Hiking has long been a passion for us and one we knew wouldn’t go away when we had kids. Especially when we travel, we find hiking to be one of the best ways to get away from the crowds and experience the region in a completely different way.
Now that we are traveling with kids, we enjoy getting out of the cities and having them out in nature. Our goal is to teach them a love and appreciation for nature, and we can’t imagine a better way to do that than getting them out hiking all over the world on some of the best kid friendly hiking trails!
There’s the added bonus when hiking with kids, that you can let them explore more freely on their own. Out of the city, there’s a calmness that comes with hitting those kid friendly trails. You can let them wander and explore, just make sure to leave plenty of time since they often want to stop for every bug along the way.
Since we are always on the search for hiking destinations to visit with kids, we asked fellow parents to share some of the best hikes for kids around the world. We’ve added in a few of our favourite hiking trails for kids too. Caution: Our list of places to visit just got a lot longer and we are certain yours will too!
(Don’t miss our tips for hiking with kids and kids hiking gear at the bottom of this post)
Best Hikes with Kids Around the World
- 1 Best Hikes with Kids in North America
- 2 Best Hikes with Kids in Europe
- 2.1 Pravcicka Brana to the Wild Gorge Loop – Czech Republic
- 2.2 Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia
- 2.3 Catbells in England’s Lake District – England
- 2.4 The GrænagilCanyon at Landmannalaugar – Iceland
- 2.5 Arnarstapi to Hellnar – Iceland
- 2.6 Adolf Munkel Trail in the Dolomites – Italy
- 2.7 Imbros Gorge on Crete – Greece
- 2.8 Molde Panorama – Norway
- 2.9 Bachledka Treetop Walk in Slovak Tatras – Slovakia
- 2.10 Panoramaweg – Switzerland
- 3 Best Hikes with Kids in Oceania
- 4 Best Hikes with Kids in Argentina
- 5 Best Hikes with Kids in Asia
- 6 Top Tips for Hiking with Kids
- 7 Hiking Essentials for Kids
- 8 Pin It For Later!
Best Hikes with Kids in North America
Barron Canyon Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park – Canada
The Barron Canyon Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park is an amazingly epic hike for families. Located on the east end of Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario, it’s most convenient to access from the Sand Lake Gates if you are a day visitor. You will need to obtain a park permit from the park office to hike Barron Canyon Trail with kids.
The trail itself is only 1.5 kilometres and is a loop up to the amazingly scenic north rim of the Barron Canyon. It’s uphill for the most part, but not difficult at all. This trail is moderately trafficked and once you reach the canyon, it’s pretty level.
There are no barriers at the rim and a fall off the ledge would indeed be fatal. Bringing children or anyone for that matter on this hike is a risk, but one that is manageable. I would never advocate leashing your children in any way, shape or form, so they also need to understand the risk of their environment.
The view is so worth it!
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Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park – Canada
If you are up for some incredible mountain scenery, Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park is where you will find it. In the summertime you can visit the popular Sunshine Village ski hill and experience it in a completely different way. You’ll get to take the gondola or a bus up to the village. The gondola was only running Friday to Monday when we went but there was the option to take a bus. From there you’ll ride the Standish Chairlift up – don’t forget to look backwards as you ride to catch all the breathtaking scenery behind you.
Once at the top, you start at the Standish Viewing Deck. Prepare to be blown away! We were hiking Sushine Meadows with our two kids (aged 5 & 3 years old) plus my parents, so we chose the easiest trail.
From the Standish Viewing Deck we hiked down to Rock Isle Lake and the Rock Isle Viewpoint. We chose this path since we knew we would be hiking down the entire way, making it easier on everyone. We were lucky to be there when all the alpine wildflowers were in bloom. From Rock Isle Lake, we hiked down the Rock Isle Road back to the Sunshine Mountain Lodge where we caught the bus to take us to the parking lot. In all the hike was just under 3 km / 1.8 miles and was an easy hiking trail for kids.
Even if it’s a warm day, bring extra layers. It can be significantly colder at the top and the weather can change quickly. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen, plus bring some food for a picnic – you don’t want to rush your time up there!
Havasupai in Arizona – USA
If you’re from the States or are well-versed on famous hikes across the globe, you might know of one situated in the Southwestern corner of the U.S., just outside of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Named Havasupai, this hike is one of epic proportions and should be added to your bucketlist. Picture a desert oasis of stunning red rock canyons (such as though pictured in the Grand Canyon), accentuated with turquoise waterfalls and creeks and lush greenery dotting the landscape. It is truly a sight to behold!
To get to Havasupai, the closest big city from the trail head is Las Vegas, and then it’s a 4 hour drive south before you make it the trailhead. It is best to sleep at a hotel at the nearest town, Peach Springs, or better yet, camp at the parking lot the night before so you can get an early start on the trail the next day. If you’re hiking in the hotter months (April-October), you might even consider starting your hike in the middle of the night to avoid the middle of the day heat. This trek takes you 8 miles from the trailhead to the Havasupai village where you pick up your permit (secured ahead of time), and then hike an additional 2 miles to the campground where you set up camp. There are also lodging options in the village if backpacking/camping isn’t your style.
With new rules and regulations as of 2019, not only is it required that you get your permit ahead of time (permits open Feb 1 of each year), you also must stay TWO nights now. Staying two or even three nights will give you the best experience too–you won’t feel rushed, and you will also have a day or two in between to enjoy the amazing waterfalls of Havasupai: Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, 50 Foot Falls and Navajo Falls are the main ones. If you are up for an extra adventure, consider hiking to Beaver Falls, an additional 6 mile round trip from Mooney Falls and even farther, you can hike to the Confluence, where Havasu Creek meets the Grand Canyon. Well worth the extra mileage!
Hiking Havasupai with kids is possible, however, we recommend if you want a more enjoyable experience to go with older kids or kids that are very experienced at hiking longer treks since it’s a 20 mile trek at the bare minimum. For all our tips, info on the hike, sample itineraries, and packing list for this hike, go to our blog post on The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Havasupai With Kids.
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For another family’s perspective, read about Rad Family Travel’s hike to Havasupai Falls with kids ages 9 through 16.
Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park – USA
Two fantastic, exploding waterfalls put the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park at the top of the list for all levels of hikers. The most popular trail in the park, the Mist Trail is moderate to strenuous hiking, depending on how far you go. Hike Mist Trail with kids during the week to avoid huge crowds and enjoy the views at your own pace.
This hike will zap most of your energy for the day. Take lots of water, snacks, and wear appropriate gear.
All hikes begin at: Happy Isles (shuttle stop #16)
You have three choices of how to enjoy Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall along the Mist Trail with kids, depending on their ages and your stamina:
- Hike to the Vernal Footbridge only. Only 1.6 miles round trip with a 400 foot elevation gain, this is a moderate hike that takes about 1 -1.5 hours. You can easily do this with ages 0-8 years old. Be prepared to carry little ones at some point.
- Hike past the Vernal Footbridge to the top of Vernal Fall, then veer towards the Clark Point Cutoff to hike the John Muir Trail back down, making it a 3.5 miles loop. At a 1000 feet gain, this is a strenuous hike that could take 3-4 hours. Great for ages 8 and older.
- Continue hiking from Vernal Fall to the top of the Nevada Fall via the Mist Trail, making the total hike 5.4 miles with a 2000 feet elevation gain—a strenuous, 5-6 hour long hike. We did not do this section, but teenagers could definitely do this!
NOTE: The hike to Vernal Fall includes a slippery granite staircase with constant mist from the falls. You will get very wet. Wear a rain jacket and sturdy shoes. Take your time and pay attention. Know before you go.
You can learn and see more about how to prepare for hiking Mist Trail with kids.
