Are you kidding? Hiking with children in Rogaland
By Ute Koninx, iventureout.com

Are you kidding? Hiking with children in Rogaland

Like many families in Norway, we started hiking with our children when they were quite little. In fact, at the very beginning, we carried them around in back carriers.  As we explored different places over many years we learned what to pack, where to go and most importantly, how to keep it fun. And yes, it felt daunting at times to get started. So hopefully, this post will help encourage those with a young family to head outdoors.
12.June 2024 Ute Koninx

Because you should absolutely get out and enjoy the amazing Norwegian ‘friluftsliv’ with your children in tow. Immersing them in nature is a superb way to channel their seemingly boundless energy.  It builds their confidence as their motor skills improve and their feelings of independence increase. And it simply is a wonderful opportunity to spend time together. It allows you, as a family, to experience adventures and overcome challenges together. No doubt, it will build a rich collage of memories that you will cherish in years to come.

 

Nevertheless, there are a few things to take care of when hiking with children. First and foremost it should be fun for all. If you all liked it, it is more likely you all will want to do it again. And  being prepared goes a long way to having fun. Each age group, each family and child is different, so testing out ideas and tips from different sources is useful. Here I give you some of mine.

 

Hiking with babies is relatively easy, as it is the adult that will carry the baby as well as all the other gear. They will most likely spend most of the time dozing or sleeping, but generally love being outside and as they get slightly older will find everything and everyone interesting. Start with small hikes to build your stamina and enjoy the feeling of getting fit.

 

Toddlers are maybe the most difficult age for hiking. Just let go of your expectations, in terms of distance covered and time hiked. Choose a short hike to start with, ideally with some early exit points, or points of interest where you can stop for a while. Bring plenty of food, some toys or a book, and a larger roll up mat, where you can sit and rest. The islands around Stavanger are ideal for shorter, yet exciting outings. Take the ferry to Vassøy, Langøy or Lindøy, hike around the island, then relax at the beach until it is time to take the boat home again. Yes they will get dirty, so bring a change of clothes for the kids as no doubt they’ll love to play at the muddy water’s edge. And take bathers if it is a nice day!

 

A tried-and-trusted approach is to go with another group of adults with toddlers to a hiking area with a nice camping spot. While you with some adults look after the toddlers, others can hike and when they come back it is your turn. If you bring enough of a picnic, games, books and time, it is easy to switch over, because daylight hours now allow for long days in the great outdoors.

There are several, great places around Stavanger to do this. We love the area around Dale with the Søsterhytta and the beach. The toddlers will have a superb time there, while the adults can hike up Lifjellet. Storaberget in Sandnes is also a great choice, because the “toddler group” can walk up to Grindavatnet to relax and play at the lake, while the other adults go up the hill. Or try Sokkaknuten. It is only a short hike until you reach Eikeltjørna where you can set up camp, while allowing the hikers to get up to Sokkaknuten and enjoy a fantastic view over the Lysefjord.

 

We found that once children are 4-5 years old it gets much easier to hike, and this holds until they become teenagers. Take into consideration that while their energy levels might seem boundless, their stamina is not. Yet, you might be surprised at the distances and heights they can cover if you take them to interesting terrain. As a rule for us, a seemingly easy walk in flat terrain was an absolute no go, while getting them going up and down, scramble over rocks, crossing creeks and having picnics around lakes and beaches kept them going. The secret is enough rest, enough food and drink and involving them in the adventure from preparation to finish. Let them have their own small backpack, with a snack and a water bottle, and space for collectables. Maybe you can prepare the food together, and have some recipes that you only make when you go into the outdoors. Then after the hike, be sure to make time for the memories, look up what stones they brought back, or leaves or feathers they collected. Write and record together, giving space to the achievement and joy of the outing. In Rogaland the options for hikes with this age group are really almost endless. The beaches and mountains of the region are your playground here. As an important aside: this group can get impatient if you take too long to get ready. Make sure that you have everything in place well before the outing starts, so getting out of the house is not going to be a drama.

 

That leaves the older age group of teenagers! Admittedly they form a chapter by themselves, for another post. In the meantime enjoy the endless, wonderful summer days in Rogaland together with your loved ones.

 

If you are looking for more ideas, tips and hikes, see our book at  https://iventureout.com/lysefjord-and-beyond

 

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