Whether you're heading to your favorite campsite campsite for a family vacation or simply want to enjoy the great outdoors on a trail near your home, taking a hike is a fun summer activity the entire family can enjoy. The secret to having a great time when hiking with kids? A bit of advance planning.

1. Start with a short trail.

Little legs tire quickly, so it's best not to be overly ambitious. Choose a short trail to begin with, or one that eventually loops around to the beginning. Nobody wants to get stuck deep in the woods with kids begging to be carried.

2. Choose an interesting path.

A straight path through the trees may be easy to walk, but it's also boring. Look for paths that require a bit of physical exertion or have interesting features such as creeks or fallen trees along the way. Boredom is less likely when there's lots to see and do.

3. Pack snacks and water.

Hiking requires energy, so don't forget to pack a few granola bars and water bottles. Remind kids about the importance of staying hydrated when on the trail, especially in the summer heat.

4. Take a break.

If you've chosen a path with a creek, why not stop for a swim? Or maybe you will come across a clearing with some beautiful scenery? If nothing else, stop and sit while you refuel with a snack.

5. Be prepared for bugs.

Summer is prime time for ticks and mosquitoes, so don't forget to use plenty of bug spray and take all the proper precautions.

6. Insist on safety.

A hike is a great opportunity to teach kids about the awesome power of Mother Nature. Educate them on what poison ivy looks like, which poisonous snakes can be found in your area, and the importance of knowing First Aid.

7. Teach responsibility.

Encourage each child to carry their own gear. Small backpacks are the perfect size for a snack, drink, and a change of clothes if they'll be getting wet along the way.

8. Carry the baby.

Did you know that even babies can hike? If they're too young to walk, consider babywearing so that even the youngest member of your family can enjoy the journey.

9. Try hiking sticks.

Most kids get a kick out of using hiking sticks, and they actually can help children traverse rocky ground more easily. Be clear that they are not to be used as swords or daggers, though.

10. Slow down and enjoy the wonder of nature.

Keep kids engaged by encouraging them to identify the various plants and animals they see along the way. Look for wildflowers, birds' nests, unusual insects, or anything else you aren't likely to see every day.

11. Make it a tradition.

Routine hikes are a fun and easy way to reconnect as a family. You'll all benefit from the healthy dose of nature — and make plenty of memories that will last a lifetime.