How to Make the Most out of Hiking with Kids and Pets
Within each of the seven luxury communities here at The Cliffs, you will find miles upon miles of private trails for your enjoyment. Many residents regularly partake in hiking and biking and enjoying the wondrous beauty of where they live. As the temperatures get warmer and the landscape turns bright and colorful, now is the time to take advantage of the beautiful trails within your community.
Tips for Hiking with Kids
Follow the Leader
Before you set out on your adventure, assign your child as the “leader” to serve as the guide for the group. The leader will take charge of the group and be in charge of keeping a head count. Make it their responsibility to point out and identify any unique vegetation or wildlife you come across. Rotate turns if you have more than one child in the group!
Lookout for Wildlife
Hiking with kids allows them to build a strong connection with nature from an early age. Encourage them to be on the lookout for wildlife and take a moment to stop and observe its behavior. A critter such as the average squirrel becomes more interesting when you take the time to be still and watch what it’s doing, even for just a few minutes.
Play a Game
Games are an excellent way to keep children entertained and engaged when hiking a longer trail. Offer to play “I Spy” where you provide clues about an object you are looking at and have them guess what it is. This turn-taking game can keep your child’s interest if they are starting to feel a bit tired from hiking.
Take a Break
Even the most active kids must pace themselves when hiking. In general, hiking is a very strenuous form of exercise and because your child is still developing physically, it is helpful to take a break every so often. Keep an eye on your little one and ask them how they are doing often to gauge when they need to rest. At the same time, make sure you are hiking at their pace so the adventure doesn’t feel like a chore.
Bring Energy Snacks
An empty stomach can make hiking with kids difficult, so food is essential on the trail. Bring light, healthy snacks that can be eaten on the go. Apple slices, carrot sticks with locally made hummus, granola, and popcorn are all great choices to pack. This tip also goes for water, so be sure to bring plenty and encourage them to drink often to avoid dehydration!
As you may know, children can be a bit headstrong when it comes to getting dressed. You will want them to be comfortable during the hike, so take a look at the weather and determine what type of outfit is ideal for your excursion. A good set of hiking shoes is preferable over a pair of sneakers, so they are worth getting if you plan on hiking more in the future.
Choose Your Trail Wisely
Always start with an easy hike! As mentioned, even the most active kids can have a hard time navigating sudden elevation changes. Hiking within your community at The Cliffs is ideal for kids as you can head back home whenever necessary, without the need to drive to and from the trailhead.
Tips for Hiking with Pets
Make Sure Your Dog is Able to Hike
A dog that isn’t normally active or is older in age will have a tough time when hiking. Be sure your dog has been checked out by a veterinarian before you begin bringing them on regular adventures.
Also, keep them on the trail as much as you can to lessen their chance of getting ticks or fleas, while also avoiding interactions with snakes, raccoons, porcupines, and the like.
Pack Food and Water
Your dog will also need food and water to keep them going! Bring small treats or a handful of kibble to give your tired dog something to nibble on. Keep in mind, this should never be more than a half cup, as it can be dangerous for dogs to exercise on a full stomach or immediately after eating a meal.
Bring Enticing Treats
Along with a snack, bring their favorite strongly-scented treat just in case of an emergency. This will come in handy if they decide to chase after an animal and are not coming back when called. Only give them this treat if necessary, and reward them with it after the hike if you didn’t need to use it.
Update Identification Information
Every pet, regardless of how well-trained, needs updated identification. If your pet has yet to be chipped, you can have this done at their regular veterinarian’s office. The vet will simply insert a small chip underneath their skin that you can register with your contact information in case they ever get lost. In addition, a visible collar with tags will make it known to anyone that finds your pet that they are in fact missing and not a stray, and prevent them from being taken to an animal shelter.
Bring a Whistle
For the pets who like to venture off trail, teaching them to recall at the sound of a whistle can help them find you if they wander too far. Start the training process by using the command “come” along with the whistle to build the association. Eventually, you should be able to use the sound of the whistle and the command interchangeably.
Pet Pest Protection
Summertime leads to undesirable pests, and keeping your pet protected against them is vital for their health. For example, ticks can spread a handful of diseases to your pet, including tick paralysis. Heartworm, a dangerous parasite that blocks blood flow to the heart, is contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito. Make sure your pet has been on a regular flea & tick and heartworm preventative before allowing them to be off leash in wooded areas.
Enjoying Nature at The Cliffs
Use these tips to ensure every member of your family has a fun and safe time out on the trails! By keeping your children and pets healthy and engaged in the activity, you can make the most of your hiking excursions together.
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Above image features the Allen family hiking at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls.