Hiking is a great way to build family values and provides parents an opportunity to teach important lessons about respect, nature, responsibility and life through exploration. Get the whole family exercising with an outdoor adventure. Even if you feel that you are not in shape, these nature walks are the perfect place to start building your stamina and your children’s, too.
These Black Hills trails are short, family-friendly hikes that are consistently flat with easy to navigate paths. With the added bonus of gorgeous scenery and plenty to look at, you’re going to have a great time.
- Presidential Trail at Mount Rushmore
- Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon
- Mount Roosevelt outside of Deadwood
The trails may be stroller accessible, but it is strongly encouraged to leave the stroller in the car. Put your baby in a backpack or front carrier and get a little more out of these leisure walks. Any child who is too big for a back carrier can easily be walking. Resist the urge to carry slow or whining children. Take frequent breaks; there is plenty to look at (even an ant hill may leave a big impression). Don’t bribe children to exercise or go faster. Keep spirits and interest up by marching, having contests about who can find the widest tree trunk, spot a new bird or a new leaf shape.
Bring water, but don’t allow children to eat while hiking. These hikes are short enough to be completed between snack and meal times. Eating and exercise can easily cause an unnecessary tummy ache that will make the trip less than fun. When you get to your destination–snack away and enjoy the view to let the snacks settle. While you’re out, be sure that children know people food is not good for animals. Ask them what animals they think live here and what they eat to bring in some educational benefits.
Keep children on trails. They may not be able to understand soil erosion, but they can understand that stepping off the trail may be stomping an insect or an insect’s home. Leaves are how plants make their food that is why it’s not nice to pick them. Teach children about nature and they will come to appreciate and respect it.
Buy your child a disposable camera so they can focus on taking pictures of things that interest them. Let them develop their own interest in nature, you can bring your own camera to photograph what you find interesting.
Lead by example. These are truly some of the most gorgeous places on earth. Share with your children how beautiful you think they are. When you see garbage on trails pick it up. Talk about how it is not right to put trash in someone else’s house and how it is our responsibility to keep the forest nice so animals have a place to live.
Physical fitness is a positive family value. Hiking creates memories, improves health and is the perfect time for bonding. Studies show that time spent in nature reduces stress levels and that experiences provide more lasting happiness than material items. Be sure to turn your cell phone off and appreciate the fresh air. On the way home discuss what everyone’s favorite part of the forest was.