The inside track on helping any child find their inner hiker.

Take a hike! A guide to surviving autumn with children and a smile

Most kids are not huge fans of hiking. At least not from a very young age, and certainly not the way we, as their parents, envisage it.

Does your child feel like a hike (or not)?

Most kids are not huge fans of hiking. At least not from a very young age, and certainly not the way we, as their parents, envisage it. But our experience has shown that with a little patience and imagination, as well as taking into account our children’s perspectives, the effort can pay off with long-term effects.

 

Everyone starts small

Children get tired more quickly than adults and of course have shorter legs. You should consider this when you plan your route. The general principle: less is more. You can always ramp it up later!

Children don’t care how many meters they manage in an hour or how high the next summit is. They mainly look at the ground and discover stones, weeds and little creatures just off the beaten track. They would rather wander around daydreaming than head straight to their destination. Children should be allowed to enjoy this thirst for discovery at their own slow pace. If we parents push them to go faster or fail to build in breaks, the effect will be counterproductive.

“Look, Mom, it’s walking as slowly as I am!”
“Ha! Our photos are just as good as yours, Mom!”

Kids enjoy themed hiking trails

Kids love stories. No matter what they are doing, they love to hear a good tale about it. Hiking is also much more exciting and a whole lot easier when a story surrounds it. That’s why kids love themed hiking trails like the Planetenweg from Uetliberg to Felsenegg. You can find the wide range of themed hiking trails on offer in canton Zurich here.

Mysterious places have a magical attraction

Sometimes, all a place or destination has to do to inspire a child’s spirit of adventure and encourage them to visit is to look mystical and magical, or appear in a myth or legend. An example of this is the mini Stonehenge on Zurich’s Käferberg, with its six marvelous “menhirs”.

… or an elephant in the Küsnachtertobel which, according to legend, was said to have been used as Hannibal’s war elephant. When he arrived at the stream, he was tired out and stayed there. He was freed from his burden and turned into stone. Is there really any child who wouldn’t want to visit that right away?

Taking the train is always a draw

There’s no child alive who wouldn't be excited about hiking if a train journey of some kind is involved. If we make smart use of this option as parents, we can turn a hike into an exciting adventure even for children who don’t like to hike. The city of Zurich alone boasts a few exciting railways that would be the perfect complement to any child’s hike: the Üetlibergbahn, the Felseneggbahn, the Dolderbahn, the Rigiblickbahn and the Polybahn. Which also goes to show that you can “hike” with your children in the city, too!

 

The icing on the cake: a picnic! Everything tastes twice as good in the fresh air.
Shrouded in legend: a mini Stonehenge in Höngger forest

Water can help you cool off and change things up

Children will always welcome a break by the water during the hike, if we as parents can plan the hike accordingly. Ideally, you will be able to swim in it, or at least let your feet cool off and make a splash skipping stones across the water! Remember: You don’t just have to climb great heights. Why not try hiking along the banks of the Limmat or around one of the many lakes in canton Zurich?

Extra things to do are a distraction from the effort

If the kids are busy reading maps, taking photos or collecting stones, they will soon find hiking twice as easy! Give this trick a try – it has a 100% success rate!

The icing on the cake: a picnic!
Everything tastes twice as good in the fresh air! For parents and children alike, a hike simply wouldn’t be the same without a picnic in the great outdoors. And if we’re being totally honest, it’s often the best part. The way to a person’s heart may well be through their stomach – but it's also a way to make them love hiking, too!

 

An article by:
Die Angelones:
Rita Angelone
As a mother of two sons aged 10 and 12, every day of my life is an adventure. We love pasta, football and more. We’re sporty, nature-loving, passionate and down-to-earth. For the Children’s Region, we are striking out on the trail of the coolest leisure activities for you!
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