The art of adventuring successfully with children old and young is being able to balance what you want to get out of the trip with what is going to satisfy the younger members of the party. These family friendly hiking routes manage to do that. Outstanding views, some challenging sections, and a little off the beaten track for the adults, but safe, well-marked trails that can be tackled in small sections, with features that kids will appreciate too like huge trees, ancient volcanoes and warm hostel stays.
Marvel at the tallest trees in the world in California
Redwood trees are the basketball players of the forest. Some are more than 70 metres high (the oak tree is an average 25 metres) and can live a staggering 3,000 years. In fact, the tallest redwood in the world is 115 metres tall. They also thrived during the Jurassic era, which should thrill dinosaur fans. There are plenty of parks to see redwoods in America, but Muir Woods National Monument has a variety of easy flat hiking routes that all the family can enjoy.
Hike the Arctic Circle in Sweden
The King’s Trail, or Kungsleden, is a 280 mile trail running from Abisko in Lapland to Hemavan. There are 20 huts along the hiking route – some even have saunas, well-marked trails and Arctic wilderness views to die for. Ice-cold clear rivers, fields of wildflowers, glacial valleys and snow-capped mountains coupled with the smell of fresh pine and birch forests. Children will love the lake crossings – either by rowing boat or ferry. You may even spot a reindeer or two.
Take a pilgrimage in Spain
The iconic Camino de Santiago is well-known and a popular route for hiking enthusiasts. It is a networks of pilgrim’s routes to serve pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. There are several hiking route choices so you can pick the ones which are preferable to the needs of your family. Albergues along the way provide delicious food and good company, though you may prefer to book private accommodation in advance if you think your children will have trouble getting to sleep in a noisy environment.
Trek mountains in the Annapurnas, Nepal
The Poon Hill trek is a scenic four-day mountain trek that is suitable for children. Spot terraced rice fields, alpine flowers, waterfalls and many, many uphill climbs. It’s at a lower altitude than other treks, so perfect for little lungs, yet still has fabulous vistas of the surrounding mountain ranges. Teahouses to rest or stay in are plentiful, and porters will carry your stuff (and kids if they are teeny). You can choose to hike up to the top of Poon Hill for sunrise, if you have willing travellers.
Go alpine climbing in Slovakia
Extraordinary alpine scenery, and at a fraction of the price of travelling to the Alps, the High Tatra is something of a gem, and it’s ideal for children too. There is useful (and fun) cable car routes, plenty of mountain huts to stay in with good food, and a variety of hiking routes to choose from to suit your family, all clearly marked. Children will love the huts. One balances on a cliff edge. Others look out onto lakeside views or pine forests.
Kick back at the beach after a glacial walk in Norway
Though expensive, Norway has a plethora of family-friendly hiking routes, which are also close to gorgeous coastline, so you can relax after your hike in the glacial peaks. Add deep blue fjords to swim in and you’ve got a winning family walk on your hands. Cabins are a-plenty in Norway if you want to go further inland. There are over 500 to choose from.
Watch out for lava on the Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand
The Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest (and possibly most cherished) national park. The region is a World Heritage site with good reason. Its cultural, spiritual and natural significance is huge in New Zealand. Otherworldly landscapes with moonlike craters and steaming blowholes will cause gasps of awe all round, but the icing on the cake are the active volcanoes. Oh, and that it featured as Mordor in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Expand your imagination, and lungs, in Tenerife
For somewhere a little closer to home, Tenerife is a good bet for world-class family friendly hiking. Like New Zealand, Tenerife is blessed with a volcano (the world’s third largest) – the Pico del Teide – and an unusual moonlike landscape that should keep kids entertained for a while. For the very active, you can hike to the top of the volcano to gain top-of-the-world views above the clouds but the lower level scenery is just as spectacular, with solidified lava fields, tubes carved out by lava and pyroclastic rock scultures.
Watch out for baboons in the Naukluft mountains, Namibia
Serene Namibia has a number of must-do hikes. The Olive trail in the Naukluft mountains is a good introduction to hiking in this country’s desert landscape. The region is home to Hartmann’s zebra, which you may see. Baboons are rife in the nearby campsites too. The Naukluft mountains It is most definitely challenging, but the right side of, and children should enjoy scrambling over boulders and down into gorges. The scenery changes throughout the walk from sweeping vistas to rocky outcrop drops.
Escape the city in Hong Kong
For wildlife and nature lovers, the Lantau trail in Hong Kong is a dream hiking route. This 43 mile trail broken down into 12 sections passes through lush rainforest, alpine meadows, rural villages and up to Lantau Peak. There are great facilities along the route and its well signposted. Hong Kong is a dream for hiking families. There are tons of other great routes to try, plus the vibrancy of the city to explore for further adventure.