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Diamond Head in Oahu, Hawaii – USA
We’ve gone hiking all over the world with our kids and one of their favorites by far is Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii! Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, it can be busy. But they loved it anyway.
Diamond Head is located on the far southern end of Honolulu – you can’t miss it from anywhere along the beach in Honolulu or Waikiki! The trail that takes you from the inside of the caldera to the summit is 1.5 miles each way with a 500 foot elevation gain. The trail is in pretty good shape, but closed-toed shoes are advised.
Our 4 year old managed the trail without trouble. Thankfully the trail alternates between sun exposure and shade and there are also benches placed periodically to allow for a rest if necessary. The trail can get congested (especially on the viewing platform at the top) but our kids didn’t mind and easily found other kids to hike with. They rated it “two thumbs up” and even asked to go again another day!
You can find more great easy hikes on Oahu.
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Not sure what to pack? This post has a great list of what to pack for Hawaii with kids.
Watchman Trail in Zion National Park – USA
Of all the hikes we did in Zion National Park with kids, this was one of the best! Watchman trail is 3.3 miles / 4.3 km roundtrip and leaves right from the visitor center, meaning you won’t need to catch the shuttle!
The trail itself is great for hiking with kids, as it’s not that long and though it’s a climb up, that portion is short enough that kids can manage it. We hiked it with our 5 and 3 year old who managed to hike the entire trail. It’s a moderately difficult trail since it is a steady climb, but the incredible views the entire way up are more than worth it!
At the end of the hike you’ll find a large flat plateau, the perfect spot to stop and take in the scenery. You will get stunning views of the entire valley from this point. And if you are lucky, you’ll even get to see the California Condors soaring overhead.
Make sure to bring plenty of water, hats and sunscreen for this hike. It’s typically recommended to start this one early, as it can get incredibly hot on the trail. We found it to be busiest at this time and it was much quieter on our way down (we took plenty of time to soak in the views at the top), which makes sense on a hot, sunny day. If the forecast calls for a cooler or overcast day, don’t worry about rushing out first thing in the morning.
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For more great hiking with kids in the USA, check out our posts on Hiking around Asheville with Kids, Kid Friendly Hikes in Shenandoah National Park and Family Friendly Hikes Along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Read this post for more information on visiting Shenandoah National Park with kids.
Best Hikes with Kids in Europe
Pravcicka Brana to the Wild Gorge Loop – Czech Republic
Prague had long been on our list of place we wanted to visit, but as is usually the case, the more we researched the Czech Republic the more places we added to our itinerary. It ended up being the perfect place to hike with young children, as most of the hikes we did were fairly easy and interesting for the kids. One of our favorite hikes with kids in the Czech Republic was hiking the Pravcicka Brana to the Wild Gorge Loop with kids.
Though it was too long for our two kids (who were 4 and 2 years old), at 20km for the full loop, we were able to carry them for small portions of it when their little legs got tired. The hardest part of the hike was the climb up to see the Pravcicka Brana (the largest natural sandstone bridge in Europe). This section is about 2km / 1.2 miles. Once you pass Pravcicka Brana, the trail is either descending or flat. This is also where it gets fun for the kids as there are towering sandstone cliffs along the trail that kids will enjoy climbing on.
The trail continues down through Menzi Louka, through the forest and deep gorge. The wooden paths lead to a boat dock that will take you through the gorge on two different boats. You’ll finish up with a 20 minute hike back to Hrensko.
We did this hike in April, so the boats weren’t busy and we didn’t have to wait long to get on. Keep in mind that in high season you might be spending more time waiting for a boat.
This is a long hike but the changing scenery throughout makes it well worth the effort!
Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a bucketlist destination! We were lucky enough to visit Plitvice Lakes with kids while spending a few weeks in Croatia. Our first afternoon actually ended up being a bit of a disappointment due to the crowds, but we made up for this by being there at opening on our second day.
Since we were at Plitvice Lakes with a toddler and preschooler, we made sure to bring along a way to carry them (we love these toddler carriers for travel). We were planning on getting the most out of our second day, which we ended up hiking 18 km in total.
