Start kids hiking early, author urges


“You need to get them out there young. My son was on the Appalachian Trail at 8 weeks old,” says author and hiking expert Jeff Alt, who has hiked the 2,160-mile trail.

His new book: “Get Your Kids Hiking” provides tips on gear and motivation to help families with kids of all ages get outside to hike.

“We hiked the Natural Bridge in Kentucky when my daughter was 10 weeks old. We didn’t stop traveling because of our kids, we just added some more gear. We carried my daughter with us across Ireland when she was 21 months old. Every day, we were walking along the coast, having lunch on a castle lawn. The quality time that you spend together is priceless. Each phase of a child’s life is so short, and you’re teaching them a healthy habit that will last their entire life,” Alt says.


The book grew out of a seminar Alt has been giving at the Shenandoah National Park to help families be better equipped to hike in the backcountry.

“Every kid is exposed to an iPad at an early age; they also need multi-dimensional outdoor time. We all benefit from being outside in the sun in green places,” Alt said.

When I asked about kids with allergies and asthma, Alt said his son has both.

“There’s a chapter on hiking with a child with special needs. A child who can’t walk, can be carried. You could still visit Yosemite, but they may be on horseback,” Alt says.

“Get Your Kids Hiking” retails for $13.95 and is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble bookstores and other retailers. Alt says an electronic edition for Kindles and Nook will be released this week.


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