Mountains huts provide hearty meals, so you can pack lighter. Picnic areas are equipped with grills, wood and often fire tools. Family-friendly trails often provide groomed paths suitable for strollers and intermittent play areas as motivation for little walkers.
Even with all these conveniences, hiking with kids can be tricky. Here are a few tips to help smooth the way.
First, start early, start small, but go often. Hiking is a habit you are building. Provide incentives and bring surprise treats as rewards for good hiking. Lollipops are effective but reading aloud from a favorite book after every 10 minutes was also a surprise hit. Involve your kids in the planning, selecting your destination, consulting the trail maps, planning lunch. Go with friends - my slow walkers suddenly become trail runners when a friend is around. Lastly, always bring extra clothes. Someone from our crew is always toppling into a stream or mud bog.
Now for some inspiration. Here are a few of our favorite hikes, ones that we've done multiples times and where we take visitors.
If you only do one hike, this is the one. The area is immensely popular. But once you get on the trail, you'll escape the crowds but still enjoy amazing views of the Matterhorn, as well as the nearby glaciers and the surrounding mountains and valleys. It's mostly downhill, which makes it much easier for kids.
This short barefoot path around a little pond in the alps, surrounded by towering mountains peaks, is a perennial favorite of ours. To get there, you can hike the Globi Treasure Trail, searching for 11 hidden treasure chests with clues and a prize at the end if you solve the puzzle. There are many other attractions, including an alpine slide, large playground, and water play feature.
This is my new favorite place to take visitors. The views are spectacular but it's not crowded and is relatively inexpensive, almost half the price of the nearby famous peaks. The stroller-friendly panorama loop at the top is lovely, but if you fancy a longer challenge, hike back down the mountain, stopping at a little quiz trail for kids near the end.
The cable car gives you a fantastic aerial view of large waterfall on your way up to the beautiful and strangely flat alpine valley encircled with mountain peaks. Hike down a bit to see the waterfall up close and personal. Then go back up to stroll the groomed "accessibility" trail that loops around the valley, passing through the Mammut Boulder Parkour course, with marked free-climbing routes, some easy enough for kids.
Exhaustive details for these hikes and more are available on Tanya's blog, moms:tots:zürich