On our second day, we started at entrance 2 and walked along the shores of Kozjak Lake to the Lower Lakes. We were just approaching the waterfalls when the crowds started to arrive, so we put the kids in the carriers for the narrow boardwalks (learning a lesson from the previous day). From the Big Waterfall, we took a more secluded trail with some incredible views then spent much of the rest of the day on the other side of Kozjack Lake. The kids loved this part of the hike, especially when we had to take our shoes off to cross sections that were flooded.
We decided to add on a second visit to the Upper Lakes since the paths seemed less crowded than the previous day and our toddler had fallen asleep in the carrier, making it a long day of hiking. But the scenery is enough to keep you going!
Catbells in England’s Lake District – England
If your family likes a little adventure with your hike, check out Catbells just outside of Keswick in the Lake District of England. Although it’s considered of modest height for a fell in the area, hiking Catbells with kids offers a nice challenge for ages 4 and older plus incredible views.
The fun begins with a short boat ride across Derwentwater to get to the trailhead at Hawes End. For the first quarter mile, it’s a relatively gradual climb through a wide trail in the forest. Once you turn onto the rocky trail that climbs the mountain, however, it turns steep very quickly. In fact, the trail climbs nearly 1500 feet in just one and a half miles.
Upon arriving to the first peak about halfway up, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake and town below and the mountains and valleys all around. The hike continues with easy open trail along the ridge at first, but eventually takes you to a near-vertical rock climb where you’ll get to scramble up the “trail”. This scramble is what I think makes this such a fun hike for kids; they can feel like rock climbing champions. It’s only a short distance from the top of the scramble to get to the top of Catbells.
There is plenty of open space at the summit for taking panoramic pictures of the surrounding countryside and enjoying a picnic lunch.
For returning back to Hawes End, there are a couple of options down, including returning the way you came or going down the trail on the lake side of the ridge. If you choose to do the latter, it will add on about a half mile, but you won’t have to navigate the descent of the rock climb. If you haven’t had enough walking, you can always opt to walk along the lakeshore path for an additional 2 miles to return to Keswick instead of taking the return boat across the lake.
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The GrænagilCanyon at Landmannalaugar – Iceland
Located in the highlands of Southern Iceland, Landmannlaugar is a great day hike for the family. It is a three-hour drive from Reykjavík and I strongly recommend hiring a guide for the day as the roads are gravel and there are some river beds that you need to drive through. The roads are only open to the public in the summer months, stretching to the end of September due to weather.
The GrænagilCanyon hike at Landmannalaugar takes two-hours and starts with an uphill mountain walk and continues through lava fields and eventually to a valley. Kids will enjoy passing between sulfur-spewing hot springs in the side of the mountain as well as looking for lava glass, made famous from Game of Thrones as being “Dragon Glass”. The lava field can be a bit tricky to navigate due to the uneven rocks, so make sure if you are with young kids to help them with their footing. Upon arrival to the valley you will be able to view the rhyolite mountainsides, green, bronze and yellow colored rocks, a big draw of the area.
After the hike, there are natural hot springs in Landmannalaugar, perfect for tired, sore muscles. There is a changing area and bathrooms. However, the changing rooms are a bit far from the entrance to the springs so be prepared for a mad dash in the cold. The water is warm, even hot is some areas, with a pebble bottom and if you dig your hands down, you can feel the heat from the geothermal energy rising.
The weather is cold and windy. Make sure to dress in layers and bring a hat and gloves. Good hiking shoes are a must especially with the lava fields. Bring water and snacks as well as there is nothing to buy anywhere around the area. Brings towels and swimsuits for the natural baths.
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Arnarstapi to Hellnar – Iceland
The hike from Arnarstapi to Hellnar on the Snaeffelsnes Peninsula in Iceland is a wonderful kid friendly hike. Anyone visiting the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with kids should add this to their list. This family friendly hike is approximately 1.5 miles / 2.5 km one way. If you start it in Arnarstapi, you’ll immediately appreciate the views of the rugged coastline.
