Switzerland has amazing mountains. We love hiking the mountains, especially with my older children (who were aged 5 & 7 at the time of writing this piece). The question: How to transfer a love of hiking to children? Here are 10 ideas and 10 tips to get children hiking.
Designing the hike
1) Go up! I don’t know if it’s due to short stride length, inefficiency of motion or reduced body weight, but compared to adults, children seem much better at hiking upwards than hiking along the flat. We unintentionally proved this one day by selecting a route with 8km of flat followed by 800m of climb. The 8km of flat took us four hours, the 800m hike upwards took less than two hours. Lesson for the future: save walking along the flat for the grand-parents.
2) Hike in woods. When the boys were young, they would walk much better on a woodland path than on an open footpath. I don’t know why, but perhaps it’s because a path lined with trees demands to be followed?
3) Do a one-way walk. A great route is to take the route de foret vert from La Tzoumaz around the mountain to Iserables, then take the bus back to La Tzoumaz. Be warned, the bus only runs every two hours. www.cff.ch. Another favourite is hiking from the station in Grenolier through the woods to St Cergue. The hike would take 2 to 3 hours, and we’d finish with lunch in a cafe before taking the train back down the hill to the car.
4) Hike to a trampoline, or a bouncy castle. The croix-de-coeur restaurant between Verbier and La Tzoumaz has a magic trampoline and a bouncy castle outside until the end of October. We know the trampoline is magic: we had dragged our five year old on a four hour hike, and every step he told us how tired his legs were. Within seconds of seeing his brother on the trampoline, the tiredness seemed to magically evaporate !