We are back from Europe and I finally found some time to continue my thoughts about our experience of Alpine hiking with our young daughter. I am just so excited to be able to report what a good experience it was! Check out REI for some great tips and discussions as well on hiking with children. I always enjoy their informational articles. On a side note, I’m already planning a new hiking trip for myself with some girlfriends for later in the year. Smoky Mountains, here we come!
While we were in the German Alps, we stayed in the town of Garmisch. We have military resort lodging to use there and it makes travel in Europe very enjoyable for us. It is also about an hour and a half from the Munich airport so it is our “base” for preparing to return to the United States. Garmisch is a resort and vacation village right in the heart of the German Alps and so classically breathtaking in beauty. You just simply cannot go wrong there! During the summer months, hiking is one of the biggest draws for European vacationers. One can purchase a hiking map and explore hundreds of trails and never run out of the beauty of nature.
Since we were hiking with a 6 year old, we knew any trail we were to follow needed to be no more than about 4 miles. The trails in this region often have inclines and can get you into some altitudes so 4 miles with inclines and steep descents can be a workout!
Our first trail we chose was through the famous gorge, the “Partnachklamm“. The first 2 miles is the relatively flat walk to the gorge from the Olympic Stadium and then through the gorge itself. The tricky part comes after, hiking up a mountain on a muddy trail that is significantly steep and then coming down the other side at a very sharp incline. Our little girl handled it well!
Our next major hike was the following day (no rest for us!) at the Eibsee lake. This lake rests at the foot of the largest mountain in Germany, the Zugspitze, and is a favorite swimming and sunbathing spot for vacationers. We hiked the entire circumference of the lake with inclines and declines and it mapped out as 4.2 miles. For some reason, this hike took us longer than the previous day’s gorge hike that also was 4 miles. We stopped more with this one for scenic nature exploration.
We found “magical woodland cottages”, an activity when the little one felt tired from walking. She was instantly distracted from her grumblings once she discovered how fun hunting for the “magical creatures” could be.
Other hikers on the trail stopped us so our daughter could see the little frog they had discovered.
Finding the perfect hiking stick was also a fun activity for our daughter and instantly made the excursion more fun.
What I learned as a take-away from our experiences hiking with our daughter that I can pass along as advice:
- She can physically handle 4-6 miles. Gauge these distances with your own child, each child is different in terms of physically stamina and abilities. We have a high energy child so this was in a range that worked for her.
- Bring your own hiking pack with snacks and water. This is a no-brainer! Kiddos get thirsty and hungry and fun treats along the way keep them entertained. I always had some gummies and granola bars on hand. Kiddos also might not want to carry their own heavy backpack, plan to only carry your own adult one.
- Bring a jacket along, even if the hike starts out warm. Sometimes getting in the shade or higher elevations can bring on cooler temperatures.
- Make fun activities for the kiddos to tackle on the hike. Hunting for the right hiking stick, finding magical creature cottages, looking for frogs, and other tasks will give the kiddo a distraction from the length of the hike.
Teaching children to hike and be in nature is one of the most wonderful things we can do for our children. In our modern society, we spend so much time non-mobile, from cars to the Super center to back home for Nintendo DS time. Encouraging children at a young age to be physically active teaches them a life skill – being movable! Besides fitness and sports, the act of just walking is something we need to bring back as a valuable lifestyle.
Are you planning any Fall hikes this year with your children and family? If so, where to?