The trail is an easy one and stays relatively flat, though you’ll want to keep small children close as there are some dangers of the trail getting close to the edge of the cliff. The next portion will be through a lava field where it can be a little more difficult to find your footing over the lava rocks (especially if it’s raining). The trail changes again as you near Hellnar and it transitions to a wide wooden boardwalk.
Our 4 year old was able to do this entire hike herself and our 2.5 year old did almost all of it except for small portions when he wanted to be carried. Make sure to bring extra layers for this and any hiking in Iceland with kids as the weather can change quickly!
Adolf Munkel Trail in the Dolomites – Italy
We have done so many amazing hikes all over the world that it’s really tough to pick just one. Recently we spent a week hiking in the Dolomites (Italy) and fell in love with this incredibly scenic area. One of the nicest family-friendly hikes of the Dolomites is Adolf Munkel Trail along the Odle/Geisler mountain group.
Adolf Munkel trail is a base walk that follows sharp mountain peaks of Odle – Geisler, known as the most beautiful massif of the Dolomites. There is very little elevation difference and this hike is quite easy and doable for families with kids from around 4-5 years old. You may need to help the youngest members of the family in the beginning, as the first section goes a little bit uphill. But after the first half an hour or so, it’s mostly flat.
This is a circular walk of +-9km that you can make a bit longer or shorter, depending on the route you choose. Hiking time is about 3 hours, but expect to spend at least a few hours longer here. About halfway through the hike there is a mountain hut Geisler Alm where you’ll want to linger around for an hour or two. This mountain hut has the most incredible scenic location, a restaurant, and a beautiful playground area for the children. You’ll never want to leave!
Adolf Munkel trail starts at Zanser Alm parking area.
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Imbros Gorge on Crete – Greece
The Imbros Gorge on Crete is an amazing hike to do with children. The total hike is 8 kilometres and takes around 2,5 hours. You walk on the bottom of the gorge over rocks and sand.
It is the little sister of the Samaria Gorge which is a hard and 18 kilometres walk. So it is a great way to walk one of the famous gorges of Crete without training and enjoy the amazing views.
You descend a bit over 600 meters and the narrowest part of the gorge is less than 2 meters wide! This is a famous picture point.
When I walked it in 2017, I saw a lot of kids from around 5 years and up walking it on their own. The kids I babysat were 7 and 9 years old and loved the walk. They even thought it was not long enough. As a travel guide, I advise that kids around 4/5 years can walk part of it on their own, but might think it is a bit too long and too hot.
In summer, you will walk a lot in the sun. It can get pretty hot, but there are free water points and places with shadow to cool down.
It is easy to get there with a car. You can take a taxi from the end back to your car or walk the hike back up. There are also a lot of excursion companies that can take you.
When you are on Crete, Greece, Walking the Imbros Gorge is definitely something that you should do. But please, do bring enough water, use sunscreen and wear a cap. Enjoy!
Molde Panorama – Norway
Norway has some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen! We visited when our kids were 4 and just under 2 years old (it was our last trip before having to start paying for the seat when flying with a toddler). We were still able to do some epic hikes with our children since we traveled with these child backpack carriers. But we also wanted to do some kid friendly hikes.
During our road trip to see the Atlantic Road and Geirangerfjord, we stopped for a couple of days in Molde. The top recommended hike in the area that was a distance that we thought the kids could manage was the Molde Panorama.
The hike up to the Molde Panorama, to get a view of the 222 snow covered peaks, was 1.5 miles / 2.5 km one way. Though it was a steep climb, the kids managed to walk most of it up themselves. As we were hiking through the forest the clouds appeared as did some fog. We continued with the hike, though not optimistic that we would get to see the view we came for once we got to the top.
It was one of those moments that becomes a lasting memory. Just as we reached the top, the clouds and fog lifted for a short time and we were in awe of the panoramic view. And just that quick it was completely hidden again.
