Hiking with children is the perfect outing. You combine quality family time with activity, learning and nature. Children can often manage longer stretches than you would think, and it’s really a matter of how you as an adult plan the walk. Here are some tips about what to consider before setting out.
Fresh air and exercise are good for people of all ages and hiking is a simple activity to get quality family time without that much preparation.
Here are some quick tips on how to get the most out of your time together on the trail.
- Take a lot of breaks for play and activity, as well as to enjoy a snack and restore energy levels.
- Talk to them about nature - the trees, the animals, the environment. Create some excitement and anticipation for the outing.
- Let the walk take the time it takes, and don’t plan too long a distance the first time.
- Bring a pair of binoculars, a magnifying glass or anything else that can help you explore nature up close.
- Hike with another family. The more, the merrier, and children tend to have more endurance when they have the company and stimulation of other children.
How should I dress my child for hiking in nature?
Dressing a child for different temperatures and different seasons is no different than dressing as an adult - follow the layering principle. Because our bodies need to cool off or warm up quickly based on our individual needs, dressing in layers is a tried and true, simple way to manage the challenge. Read more and get inspired on how to dress a child for hiking and what gear to use at the blog “Tales of a mountain mama”. http://talesofamountainmama.com/2014/08/best-hiking-gear-kids.html
How far can my child walk?
How far a child can walk is very individual and also depends on energy levels and how they are feeling that day.
From the time a child learns to walk and up to about three years of age, they love to imitate adults and are quite capable of roaming short distances together with an adult. Allow the child to stop and explore nature and make sure they feel involved in the activity. When their legs get tired, you can place them in a baby carrier. A pram or stroller with more robust wheels can also be useful.
For slightly older children who are completely independent on their legs, it’s a good idea to start with shorter stretches, gradually increasing the distance. As long as there is something exciting happening as you walk and you give them snacks at regular intervals, a child can go further than you think. Below are some tips for activities you can do on your hike to keep children motivated and happy. One thing you can do is allow your child to carry their own picnic lunch or a colouring book in a small knapsack so they get the feeling they are going on an adventure.
Tips for activating children on nature outings
It’s healthy for children and adults alike to be active in natural surroundings, but sometimes it’s difficult to convince children that it’s also fun. Here are a few tips that can ease and enrich the time you spend on Skåneleden Trail.
For younger children
Which leaf is which? Together, collect beautiful leaves that have fallen to the forest floor. Take them home and press them between two sheets of paper in a heavy book. After one week the leaves are ready, and together you can glue them to a piece of paper and label them with the name of the tree they come from.
Listen to the sounds of nature Listen carefully for bird whistles and songs and try to distinguish how many different kinds of birds you hear. Are there any other sounds?
Tired legs? When small legs start to feel tired, raise energy levels by changing walking into a game where you pretend to be different animals. Walk like an ant, an elephant, a hare.
I spy with my Leafy Binocular Eye Allow your child to find a large, fallen leaf and then have them poke a hole through it with their finger. Encourage them to look through the hole as though it were a binocular. Look up. Look down. What do you see?
What’s in the bag? An adult collects 4 or 5 things from nature (for example, moss, a pine-cone, bark) and places them in a non-see-through bag. Allow the child to put their hand into the bag and feel the things, and try to guess what they are. Then they can go on a hunt to find the same things themselves.
What’s hiding in the circle? Arrange a longer length of string in a circle on the forest floor, and then investigate everything that you find in the circle (a flower, moss, stones...an ant perhaps?) Count together how many things you can find. Compare circles in different places to see how the countryside differs from place to place.
Explore Spot something up ahead on the trail that might be fun to explore, for example, a stump, and then ask your child, “Where do you think it comes from?” or “What do you think is hiding under that big branch?” Try to build up some excitement about the experience of being out in nature, and explore it together.
For slightly older children
Recognising sounds Listen to some common bird calls at home or in the car and try to imitate them. Then try to identify the sounds you hear when you are hiking in the forest.
