The kids are out of school and you find yourself with some extra free time? Hiking can be a great summer pastime, even in the heat! Just be sure to remember a few things.
And then some more water. You can't go anywhere without water, especially where I live -- in Arizona. Typical hiking usually requires about a liter for every 2 hours, but summer hiking can increase those needs. Be sure you plan for that and know when to call it quits if you're feeling ill.
Make sure your shoes are adequate in terms of support and coverage. It is tempting to hike in sandals in the heat, but shoes and socks are much better for staying cool and protected. Clothing as well. Remaining as covered as possible for sun protection without over heating is a tricky balance! There are a lot of good fabrics out there that provide more coverage and breathability to keep you comfortable. And for the parts your clothes don't cover, there is sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen. You want to enjoy the desert, not blend in with its dry, arid topcoat.
There are places within a few hours of our home that have mountains, higher elevation, and cooler temperatures. Take the full day and go somewhere new. The best destination hikes in the summer time usually involve some sort of water feature or a shady canyon to cool off in. A waterfall, a stream with a swimming hole, or a lake to play in are always a crowd pleaser, even for the grumpiest of hikers. If you're in Arizona, Arizona Hikers Guide is a great resource to find just the right fit for your family.
Stay up late or get up early
With more flexible schedules and bedtimes, I love mixing it up with hiking at different times of day. Summer is a great time to get up early and see a great sunrise. Or wait for a full moon and take a moonlit hike across the desert. We like to take the blacklight and count (avoid) scorpions or go down by the pond to listen for bullfrogs. It's also fun to wait until there is no moon and find a hilltop that is perfect for stargazing. When kids are free to stay up late or sleep in or nap midday, there are so many unique opportunities for adventure and learning! We like to confuse our circadian rhythms as much as possible in the summer.
Sometimes summer break in the Arizona heat feels like a never-ending-stay-inside-all-day-screen-fest (just me?), but it doesn't have to be. With just a little extra creativity and planning, it can be one of the best hiking seasons there is.