insect…? Just because the world around you seems similarly white doesn’t mean it will not contain dozens of hidden treasures.

Read More: Letterboxing: A Good Old Fashioned Treasure Hunt

Try geocaching

Geocaching has been around just since the year 2000. Its history is quite interesting. Mainly it involves the practice of leaving something behind, marking it, and then hoping others can find it. Some caches are traveling caches. Visitors to these caches are encouraged to take an item, leave an item, and then reposition the piece they have taken somewhere else in the world. Others are just for looking – not to be taken – but may have a log within for you to record your name and home.

There was a time that caches were primarily found through GPS locations posted on the web, which you then needed a GPS and excellent mapping skills to find. Now, technological advances mean that you can download maps directly to tablets, iPads, and phones. Then, built-in GPS locators will lead you to the spot.

Be aware, especially in winter, that a well-placed cache will be above the snow-cover, so once you reach your destination, you may need to look high, as well as low.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of finding caches, you may even want to leave one of your own and can plan an outing around finding precisely the right location.

Read More: Snowshoe Geocaching: Searching For Booty

green geocaching card via geocaching.com

Geocaching is a great game to add to your snowshoe outing with kids. Photo: Heather Seftel-Kirk

Go Snowshoeing Or Hiking With Kids

Whether you are a passionate snowshoer, a beginner, or someone who likes to dabble in several different winter activities, taking kids along for the hike can kindle the same interest in them and help create a generation of active winter enthusiasts.

What recommendations do you have when snowshoeing with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

Read Next:
Start ‘Em Young: Snowshoes For Kids Two To Teens
Choosing Snowshoes & First Snowshoeing Outings With Toddlers & Kids

The article was most recently updated on November 28, 2021

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