Adventure Sports Use nature as a natural venue for sports. Decide a course that you have to try to complete, for instance, hop over a stump, hug a tree, find a pine cone, and then run to the finish line. Use your imagination!
Make a fire! Pack a picnic lunch and hike to a campsite. Teach your child how to start a fire, explaining all the things that are important to think about. Be very certain that the fire is completely out before you leave, and remember that there may be a ban on starting a fire if it is very dry in the forests or fields.
How old is this spruce? A spruce tree gets its first whorl of branches when it is three years old and adds one whorl for every year it lives. Together, count the number of whorls that a spruce has and then add three years to arrive at the spruce’s age.
Which tree is the oldest? You can also count the growth rings on a stump to figure out how old it is. Every year a light and dark ring form in a tree trunk. Count the dark or light rings to arrive at its age. This can take a long time as some trees are several hundred years old!
How to find your way Take a map and a compass with you to the forest and learn how they work and how to use them. Allow your child to point out the different cardinal directions: north, south, east and west. Or decide to hike to a specific attraction or destination on the map.
Suggestions for family-friendly hikes
Hiking with small children
If your child can only walk for short distances, purchasing a baby carrier or an all-terrain pram or stroller for uneven surfaces can be a good investment. Here are some ideas about where you can walk with prams in Skåne for those days when tiny legs get tired.
Playgrounds at campsites and the length of the stretch are important for small hikers. Skåne’s recreation areas and visitor centres are good starting points for getting close to nature with children. Several recreational areas have shorter and longer local paths that overlap with the Skåneleden Trail. Here you can often find campsites with wind shelters to spend the night or enjoy a picnic. Visit the Scanian Landscape Foundation’s website, which manages 19 of Skåne’s recreational areas, for additional family-friendly ideas for hiking and activities in nature together with children and prams. Plan your recreation area hike here:
Söderåsen National Park
Söderåsen National Park has several shorter and longer hiking trails where it is possible to walk with a pram or stroller. Start your walk at Skäralid, where you can find toilets and Skäralid Restaurant (opening hours vary from season to season), as well as picnic tables and fire pits overlooking beautiful Skärdammen Pond. Take a walk around the pond or explore the rolling landscape from above at Kopparhatten Lookout. Plan your Söderåsen National Park hike here: http://www.nationalparksofsweden.se/choose-park---list/soderasen-national-park/seeing-and-doing/hiking/
KullaRulla Trail, Kullaberg
The Kulla Peninsula in northwest Skåne is renowned for its magnificent cliffs, picturesque fishing huts, and breathtaking views out over the Öresund Sound. In 2014, a 30-kilometre accessible trail was inaugurated - the KullaRulla Trail (i.e. the rolling trail) - which is a part of the Kullaleden Trail and Skåneleden Trail. This route consists mainly of hard-packed gravel or asphalt surfaces which makes it accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Choose a stretch of the KullaRulla Trail. Allow your child to walk as far as they can and then let them enjoy the view from their pram or stroller. There are several benches and tables along this route where you can enjoy your picnic snacks and possibilities to hook up with public transportation.
Plan your Kullarulla Trail hike here: http://kullaleden.se/en/
Hiking with older children
Here are two suggestions for hiking in Skåne where the paths circle back to your starting point. There is usually parking in connection with campsites and if you drive to your hiking destination, you can use the car to store equipment and supplies during your hike.
Brösarp 5-7 kilometres
Experience the countryside around the village of Brösarp in southeast Skåne by combining the Skåneleden Trail with the local Backaleden Trail, so that you end up back where you started. The two trails run parallel to each other on either side of Verkeån River between Haväng and Alunbruket - the site of an alum mine established in the 1600s. There are points along the river where the two trails intersect and where you can cross on small footbridges, which makes it easy to vary the length of the hike according to your needs.
