By Kate Spiller, Blogger: Wild Tales of…
Spring is a time of celebration! Our earth is waking up, and sharing so much beauty. We are motivated to spend even more time outside exploring what nature has to offer. My children (ages 7 years and 4 years) seem to be on a mission to point out the changes. Bird sightings, bug discoveries, blooming trees, and sprouting seed starts have all a part of our conversations outdoors.
To take advantage of the uniqueness of spring, I'm sharing a round-up of hiking activities and tips. Sure families can do most of the items on this list year-round. However, for one reason or another, they are particularly special as the weather warms up, and the leaves and plants start to grow again!
With all the changes happening along the trail, scavenger hunts are a great way to help kids take notice! On our blog, WildTalesof.com, you can find a spring-themed scavenger hunt, but you and your children can also make up your own! A simple list will do the trick, and don't forget a writing utensil.
Break out the Binoculars
The birds, butterflies, and other creatures have greatly increased their activity with the season change. Binoculars will help you and your little ones take a closer look! Hand lenses and other magnifiers are also a great addition to the backpack as they help kids examine spring changes (leaves, flowers, bugs) up close.
If you haven't tried Geocaching yet, spring is a great season to start! Now that the snow has melted away, and the full foliage isn't back to the forest (like it will be in summer), these treasure boxes can be a lot easier to find. Geocaching can also be a great motivator for those kids who might be a little reluctant to head outside.Animal Tracking
What comes with spring showers? Mud! And mud is the perfect medium for finding animal tracks. Bring along a track identification card or book, track down some mud, and see if you can sleuth out who may have been hanging around the trail before you!
Identification with Field Guides
There is something so satisfying about being able to identify the flowers, trees, bugs, birds and other critters you might discover on the trail. A field guide, especially if it is specific to your region (or the one you are visiting) can be a fun companion to reference as you and your children are hiking down the trail. And if a field guide feels too bulky to pack along, the smaller folding pocket guides are a lighter alternative. Plus, folding pocket guides are usually species (birds, bugs, reptiles, flowers, mushrooms) specific allowing you to hone in on or theme your flora and fauna identification.
Fly a Kite.
Did you know April is National Kite Month? Wind is another hallmark of spring weather, so if you can find a windy day when there isn't a lot of rain along with it, pack a kite, and see if your family can get it flying! Beach hikes would work well for this pursuit, or have the kids on the lookout for a meadow or open hilltop as they trek along the trail.
Why not do some good, and reveal even more beauty while out getting some fresh air? Having an assignment like spotting trash gives kids something to focus on. They often forget about the effort they are putting forth, and simply work toward filling up that bag! We recommend using a trash picker/grabber, and gloves!Waterfalls
With all that spring rain and snowmelt comes a surge in our local waterfall action making waterfall hikes a must-do this time of year. My children absolutely love waterfall hikes, to begin with, so spring waterfall hikes almost provide us with double the motivation!
Spring Hiking Tips
If there ever was a season to dress in layers, it is springtime! Just heading out the door in the morning for our walk to school can be tricky. My daughter is shedding her coat and hat by our half-way point, which means I have to be smart and strategic as not to become a walking clothes rack. The clothing choices we make matter, and really do make a difference! That being said, I often reach for merino wool when dressing my kids in the spring, and here's why:
- Natural body temperature regulation: As kids go from indoor to outdoor activity (car to a trail, nature center to outside exploring) or less active to more active, they won't get overheated because of wool's breathability. Spring temperatures also vary from the morning to afternoon making wool a great choice.
- Flexibility: Moves right along the body without wearing out.
- Comfort: Merino wool is not itchy. The soft material keeps that delicate skin happy.
Smart Footwear Choices.
Remember that mud and rain I mentioned earlier? Our feet take the brunt of the work and impact as we hike. So take proper footwear with you on your adventures! Insulated rain boots with good traction and hiking shoes with GORE-TEX or other waterproofing systems are two solid choices.
What are your favorite ways to spend time outside in the springtime?About Kate Spiller
Kate Spiller lives with her husband and two children, Bergen and Georgia, in Seattle, Washington where she is a stay-at-home mom, writer, and blogger at WildTalesof.com. She loves encouraging and inspiring families to explore the outdoors together, whether that’s in their own backyard or across the world!