Since moving back to San Diego we have gotten out of our groove.  There have been no more weekly family hikes, which I have been missing, I think the kids have been missing them too.  My husband has still been hiking with his friends, but for one reason or another, the family hikes had been forgotten about.  We need these though.  They get us out in the fresh air, give us much needed exercise and we get to spend time as a family doing something that we love and exploring a new area.

Last weekend we decided to have a picnic and then hike around Batiquitos Lagoon area in Carlsbad.   The weather was perfect for it.  Although it was hot, there was a cool breeze blowing.

Batiquitos Lagoon hiking

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Family hike carlsbad

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Batiquitos Lagoon Trail

Hiking in Carlsbad
There are 6 miles to hike in the Aviara trail system, and we did a little over 4 of them.

Hiking map

Here are my tips for hiking with kids.

Hiking supplies

Hiking Kit:

We keep a cooler bag filled with supplies at all times, this way we don’t forget anything that we need on the day of the hike, we can just throw the bag into our backpack and off we go.  This is what we have in our kit:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Asthma medication
  • Lip Balm
  • A roll of bags
  • Emergency supplies: blanket and a whistle
  • First Aid Kit: Bandaids, antibiotic cream, bandage, scissors, tweezers, sting relief, pain medication


We normally begin our hikes by enjoying a picnic together.  This way the kids are fueled up and ready to go without hearing “I’m hungry” and “I’m thirsty” 5 meters down the trail.   Here is a sample of what we take:

  • Sandwiches
  • Trail mix
  • Apple sauce pouches
  • Fresh fruit/veg: Grapes, apples, bananas, carrot sticks
  • Dried fruit
  • Gatorade and lots of water.

Keeping kids happy

My husband has been designated backpack carrier because I’m normally taking photographs.  We each have a child designated to us for hand holding up hills and to keep track of on the trail because one may want to stop and look at something while the other wants to run ahead.

Dress your child in light clothing.  Keep shoulders covered and wear round-neck or collared t-shirts to protect from the sun.  Have them wear long lightweight pants, socks and comfortable shoes.  This will help protect them from bites and poison oak.  Always take hats, sunglasses and jackets too.

Take a break.  We stop regularly for a drink and snack breaks.  The kids get to sit down for a few moments, enjoy their surroundings and re-fuel before we get back on the trail.

Explore different trails regularly.  If you take the same trail over and over there may not be much that is new for your child to see, and they will also know exactly how far they have to walk after a while and it is sure to become mundane which means they will be less likely to want to go.  By mixing it up and exploring new areas they always have something new to see.

We like to make our hikes educational too.   Here are a few things you can do:

  • Take a magnifying glass
  • Let the kids take photographs
  • Have them count how many animals they find.
  • Do bark rubbings – make sure to pack some scrap paper and crayons
  • Let them stop to observe ants and bees; teach them about the seasons and how what they see now will change; inform them about berries and poison oak
  • Take a map:  We keep both our GPS and a hard copy of a map on hand.  In the event that we lose reception on our phones, or our phones switch off, we always have a hard copy too.  Kids are very visual, they may not understand how far 6 miles is, but if you show them on a map how far they have come and how far they have to go they do understand.  Our kids love looking at our GPS on the phone because they can watch us moving back toward things such as water, or the car.  It helps to give them a sense of direction and teaches them how to use this technology that we have available to us.

You can view more about what we shop for, how we prepare and more photographs of our hike here.

Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias

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cat@juggling act September 1, 2011 - 4:31 am

I have not been here in such a long time =- but thanks for all the great tips.

Doug September 26, 2011 - 3:39 pm

Great advice and nice pictures too.


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