50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do): Climb a Tree

Dangerous Thing You Should Let Your Kids Do: Climb a Tree

Task: Find an excellent tree and climb it!



  • Good shoes or bare feet
  • Tree

Possible Hazards:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Fall
  • Bumps and bruises

Kids Climbing Trees

How It All Went Down:


There is something about a tree that just begs you to climb it.  For kids, climbing a tree is more than just fun (although, ultimately, that’s what makes it so appealing).  Scaling a tree teaches them vital lessons, such as dexterity, risk assessment, focus, and planning.  They have to decide how high they’re comfortable climbing, the best way to get there, which branches look  sturdiest, and figure out how to get back down.  A successful climb builds confidence, gives them a sense of freedom, and helps them appreciate nature.  An unsuccessful climb has the most valuable lesson a child can learn: how to pick themselves up and get right back at it again.

If you’re new to tree climbing, be sure to start small.  Climb up a few branches, then climb back down.  Climbing is fun, getting stuck – not so much.

Climbing trees does a body good.

We are always in search of good climbing trees.  You know what would be awesome?  A tree climbing directory.  How cool would it be to be able to search for trees that are just begging to be scaled?  Gever Tulley has a great suggestion.  Since you can’t always find a tree to climb when you really want one, keep an eye out for trees that are good climbing candidates.  Make note of where they are so that when the urge strikes you know right where to find them.  Then be sure to share them with the rest of us!

Did you climb trees as a kid?  Do you let your kids?  

You can read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).



  1. Linda Rudnick says:

    I loved to climb trees as I child. We stole dads planks of wood and built forts, made trees swings and launched ourselves into the maize field. We fell out of trees. Hid in trees or just spent the afternoon dreaming. Trees are wonderful. Great article.

  2. Is it okay to let a 10 year old climb 35-50 feet in a tall tree that is not “round” with branches, but rather scarce but sturdy? My husband and I have different opinions.
    I think it is too risky, especially for a boy who does not usually climb trees (for lack of good climbing trees in the area). Well rounded trees, up to maybe 15 meters could also lead to injury, but less risky – while higher is life threatening, isn’t it?
    Are there any expert opinions?

    • I meant 15 feet, not 15 meters.

    • I’m all for risky play, but 35-50 feet sounds like it’s on the high side. My 11-year-old has been up about 20 feet, which she found exhilarating and I found manageable. He’d definitely want to practice at lower heights first, getting comfortable getting up and, more importantly, down from there. He should always stay close to the trunk. You mention that the branches are scarce. If he has to reach up higher than his chest to get to the next branch, it’s not a good climbing tree. The likelihood of him being able to get down safely if the branches are too far apart is too great. I’d spend the energy searching for better climbing trees in the area instead. Hope that helps! And if anybody else has thoughts that might help Kathy, fire away!

      • Thank you for this great response – particularly the hint about how high up the next branch should be, for it to be a good climbing tree. These are the kind of guidelines I needed to know, so I can tell my son how to better judge when is the right time to stop and look for a better tree if he wants to climb higher!


  1. […] Climb a tree!  Besides being just plain fun, climbing trees teaches kids a myriad of different skills.  If you don’t have a good climbing tree near your home, go on a “find a good climbing tree” expedition! […]