There are a few benches and a cabin at the top, so we stayed a while and let the kids play. There’s also a café along the trail on the way up.
We recommend being prepared for rain at any time while out hiking in Norway (see all our suggestions for what to pack for Norway with kids). This was proof that the weather can change so quickly!
Bachledka Treetop Walk in Slovak Tatras – Slovakia
The Bachledka Treetop Walk at the ridge of Spišská Magura in Slovakia, close to the famous Zakopane in Poland, is one of the best hikes to do with kids. The 1,234-metre trail will take you through a wonderland of wild forests, plants, and wildlife, making it an interesting and educational walk for both adults and children.
As you walk through the trail, you will find a couple of adrenaline sites, that will surely thrill your kids. The first one dares you to balance over a gap that may seem dangerous but is actually safe. If you dare, take a walk on top of the 32-metre tower with a net that hovers over the ground below. For the summer months, a toboggan ride down a 67-metre slide is also included in the number of trail attractions.
Created with care, the stunning treetop walk ensures that the stunning trail can be accessed by kids of all sizes. At the gift shop, one can get a baby carriage free of charge.
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Panoramaweg – Switzerland
The beautiful Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland is one of the best spots we’ve found anywhere for family hiking. The high altitude trails are easily accessible via cable cars and trains, there are amazing playgrounds everywhere, and there is a great selection of hikes for every ability level.
One of our very favorite hikes is the Panoramaweg from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg. This easy, 3.5 mile one-way trail has spectacular views of the Jungfrau and Eiger, mountain lakes, and lots of cows to spot along the way. The trail is quite flat, so even younger children who are just beginning to hike will be able to handle it just fine. The Panoramaweg is also doable with a sturdy all-terrain stroller (although after seeing a few families struggle with a stroller on some parts of the trail, I’d recommend using a baby carrier instead).
The trail begins in Männlichen (elevation 7306 feet). You can reach Männlichen by cable car from either Wengen or Grindelwald. Before beginning the hike, make sure to stop at the fabulous playground, which even includes a huge cow slide.
The trail head is very well-marked: simply follow the yellow arrow signs for “Panoramaweg”. The trail itself is well kept and it does tend to get busy, but the views are worth it! The walk ends in Kleine Scheidegg, where you can take a final train back down to Wengen.
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Best Hikes with Kids in Oceania
Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island – New Zealand
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a spectacular hike through the volcanic heartland of the North Island of New Zealand. Frequently labelled as New Zealand’s best day hike, it’s a challenging 19.4 km hike. Although a long distance it is doable with older kids who have some hiking experience. Our boys were 8, 10 and 12 when we did this hike. Although the only kids we saw on the crossing that day, they managed it fine. It remains our favourite day hike of all time (and we’ve done a fair bit of hiking!) The trek takes you through a remarkable volcanic landscape, with crazy rock formations, mighty volcanoes, moonscape vistas, and beautiful coloured lakes. The views are spectacular throughout.
The hike is best started early as will take the best part of a day. Firstly climbing the Mangatepoppo Valley to the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe, through the South Crater, before climbing again to the RedCrater. This is the highest point on the crossing at 1886 metres. At this high point on the hike you have the most amazing views in every direction of the Tongaririo National Park. You then descend on volcanic scree to the Emerald Lakes (take care here), then onto Blue Lake. The track then follows the northern slopes of Tongariro, before zig zagging all the way down the mountainside. This finishing stretch goes on for a long time!
The Tongariro Crossing takes somewhere between six and eight hours to complete. It is a one way hike, which means it is best to arrange transport to and from the finish, which is easy to do from the local village. All provisions must be carried on the hike, including food and drink and extra clothing. The Tongaririo Alpine Crossing can be subject to unpredictable weather and can be closed to hikers.
