Start Cultivating the Trail Family Lifestyle Wherever You Are

Any family can begin to cultivate the trail family lifestyle! One thing that I love about rail trails in particular, is that they are so accessible. No matter what ages or abilities are part of your family landscape, you can be a trail family.

Right now, we have all children under ten years old. The girls insist that they are ‘tweens’ because the official ages for that are 8-12. When did that become a thing!? But, I digress…

Hitting the trail sometimes includes a stroller or push along bike for our little buddy. If we all ride, we have a pull-behind chariot for him to ride in. The girls just ditched the training wheels last year. In a few short years, we will have everyone riding independently. The point is, families change as time goes on. Your landscape today will look different before you know it.

Little boy in carriage
Snoozin’ and chillin’ on the D&H Rail Trail

Embrace and work with what that landscape is right now. Sometimes we as parents get an ideal in our head that we wish to see come to life. There is nothing wrong with that per se. But we always say, “family first; trail second.” Don’t turn it into a battle.

Two girls making funny faces, one on a bicycle
Our girls have embraced many aspects of the trail family lifestyle

You might be thinking, “OK, I won’t battle my teen over trail time, but what do I do?” That’s a great question. One thing that I have found on my parenting journey is that we don’t have to do this alone. And I definitely don’t have to have all the answers within myself. There are myriad resources out there for anything and everything that you can think of in parenting. My goal is to help you by being one of those resources that provides some fresh ideas and insights on your trail family journey.

One thing that I have found on my parenting journey is that we don’t have to do this alone.

While I don’t have teens yet, there are some basic principles that we can use as a springboard to come up with ideas to engage your teen in family trail time. 

Appreciate your teen for who they are 

Some kids just don’t like the outdoors. If you gave them the choice between a hike and dental work, they’d choose the dental work. Perhaps your teen is not used to lots of outdoor activities, but if you give it time they’ll warm up to the idea. Or, perhaps they won’t ever like it and the best you can hope for is tolerance for the sake of family time. Either way, don’t approach this problem as if your teen IS the problem who needs to be fixed. 

Appreciate your teen’s interests

We’ve shared previous posts how the trail family lifestyle can offer some way for everyone in the family to participate. Is your teen into cooking? Explore Pinterest together and make some trail snack recipes. Does your teen like running or biking? Those activities fit right in on the trail. You can even run the trail as conditioning for an upcoming sports season. There are tons of ways for you to blend trail life with what your teen already likes.

One thing that most teens are definitely into is technology, especially their phones. Instead of banning the use of technology while out on the trail, work with it. It’s great when trails and trailheads have wi-if. For more information on that read here. A great activity that you can do with your teen on the trail is a photo scavenger hunt. 

Download our free Photo Scavenger Hunt list and hit the trail. Find and photograph as many items as you can. Don’t forget to share them with us on Instagram #trailfamilylife. We look forward to seeing your adventures!

List for scavenger hunt

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