Hiking with Kids
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Hillwalking With Family

Hillwalking is a life-time sport and can be started at a very early age. Many young people’s first experience of hillwalking is with their family. Hillwalking is a great way to provide kids with fresh air, and immerse them in nature and provide a real sense of adventure.

Here are some key tips and ideas to create fun memorable days on the hills with your family:

Plan Plan Plan!

Have a plan but also a plan B, C and D – have options and be prepared to change your initial plans based on how your children feel on the day, the weather, and energy levels, to provide the “best” experience. Be prepared to turn back. Always have a bad weather plan…


Know the area you plan to take them – choose your route wisely and set the right level, start with something easy. Don’t underestimate their strength, fitness and ability! Children have smaller fuel tanks – better to give them a shorter, higher-quality experience and leave them hungry for more, than to burn them out and make the memory one of tired legs and hard work! They are not mini adults.

All the trails on the Sport Ireland website are signposted and graded.

For the more experienced and depending on your own skill level and kids age groups, there are lots of beautiful locations across the country to choose from such as the Mournes, Wicklow, North Coast, Donegal, Twelve Bens, and the MacGillycuddy Reeks to name a few.

In most upland areas there will be no marked walking trails so you will need map-reading and compass skills.

Make it Fun and Create an Adventure!

Freedom – let them make some of their own decisions. Get the kids involved in the challenge setting, let them take the lead, they will feel they’re in charge and it will also help you see what they're up to and ensure you are walking at their pace!

Attention – give them space to explore and relax and do their own thing – kids like to dawdle, so allow lots of extra time and include lots of treat breaks!

Entertainment – There is so much to see in the hills – make it fun. Have songs, make up adventure stories and games like eye-spy, or turn the walk into a treasure hunt to keep them interested. Use this opportunity to teach your children about the beautiful plants and animals that live in the uplands. Spot different trees, birds or butterflies. Take photos of plants/rocks you find and look up at home more about it. Being in the outdoors is a great opportunity to show your children respect for nature and the importance of looking after the environment.

Be a good role model – show them how committed you are to protecting the environment by collecting rubbish along the way – ask for their help, or give them a bag to collect rubbish the next time you’re out on the hill. You can even make up stories based around the items you find!

Stay Safe

The right gear is essential to make your day as enjoyable as possible. Make sure your kids keep warm and dry with some layers and rain gear. Good footwear that is comfortable and supportive with good grips is also important. You don’t need to break the bank, there are lots of brands offering reasonably priced footwear and gear. Don’t forget members of Mountaineering Ireland receive fantastic discounts in lots of outdoor retail shops across the county, see list here.

Bring lots of food and drinks – it is easy to dehydrate when doing physical activity even on the cold days and kids are no different– water is key but also a warm drink by a lake or up the hill can be a real treat. A little fruit juice in water is also a nice treat and can also help kids hydrate quicker. Prepare and bring some nice healthy snacks to keep your children’s energy levels up along the way.

New to the hills? Click here for some key information and a checklist of key items to bring with you.

First Aid – always good to have some key essentials and be prepared. Click here for more details on which first aid to bring with you.

Parents upskill – Click here to find out how you can upskill, or join a Happy Hiking Hill Skills Day to get started.

Family Membership

Mountaineering Ireland offers great discounts for family membership. We are here to help you and your family get the most out of the Irish hills. As a member you will receive The Irish Mountain Log, discounts in all good outdoor shops and a variety of other related retailers, public liability and limited Personal Accident insurance cover, lots of support, advice and information from our staff team, and access to training schemes and awards. Click here to join now. 

Start your adventure now and remember to keep it fun! It’s about the journey not the destination!


If you would like to become a volunteer or are in a club with youth members please read through the information below. Mountaineering Ireland follows safe recruitment procedures in the case of all volunteers working with youth. Click here for our Safeguarding section. 

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