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Best Hikes with Kids in Argentina
El Chalten in Patagonia – Argentina
The small town of El Chalten in Patagonia, Argentina is known as a hikers paradise. Located in Los Glaciares National Park, El Chalten is surrounded by the incredible scenery of the Fitz Roy Massif and the Vueltas River valley. Walks in El Chalten are of varying difficulty and duration, and start from the edge of town. You are guaranteed jaw-dropping views whichever direction you choose.
There are simple walks for families with younger children such as the Mirador Los Condores or families with older children or teens could tackle the challenging Laguna Torre or Laguna De Los Tres hikes.
Our children were 11, 9 and 6 when we visited El Chalten and we hiked every day of our stay. Our favourite walk was the hike to Laguna Capri, starting from the northern edge of town. It was a scenic 4-5 hour, 12-kilometre walk with both steep and gradual inclines. The hike passed through diverse scenery which kept the kids engaged. At times the path hugged an open hillside with wonderful views of the Rio de Las Vueltas but at other times it wound through dense forest. The walk leads to the gorgeous, crystal clear Laguna Capri with beautiful views of the Fitz Roy Massif. We spent time exploring the lakeside and our children bravely paddled in the glacial water! It was a fantastic, memorable hike.
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Best Hikes with Kids in Asia
Diamonji in Kyoto – Japan
Our trip to Kyoto with kids was the first time we planned on doing a decent amount of hiking with them. We eased ourselves into it by choosing a spot where we could do plenty of hiking right from the city and that could was accessible by walking to the trailheads or from public transportation. We were ecstatic to learn that we could do that from Kyoto. Hiking, culture and amazing food – it sounded pretty ideal to us.
Since our kids were still small for our trip to Japan, we traveled with two backpack carriers allowing us to do more difficult hikes and carry the kids (who were 3 and 1 years old). We did our best to let our 3 year old do as much of the hiking as she was up for, but our 14 month old wasn’t walking yet.
This trail is perfectly paired with a visit to Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion. You start the hike up Mt. Diamonji from the trailhead which is just down the road from the Silver Pavilion. It’s 1.9 miles / 3.1 km total, though short it is steep in parts. The trail transitions from paved to a natural trail and includes some wooden steps along the way and concrete steps at the top.
The views over Kyoto at the top are so worth the climb up! We really loved the family friendly hikes in Kyoto and would recommend other families get away from the crowds and enjoy some of the scenery and temples found along the trails.
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Everest Region – Nepal
It has always been our dream to hike in Nepal and doing it with our three kids, made it even more special. Our kids wanted to see Everest and while we weren’t ready to go all the way to Everest Base Camp, we did a fantastic 8-day hike in the region. I would only recommend this route for kids over eight as it is strenuous and you have to be cautious with the altitude. If you are looking for a shorter hike in Nepal, the Poon Hill hike is very popular with families. While our kids are fairly experienced hikers, it was their first time doing a multi-day hiking trip.
Over 8 days, we walked over 90 km, reaching 4,400 m. Being budget travellers we organized the trek ourselves, but did hire a guide and porters. Walking in the Himalayas is absolutely breathtaking with the snow-capped peaks, Buddhist prayer flags, wheels and Monasteries, and picturesque suspension bridges. Each night you stay in a simple family run teahouse, nourish yourself with Nepalese foods and get ready for the next day of walking. Doing this trip with another family gave the kids buddies to hike with and gave us more cooperative little hikers. It truly was a trip of a lifetime and a great introduction to multi-day hiking for our family. Learn more about our 10 day trek in the Everest Region with kids!
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Top Tips for Hiking with Kids
- Be prepared for the elements – Hiking in different climates around the world, we do our best to plan ahead and pack extra gear for the kids. This might mean packing an extra sweater or rain gear, just in case.
- Proper hiking shoes – Kids like climbing over tree roots and on rocks. They also like running down trails and doing things on their own. We want them to be supported and not slipping all over the trail, so we make sure our kids have proper hiking shoes.
