Best Hiking Tips for Beginners
If you’re like me, captivated by the outdoors and calmed by the wilderness, then you might fall in love with hiking. I started hiking a little over five years ago. I worked outside in the evening for years on a haunted trail, but I wanted to enjoy the woods, the trails, everything in the light of day. My first visit was to Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania and I never looked back. After my years of scouting out any trails nearby and making memories in the wilderness of North America, I have gathered a few tips for those who’d love to try hiking but aren’t sure where to start.
Something that I stumbled upon a little too late in the game is a handy little app called AllTrails. This free app lets you search all the hiking trails nearby, gives you the level of difficulty, hiker reviews, maps, photos, and so much more. It’s a must have to anyone who is interested in taking to the trails.
I know a tip regarding buying something is the last thing you want to read, but for safety’s sake, invest in a really great pair of hiking shoes or high boots. Going in a simple pair of beat up sneakers or tennis shoes may seem like a good idea, but things could get treacherous if rocks and steps are wet or slick and if the rubber soles are worn down even a little. Once again, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so put aside some cash for a new pair; they’ll last you through treks of any difficulty and can also double as snow boots if you decide hiking isn’t for you! My favorite type of hiking boots are Merrell but places like L.L. Bean and R.E.I. have a great selection; just make sure to get the hiking style in whichever shoe you prefer.
Protect your ankles.
No matter the season, always wear either long pants or long socks. If you plan to hike where there is any long grass or shrubs, ticks won’t be far away and you won’t even feel it if they latch onto your skin. Always protect your legs while hiking!
Protect your skin.
Again, no matter the season, and no matter if it is sunny or overcast, use sunscreen. My favorite thing is my sunscreen, sunglasses, visor hat combination because I’m pasty. Carry a small bottle of 15+ in your pack if you have to, and always try to apply it 15 to 20 minutes before going outside. I always put it on in the car before I drive to my hiking location! No excuses, don’t go 1 on 1 with the sun, you won’t win.
Drink 32 oz the evening before your hike, and carry at least 32 oz the day of your hike. It will be the heaviest thing in your supplies to carry, but it’s the most important. Also, it’s good to research your trail situation to check for any water fill-up sites. Don’t have a water bottle quite as big, or want to fill up from a natural water source? Check out Hydro Flask–what I carry personally–and LifeStraw.
I mean, it’s called trail mix for a reason. It’s always good to carry fruits and salty snacks. You will get sweaty hiking; you can’t not sweat while hiking.
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself hiking in a place where you don’t have great cell service. No matter, always keep a full charge on your phone in case of emergencies. All phones should be able to place an emergency call regardless of the service situation. If you are able, try to keep the GPS on your phone turned on as well. If you have one of those fancy external phone chargers, bring it along! Check out this charger case that my partner uses: Mophie.
If it’s your first time out, begin at places such as state parks and national forests. These trails will have more people using them, so you won’t be quite so isolated. There are also emergency resources to keep all guests in the parks safe. Once you have graduated from popular trails, you can move to more difficult and secluded trails if you feel comfortable.
You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to go on a hike. It’s not about strength as it is about endurance. You’ll be walking at a slow to moderate pace for a long while over terrain that’ll test your muscles. Like I said, it’s a great but also sweaty workout!
If it’s your first time, try your best to go with a friend or partner. It’s safer and much more fun. The bottom line when hiking, anything can happen, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.