Summer fun for kids
The most important thing to do when taking youngsters on a hike is to find a trail with a fun destination.
That’s the advice of Mary Ellen Gillilans, author of “The Vail Hiker” guidebook, a collection of local hikes, complete with directions, distances and helpful hints.
“My criteria for a kid’s hike is that it has to have a play destination,” Gilliland says. “It should also be a short trail, fairly level and smooth.”
Gilliland advises to outfit kids the same as adults, with plenty of water and sunscreen, good sunglasses and shoes and healthy snacks for along the way.
Like most parents either living in or visiting the High Country in the summer, my wife and I think it’s almost a sin to stay inside on a nice day. So we prod and cajole to get our kids up and at ’em.
Support Local Journalism
But be careful what you wish for. A poorly planned hike can quickly devolve into a trail of tears if the route chosen is unsuited for short legs. For the longer-legged ones, too easy a trail is “boring, boring, God I want to die of boredom and can we go to the mall now please?”
How, then, to please everyone? The simple answer is you can’t.
But you can placate the masses by taking a tolerant view of things. For example, if you really want to get the little ones out for a short, easy outdoor activity, get the bigger kids involved in the fun, then promise them you’ll do something for them later. Who knows? They might even have some fun (although they’ll never admit it).
The basics of traveling with family apply to any activities in the Vail Valley: Plan it out but be willing to adapt to changing circumstances. And most importantly for parents, be the very quintessence of patience and know when to pull the plug when necessary. When all else fails, there’s always the hotel pool or the Playstation back home.
Vail Daily Assistant Managing Editor Alex Miller is the proud father of five.