Research The Area Before Hiking With Kids


Do some research before your next hike with kids.

Spend a few minutes doing research before your next hike. Here are some benefits of and examples of what to research.

I strongly recommend taking a few minutes to learn something about the area you are about to visit before hiking. Try and learn at least two nature facts about the area.   Then while hiking if you see the thing that you learned about beforehand you can share that fun fact with your kids.  Both you and your kids will gain a deeper appreciation of the area.

researchHow To Do The Research?

One excellent source of information is to use the Internet and do a google search. You can try searching the name of the hike and read different descriptions to see if a particular flower or animal is mentioned as being common in the area. Then you can learn about that.

You can go to the website of the land management agency where the hike is located, such as the Forest Service, BLM, or National Park Service. Those websites can be a bit confusing, but they do have lots of good information.

Another option is to read hiking guides or nature guides. Some of the books do provide some common flowers, trees, or animals you are likely to encounter.

Keep in mind the season when you are doing your research. For example, in the spring you may see buds on trees opening up.

Examples Of What To Research

If you will be hiking near a pond you could decide to learn the name of a common dragonfly.  Then when you see it you could talk to your kids about dragonfly’s wings.  They have four wings that are attached to their bodies independently of each other.  This allows them to have incredible control when flying such that they can fly forwards, sideways, up and down, or even backwards.

Or maybe you can research a couple of the common birds in the area.  Don’t just learn the names of the birds though.  Dig a little bit deeper and learn something about the birds’ behavior that is neat and you could share with your kids.


You may have a junior ranger on your hands soon if you do your research.  Photo via Flickr.

Benefits Of Doing Research Before A Hike

The number one benefit is that you and your family will learn about the natural world. If you go for weekend family hiking trips then you will all learn much more about where you live.  You will gain more of a sense of place and understand how the natural world changes throughout the year.

Before you know it you will have some junior naturalists who are ready to start sharing their knowledge of the natural world with you.

A secondary benefit, and just as important as the first one, is that this information will give you something to help make the hike fun and interesting for your kids. For example, you could tell them about a common flower and ask them to keep a look out for it.