- Bring a lot of snacks – This one probably goes without saying, but snacks are always the key with kids. Nobody wants to get to the point of having hangry kids at the furthest point on the trail. Bring more snacks than you’ll need. We also like to bring a special surprise for them for the end of the hike.
- Know when to call it – This can be a challenge for parents, I know it is for me. I don’t like to turn back when I don’t make it to the viewpoint or waterfall, but sometimes it’s the right call for everyone. There are times when the kids will be just too slow to finish the hike, or everyone is getting tired and cranky. Sometimes it’s best just to turn back and try another day.
- Give yourself plenty of time – Kids like to stop a lot. We love having them in nature but it can be frustrating how often they want to stop to explore. We’ve learned our typical “pace” for hiking with our kids, so now we plan for it.
- Plan for breaks – Taking frequent breaks helps everyone keep their energy up and keep going.
- Make it fun – We love the accomplishment, the time in nature, the views, pretty much everything about hiking… but kids don’t always appreciate the same things. We try to make it more fun for them by playing games (Tag or I Spy are great ones that you can easily do while walking) or even hiding fun treasures up along trail (best for young kids). A scavenger hunt is another great way to keep kids engaged and moving forward on a hike.
- Choose trails with interesting things for kids – For some hikes we don’t need games, because the hike itself is interesting enough for kids. These usually end up being trails with fun rocks to climb or rivers to throw rocks into.
- Sing songs – When all else fails, singing some of these hiking songs for kids will usually uplift everyone’s mood!
- Give your kids a chance to show you what they can do – Don’t underestimate your kids! We’ve been shocked by the distances our kids can do on several occasions. We’ve seen them do hikes most adults wouldn’t do, granted it took us much longer but they did it!
Hiking Essentials for Kids
This isn’t everything we carry with us, but it the must-haves that we bring when hiking with kids:
Note: we love shopping on Amazon, but a store that specializes in outdoor gear usually has the best selection. We’ve included a link to many of the products below on Backcountry.com.
- Water and snacks – Water and snacks are the most important thing to have lots of. We carry a water bladder in our backpacks for extra water, but also like the idea of the kids carrying their own water in a hydration pack like this CamelBak Hydration Pack or this one by Osprey.
- Kids hiking backpack – Our kids like to bring toys and pick up treasures along the way. They have their own backpacks for this and we’ll throw a small snack and their water bottles in too. Even as a toddler our son had a toddler hiking backpack.
- Kids hiking shoes – It’s not cheap, but we buy our kids proper hiking shoes. We find the best hiking boots for kids are mid hiking boots and are waterproof like these kids hiking boots from Keen.
- Convertible pants – when we hike we typically will wear convertible pants. They are the perfect solution for climates where you might need to switch from pants to shorts. We also like that they dry fairly quickly in case you get rained on. Convertible pants, like these from Columbia, are one item of kids hiking clothes that we plan to test in the near future.
- Fleece jacket – Cold kids don’t make for happy kids… One other item of kids hiking clothes we recommend bringing is a fleece jacket for warmth.
- Sunscreen – obvious but always important.
- Hats – our favorite hats to keep the most sun off our kids are the Sunday Afternoons Kids Play hats. We like how they cover the back of their neck too and they have a wide brim to protect their faces.
- Rain gear – Rain jackets and pants don’t take up a lot of space, so they are worth bringing. We found it to be invaluable especially when hiking in places like Iceland or Norway.
- Child Carrier – Sometimes you want to do a hike that’s just a little too much for those little legs or you are hiking with a baby. We rarely go on a hike without a way to carry one or both of the kids. We shared our favourites in our Baby Carriers for Travel post on our Baby Can Travel site. For hiking with toddlers, our top 3 would be the Deuter Kid Comfort 3, the Lillebaby CarryOn Toddler or the Piggyback Rider. We started using a baby / toddler hiking backpack carrier for babies or toddlers when daughter was 6 months old and haven’t looked back.
Shop this entire list of Kids Hiking Gear Must Haves on Amazon!