I never really thought of myself as a hiker per se, but over this past year when we didn't really have many options for activities, going hiking became a regular habit. It is family friendly, free (mostly), and there are multiple options. It's also a good excuse for a snack break. Dave and I have also hiked in Nevis, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2012, around the grounds of various castles in Sintra, Portugal, and in Maui. In addition to some local hikes we did with the kids this fall and winter, we also hike while camping, and when we were in Lake Placid.
These are our hiking habits:
- We prefer to find hiking trails that are free, not ones where you need to pay an entry or parking fee. Not that we don't like those places too, but we know there are free ones so we seek those out first. A simple hike around High Park or in the woods by the Humber River are also good solutions when we don't want to leave town.
- Our kids can do a maximum hike of about 6 km round trip so we look for something between 4 and 6 km.
- Our favourite types of trails are loops, rather than an out and back.
- We had hiking sticks that Dave and I bought in Peru. The kids usually pick up a a stick or two to use as their own hiking sticks.
- We also bought hiking boots for Peru and then just in the past couple of years realized we could be using them for just regular hikes in Ontario (we also took them to Hawaii) so even though we may not always need them, we wear them anyway. We recently got E his own hiking shoes and will pick up some for Q at some point, they are much sturdier than sneakers for grip and waterproofness.
- We bring snacks and water, and in the winter we bring hot water in a thermos to make hot chocolate/instant coffee/cider on the go. The promise of a snack and drink keeps everyone moving.
- We usually take a photo of the posted trail map to consult along the way.
- Bonus points if there is any sort of thing to find along the trail - trails in Algonquin have numbered sign posts with commentary in the brochure and Claireville Conservation area has tree geocaching - this keeps the kids moving even when they are getting tired. The regular trail markers are also enough to keep Q interested.
- We rarely see any wild animals other than some squirrels and birds, we are too loud to sneak up on any animals on the trail.
- I love any time of year for a hike but I do think that I love fall the most, I cannot get enough of those fall colours.