How many times has someone told you to “take a hike”? Chances are they weren’t concerned with your health. When it comes to trying to get healthy and spending time together as a family, going for a hike is a great option. Here are some ways you can turn a hike into more than a walk.
Places to go – Depending upon which state you live, you should be able to find local parks, state parks or national forests nearby that you can explore. You don’t have to travel long distances to find a great place to hike. If you can’t find an established area to hike, perhaps you can someone with several acres that will allow you to hike on their property. Remember to always ask for permission and to leave the property better than when you found it.
What to take with you – What you take will depend upon the time of year. Since summer tends to be hot, it would be good to take plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and a charged cell phone. You may also want to carry a camera or notebook to capture the beauty of nature. A light weight jacket and rain gear would also be advisable if you believe the weather could turn on you.
Safety concerns – No matter where you choose to go on your hike, it is a good idea to bring along a first aid kit. It doesn’t have to be big, but should hold the basics. Plan out the route of your hike so you know what to expect as far as terrain is concerned. Let several people know when you will leave home, how long you plan to stay and when you expect to return. It is also wise to check in periodically if you plan to be gone all day or longer.
Nature watch – Being outdoors in nature can be relaxing and full of wonder. Children that are hiking with you will especially marvel at the sights and sounds if they have never been hiking before. Choose specific animals you will try to find while on your hike. You may also want to try to identify the trees along the path. Rather than removing items from the hike, take along a camera to capture the item on film.
Bird watching – Bird watching is an activity that enthusiasts around the world enjoy. You can check a book out of the library that has pictures of the birds in your area. You may also be able to find similar information online. Some websites will include bird call audio so you can listen as well as “watch” for birds on your hike. Start with a list of birds you expect to see. Check them off as you find them and see if you can add any that aren’t on your list.
Scavenger hunt – Children, as well as adults, love a scavenger hunt. Someone creates a list of items to find while on a hike. The list could include: Red oak leaf, moss on a standing tree (look on the northern side), a heart-shaped rock, raccoon footprints or anything you can imagine. Again, rather than removing the items from nature, choose to carry a camera to keep track of the items you find and leave them where you find them for others to enjoy.
A hike can be a relaxing event or it can be a flurry of activity depending upon your own desires. When Dad and the family decide to ‘take a hike,’ it is sure to be a refreshing way to improve your health and your relationships.