1. Know Your Limits. Or rather, know your family's limits. What adults can endure and do, children are not always up to. It is important to plan small hikes to start, and you can always work your way up to longer outings.
2. Be Flexible. When you realize that there are about four stream crossings, the massive Old Gnarly fell over, and you will have to dangle on the edge of the cliff where Old Gnarly used to stand to get the cache, some things might have to change. Some things are no big deal; when you can step over the stream, no problem, but a cliff is not place for a toddler, so be willing to take a rest on a nearby log or take a mini-hike in a safer direction.
3. Take the Right Gear. Think about your children's ages and their abilities. Geocaching.com includes icons on hikes that are stroller accessible (including the Timberdoodle hike featured in an earlier post). If strollers are not an option, I suggest baby wearing. Some great options for baby carriers are the Moby Wrap, ERGObaby. You will also need a GPS if you are geocaching. We use the Garmin nüvi 1250 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator. It has a car mode and a pedestrian mode. I hope to someday buy Ana (age 3) the Geomate Jr. Geocaching GPS. I think it will be so exciting for her to be able to have her own GPS when she's older. We always carry a backpack filled with zip-locks, a small first aid kit, pens, toys to trade, a notebook, work gloves, and printouts of some of the caches we want to try.
4. Consider the kids' interests. Choose places that your kids are interested in visiting too. We tend to look for larger caches because the kids love to find them and trade toys. Geocaches are everywhere, so you might even be able to do some "treasure hunts" in some of their favorite spots.
5. Breaks are vital. Hikes are tiring for little legs, so always plan on taking frequent breaks. This is a perfect time to stop and look at nature. On our breaks we have seen purple mushrooms, sparkling rocks, animals, waterfalls, and more.
7. Take time to enjoy the hike! This is your hike too, and don't let all of the planning take away from the beauty and awesomeness that you are sure to encounter. Breath deep, look, listen, and think. There is no better time to let your worries melt away than when hiking.
Tags: hiking, kids, tips, advice, help, geocaching, fall, summer, goldenrod, fallen tree, thistle, cattails