How to make hiking with children fun

What to pack in the rucksack, what to look out for in terms of travel time and where are suitable trails? Together with the German Alpine Club we have come up with some excellent tips and three child-friendly trails.

It’s a beautiful day today, and the view outside is wonderful. Just put on the hiking boots and go? If the children are coming along, you should check ahead of time if there’s enough fun and variation. An expert from the German Alpine Club shares tips and hiking trails suitable for children.

1. Look at the trail through the eyes of a child

If your child is still in a stroller or a carrier, then to some extent it is entirely up to you when break time is. “If the child can already walk on their own, it is important that you take many breaks along the way, and that the path is neither too steep or slopes down too much,” recommends Martin Lehmann, an Alpine programme employee of the German Alpine Club, and father of two. The best thing to increase fun on the hike is if other children are going as well. If your friendship circle does not include other hiking fans with children, then perhaps the family groups in the sections of the German Alpine Club might be a worthwhile point of contact. They organise day and weekend trips for families all year round.

2. Turn the hiking trail into a playground of experience

To ensure that the children enjoy themselves, Martin Lehmann from the German Alpine Club recommends: “Ideally select trails that include adventures for children.” For example, creeks, gorges, pastures or caves.” The children’s hiking books, “Die schönsten Erlebnistouren für Zwergel” (J. Berg Verlag), have many excellent recommendations. If you don’t have a book or a brook, the imagination will help you. Ask your child if they know what the insect on the flower ahead of them is called. Or have a little pine cone battle. A treasure hunt is always good, whereby you walk ahead slightly, and drop tasty treats that the children have to find.

3. Calculate the hiking time before you begin

Everything takes a bit longer when you’re hiking with children. To help with calculations, Martin Lehmann recommends multiplying the duration it would normally take you to hike without children, and multiplying this by 1.5. “This roughly corresponds to the walking speed with children.” He also says: “You should also plan in lots of time for play breaks. With children of nursery school age, do not hike for more than three or four hours per day, including breaks.”

4. Pack a toy in the hike rucksack

A couple of favourite toys are important so that your child can occupy themselves during breaks. A telescope and magnifying glass are also must-haves, to get a closer look at beetles or to observe elusive squirrels and interesting birds. Other things that you shouldn’t leave home when hiking, are, according to Martin Lehmann: Lots to drink, snacks, a wood carving knife, some spare clothes, a hat or headband (even in the summer), sun protection, and a first aid kit.

5. Check out options for ending the hike early

Heights and breathtaking mountain views are simply not interesting for children yet. And despite observation towers, moorlands and streams, the mood can completely shift at some point. Sometimes it helps to give children the task of finding the right path. Sometimes not. “This is why the hiking trail must have options for ending the hike early, so that the trip can be cut short if need be,” says the expert from the German Alpine Club. This could, for example, be a short-cut to the destination, or a station halfway round the route that you can take the train home from.

Three beautiful family routes in Bavaria

Here are hiking trails that guarantee fun for the little ones. Discover the fast summer toboggan run and exciting discovery points together with your children.

The Kuhfluchtwasserfälle are located close to the Zugspitze, and are a trio of waterfalls. To get there, travel along the Walderlebnispfad Farchant (Farchant forest experience trail), Begin at Farchant station and follow the Loisach river to the car park of the Werdenfels heated outdoor swimming pool, where the hike begins. The path leads through areas of forest, through mountain pastures and past numerous discovery points. A pit allows visitors to try out whether they could compete with hares and deer in the long-jump. The animals’ respective jumping distances are charted on a board as a comparison. There is also a barefoot trail and a Kneipp hydrotherapy basin. Continue along the Königsweg path. Here you can enjoy a wonderful view of the waterfalls.

Duration of the hike: approx. 2.5 hours. Station: Farchant

The Schleifmühlenklamm gorge in Unterammergau leads through a mountain forest over steps and bridges along the gorge, to the historic cutting mills. This is where, back in the day, whetstone grinders would carve tools out of natural stones. On the way, hikers will pass seven discovery and information points. At the tree telephone, children learn how well a wooden trunk can transfer sound, and information boards describe the history of the formation of the Alps. From May to October, a summer toboggan run awaits all children from the age of eight at the Streckenbergalm meadow at the end of the hike. With a slope of up to 20 percent, the 650-metre-long run hurtles rapidly down through three tunnels and nine steep turns.
The entrance to the gorge can be reached on foot from Unterammergau station, via Pürschlingstraße, in a quarter of an hour.

Duration of hike: approx. 4.5 hours. Station: Unterammergau

The Leutaschklamm gorge is located in near Mittenwald near the border between Bavaria and Tyrol, and is the longest gorge in the Limestone Alps at 1640 metres. Metal bridges and platforms which are part of the Koboldpfad (goblin path) allow visitors to travel through the gorge at dizzying heights. The gorge is up to 75 metres deep in some places, but this is not what you should be afraid of. Reserve your fear instead for the ghost of the gorge and its goblin sentries who cause mischief here. The information boards tell you everything there is to know about the legend of this mythical gorge inhabitant. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you might even see him and his helpers. Mirrors were even place on the path, so that with the help of sunlight you can look for him even in the darkest corners of the rocks. The hike starts at the Am Köberl street in Mittenwald. This can be reached on foot from the station via Bahnhofstraße and Karwendelstraße in 15 minutes.

Duration of the hike: approx. 2.5 hours. Station: Mittenwald

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