For example, you can start at the parking at Alunbruket and follow Skåneleden Trail’s orange markers east to Hallamölla Falls, Skåne’s highest waterfall with a total drop of 23 metres, and the site of the Hallamölla Mill, first established in the 1400s. Visit the mill, explore the natural beauty surrounding this site, and enjoy your packed lunch at one of the picnic tables located at different heights along the falls. Next, follow Backaleden Trail’s yellow markers back to your starting point through forests and with the sound of the little river gurgling in the background. This route is around 5 kilometres long and offers a variety of nature and experiences along the way.
If you run out of coffee and need to replenish your energy reserves, you can continue walking until you come to Kaffestugan Alunbruket Café - Skåne’s oldest café - before heading home. During the summer season, this outing can be combined with a visit to nearby Christinehofs Ekopark and castle, where you also can choose to start your hike from.
Another suggestion is to park your car at the Hallamölla Mill Waterfall and then head east on the Skåneleden Trail, through the Hallamölla Mill Nature Reserve until you come to the Vantalängan Campsite. The trail takes you through forests and over several exciting bridges. At the Vantalängan Campsite there is a lot of room to romp and play and a little brook. This is a good place to rest and relax, and prepare a simple meal with the supplies you packed in your knapsack before you head back along the Backaleden Trail. This hike is around 7 kilometres long and offers a mix of terrain.
It includes part of SL4 Österlenleden Trail, parts of sections 6 and 7, and Backaleden Trail.
Wind shelters nearby
At the same elevation as Alunbruket, there is a wind shelter overlooking beautiful Verkasjön Lake. Here you will find parking, a toilet, fire pit, and docks on the lake - everything you need for a comfortable night of camping. If you choose to hike east, you will eventually arrive to Vantalängan Campsite, where the amenities include a toilet, firewood and fire pit.
How to get there:
There is no public transportation to get you to this part of the trail. It is possible to take a bus to the station in Brösarp and walk from there. There are, however, several places for parking in the area which makes for a number of possible hiking routes.
Plan your Brösarp area hike here:
Fulltofta Circular Trail, 10 kilometres
This circular trail is suitable for children from 6 years of age and up, who are used to nature walks that are a little longer. Make the Fulltofta Nature and Visitor Centre your starting point. Here you can fill your water bottles and take advantage of the public toilets before heading out. This is a varied trail, and your footsteps carry you through mixed forests and along streams. There are plenty of spots along the way well-suited for a pause, a picnic or to just play.
At Fulltofta Recreation Area, there is also an adventure playground where small, energetic legs will find many fun challenges, including exciting footbridges. There is a café at the Fulltofta Nature and Visitor Centre if you’re hungry or thirsty, and the exhibitions held there year-round always touch on some aspect of nature or related issues providing food for thought.
This circular route is part of SL2 Nord-sydleden Trail, section 9. You can either follow the marked paths within Fulltofta Recreation Area to return to your starting point, or follow section 9 of the Skåneleden Trail which leads to Hörby station, where you can hook up with public transportation to head home.
Wind shelter nearby
East of the Fulltofta Nature and Visitor Centre there is a wind shelter, a perfect place to stop for juice and a snack, or perhaps to spend the night.
This hike also includes the Bjeveröd Campsite. Nestled between woodland and pasture, Bjeveröd also offers a fish pond and the convenience of a toilet. A perfect place for a camping adventure.
How to get there:
On Saturdays and Sundays all year round, bus number 469 will take you right to the Fulltofta Nature and Visitor Centre. You can catch this bus in Höör or at Hörby station, which are both part of the public transportation system. On weekdays, take bus number 470 which stops on Route 13. If you are going by car to Fulltofta Nature and Visitor Centre, watch for the signs on Route 13 between Höör and Hörby. Pay a visit to Skånetrafiken’s homepage - the local transporting system to see updated timetables. https://www.skanetrafiken.se
Plan your Fulltofta hike here:
For more tips on hiking in the Fulltofta area, go to: http://en.skanskalandskap.se/recreation-areas/fulltofta