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Snacks to Pack for Family Hikes

trail mix

Jane Hamming is an Ottawa Public Health registered dietitian and our guest-blogger this month.

If you are going for a hike with your family, snacks are a must!  It is a great way to help kids stay fueled, excited about the hike and interested in going on. 

Food and water should be one of the most important parts of your preparation for the hike.  If you are going out for just a few hours, pack a couple of snacks and water.  If you are going for longer than a couple of hours, pack snacks, a lunch and more water.  

Then, when you find that perfect spot to stop, catch your breath, take in the view and feed your tummy.  

For a day hike, you want food that is nutritious, tasty, requires minimal preparation, can be carried cold, isn’t bulky and as lightweight as possible. Getting all of this from a variety of flavors, textures and nutritional sources is the goal.  Snacks should:

  • Be compact, lightweight.
  • Be stored in small light-weight containers and do not leave any trace when you finish having your snack. 
  •  Easy to prepare
  • Need no refrigeration
  • Does not crumble to pieces or melt when tossed into a backpack

Here are some ideas to get you started:


  •  Trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruit).  A lightweight and nutritious snack that is easy to pack, with little cleanup.  Include peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and pumpkin seeds to name a few.  
  • Fresh fruit such as apples or oranges.  They are handy to carry and easy to eat.  Choose fruits that are tough enough so they don’t bruise in your backpack.  Unless you have a protector for bananas, leave these at home.  Before you leave home, slice up apples and sprinkle with some cinnamon and lemon.  Lemon helps keep the fruit looking fresh.
  • Frozen grapes.  The night before your hike, freeze a bag of grapes. By morning, they will be rock hard and icy. By snack time, they will be cold, crisp, and so sweet.  Really nice on a hot day.
  • Granola/cereal bar.  They vary in nutrition value and you should watch for sugar content.
  • Roasted chickpeas.  These pack a lot of protein and are tasty.  Roast the chickpeas in the oven seasoned with a little olive oil, pepper or whatever herbs and spices you like.   One of my favourites is a combination of cumin, smoked paprika and garlic powder.

For longer hikes:

  • Tuna with crackers, pita or tortilla. 
  • Whole grain tortillas.  Great for wraps – with peanut butter, hummus, or cheese.
  • Hard boiled eggs, in the shell. When ready, just peel the shell off and enjoy!
  • Cut up veggies with dip.  Green bell peppers are of the most hydrating peppers. Slice up a few and pack in a plastic container with hummus.  

Don’t forget the beverages:

  • Water (when it’s hot outdoors, freeze ½ water bottle overnight and top up in the morning)
  • Thermos with hot chocolate on those cooler days

Ottawa offers so many options for hiking with your family, whether it is in the Green Belt, Gatineau Park or an urban hike, they are all beautiful.  I really enjoy the Skyline Trail in Gatineau Park – it’s 6km and has a terrific view over downtown Ottawa at the mid-point and there’s a bench that you can enjoy your lunch or snacks. 


By Jane Hammingh, RD

Public Health Dietitian

Ottawa Public Health


Healthy Snacking / Collations santé by sherry_library