A Beginner's Review Guide to Adding Hiking into Your Life
Hiking is a great activity that almost everyone can enjoy. It requires less commitment than a camping trip but is still filled with activity and beautiful scenery. Simply put, hiking is a great way to experience the great outdoors! Hiking does not require much gear, but there are some necessary items that hikers should purchase. Also, although leisure hiking does not require any specific skills, it is essential to know how to plan your hike properly.
- Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School: Health benefits of hiking: raise your heart rate and your mood
- University of San Francisco: Take a hike: research shows walks in nature make you happier
When getting ready to start hiking, it is important to make sure that you have some essentials. First, you should know how to properly hydrate, something that is key to safe and successful hiking. Drinking water and limiting caffeine before you go as well as continuing to drink water on the trail and after your hike is important to avoid dehydration during your hike and help muscles to recover after. It can also be helpful to hike with other people when you are first beginning to hike. It can be fun as a beginner as well as when you become more experienced!
- North Country Trail Association: 7 tips to stay hydrated while hiking
- Blue Ridge Hiking Club: Membership
Selecting the Right Trails and Routes
Knowing how to select the right trails and hiking routes is an important part of being successful at hiking. Choosing a trail can be an exciting process, but it is also important to choose one for your skill level, the time you have, and your level of physical fitness. It is usually best to choose easy hikes when you are first starting out. Having an accurate map of your route can make your experience on the trail more enjoyable.
- Washington Trails Association: Hiking 101 part 1: choosing the right hike
- American Hiking Society: Hiking resources
Checking Trail Conditions and Weather
Once you have established that you are physically able to hike and understand the basic ways to stay healthy on the right trails, you should also make sure to check weather and trail conditions. Hiking in a little rain can be a nice experience, but hiking in a deluge, when it is icy, or even when it is too hot can be dangerous. Trail conditions should be checked before heading out because some trails may have snakes, rock falls, mudslides, or even just unfavorable conditions.
Appropriate Attire, Footwear, and Gear
When you decide to start hiking, it can be tempting to buy all new and fancy gear for your hikes. While up to the individual. this is usually not necessary and can be costly. There are a few items you should make sure to have before you go hiking. First, no matter the temperature, it is important to layer. Even in summer, you should have a light jacket in case the temperature changes. Appropriate footwear is also important. Although you do not have to buy the most expensive hiking boots, sturdy shoes with proper support and a good tread are important. You should also have safety and hydration gear.
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Food, water, and gear
- Appalachian Mountain Club: Essential backpacking gear guide
Planning Your Hike
Besides the actual hiking, planning your hike is one of the most exciting parts of the adventure. Choosing a route, packing your gear, and gathering friends or getting your dog are also fun parts of the experience. Although spontaneous hiking can be fun, it is important to make a few basic plans before you start. Study maps, check the weather, and make sure you have all the supplies you need, then check on the trail conditions. You should also always, no matter how short the trail or how experienced you are, tell someone where you are going and when you anticipate returning home.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: 5 food tips for camping and hiking
- Florida Trail Association: Hiker safety
Leave No Trace
Once you are prepared and ready to hike, you should also learn one of the most important etiquette rules of hiking: leave no trace. While it is important to know which side of the trail to hike on, how to practice trail etiquette when hiking with kids or animals, and so on, leaving no trace is a fundamental rule of hiking. Leave no trace means that you should leave the trail, the woods, any campsites, and nature the way you found it. Know how to dispose of your trash, how to stay on the trail, and how to respect wildlife before you set foot on a hiking trail.
- Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: The leave no trace seven principles
- Boy Scouts of America: Leave no trace
- The Wilderness Society: Leave no trace
Hiking with Kids and Pets
Hiking is fun as a solitary activity, but it can also be a great way to get your kids and pets out into nature! When hiking with children, it is important to make sure that you have enough water, food, and supplies for them, and that they are properly dressed in layers. With small children, you should also make sure that you are physically able to carry them if the hike becomes too much for them to manage. You should also impress upon children the vital importance of leaving no trace and how to respect trails, nature, and wildlife. With pets, you should also have food and water and, although it can be tempting, you should think carefully about letting your pets off a leash. Also, remember to pick up after your pets and keep them from disturbing any wildlife!