|Table of Contents|
|• How to Prepare for a Hike|
|• What to Bring on a Hike|
|• When & Where to Hike During the Year|
|• Hiking Safety Tips|
The summer months are the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy a hike. Enjoying the magnificent scenery and wondrous views can be exciting, especially when you have ventured to the top of a mountain or along a trail to see them. But before you plan your next hiking adventure, be sure to plan accordingly to make sure you have everything you need. Keep reading to learn a few tips for hiking for beginners!
In order to enjoy your hiking journey, it is important that your body is ready for the long days filled with climbing over rocks, walking up a steep mountain, or jumping over puddles. While you may not think hiking is strenuous exercise—it is. Hiking requires a lot of strength and balance. Whether you’re taking a short, hour-long hike or planning on spending a few days among the trees and stars for a day-or-two adventure, your body needs to be prepared for the work it will endure. Here are 3 ways to prepare for your hiking journey:
Before you set off on your hiking adventure, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself by doing at least 15-minutes of walking or running a day leading up to your big hike. Walking and running prepares your muscles for the endurance that it will take for a moderate or long hike.
Hiking up steep mountains and hills, as well as, climbing over rocks takes a lot of strength! If your muscles aren’t used to it—specifically your calves, hamstrings, and quads—you could experience soreness or even injury if your muscles are strengthened beforehand.
Using light weights (such as 5 or 10-pound dumbbells) or resistance bands when engaging in strength training will help build the muscles in your legs. Some great strength exercises to do that will help build your leg muscles are squats, calf raises, and lunges.
Whether you’re taking a long or short hike, it’s essential to carry a backpack with you to make sure you have all the proper hydration, nutrition, and equipment with you. However, these backpacks can weigh at least 10 pounds! This added weight to your body can cause hikers to be off-balance requiring more strength than usual to walk or hike. Prior to your hike, engage in cardio with a backpack on. You can fill your backpack with books, rocks, or other heavy items to simulate the heaviness of the backpack you will be carrying during your hike.
Packing your hiking gear a few days before your adventure is a good way to ensure that you don’t forget anything and aren’t rushing to pack last-minute. What to bring on a hike can vary based on the duration of your journey, but there are 4 essential hiking gear items that all beginner hikers should bring with them:
Safety first! You never know what will happen when you’re out exploring the wilderness. Whether accidentally stepping in poison ivy or simply getting a blister from your shoes, it’s important to carry a first aid kit with you. Now, you don’t need to be excessive, but having ointments, bandaids, gauze, and isopropyl alcohol with you is a good idea to ensure you have a few ways to remedy yourself and others.
Snacks are key! As mentioned above, hiking is a workout. And like any workout, you will lose energy (and nutrients) causing you to feel hungry. Packing healthy granola bars filled with nuts and seeds, or making your own trail mix with dried fruits and nuts, or packing premade sandwiches are great options full of protein, carbs, and fats that will keep you satiated on your hike.
Hydration is key to a happy and safe hiking experience. During the summer months especially, it can be hot outside. Since hiking is a workout, you will most likely sweat. Replace any lost fluids and electrolytes with pre-packed water. Because water can get heavy, it might be a good idea to splurge on a travel water purifying tool. These tools purify water that you got from a stream or lake, ensuring that you don’t sip any pesticides, bugs, or other debris found in these bodies of water.
Scared you’ll lose your WiFi or data connection while exploring the wilderness? Immerse yourself in nature with genuine peace of mind from the hiker’s go-to AllTrails phone app. By downloading the trail maps using WiFi ahead of time your phone can act as a hiking guide and location tracker so you don’t have to deal with the real fear of getting lost on your journey into nature. That being said, it’s always better to be safe than sorry—bring a paper map just in case your battery and portable charger can’t keep up with your trip goals.
The best times of year to hike really depend on the different state and regional parks you’re venturing to. Depending on the area, there are different times of year that will allow you to see more wildlife or experience the beautiful foliage. Keep reading for hiking tips and to find out the best national and regional parks to visit during each season!
Now that you know what to pack with you on your hiking trip, where to adventure to, and when to go exploring, it’s time to make sure you stay safe (especially if you consider yourself a beginner hiker!). Read below to learn more about the top 5 hiking safety tips that beginner hikers should keep in mind when exploring new trails and landscapes.
As a beginner hiker, it can be easy to get excited about exploring a new place. However, it’s important that you make a scheduled hiking plan and don’t push past your limits. Being in the mountains and on trails can be tough—you don’t have your normal, everyday luxuries with you on hand. Make sure you know what your limits are and, if you’re feeling tired, to head back to your campsite.
Not only is hiking with a friend or family member a lot more enjoyable (as you can enjoy the magnificent scenery and make lasting memories with someone), but it’s a safer way to hike. Even though most national park trails are vetted by park rangers, there’s always a chance you might run into an unexpecting furry friend or get injured along the way. Having a friend or family member with you ensures that if something does happen, you have someone there to help.
While the weather is hard to 100% predict, it’s important to check the weather of the location where you’re hiking before your trip. Unexpected hazardous weather conditions—like thunderstorms and strong winds—can be especially dangerous for beginner hikers (let alone experienced ones!). Checking the weather beforehand is imperative to ensuring your safety and inclusion of weatherproof equipment in your backpack.
The vast wilderness of National Parks calls to those of us in search of adventure. Our open lands belong to a variety of magnificent animals: bears, moose, bison, elk, and more. These four-legged creatures tend to wander through any and all national park areas, even parking lots, so it’s important to stay mindful of your safety and avoid getting too close. In fact, most animal accidents occur because humans get caught up in the moment and get too close for picture-taking opportunities. You can seriously endanger yourself and the animals by not adhering to safety guidelines. Stay at least 25 yards from most wildlife and 100 yards from predators like bears and wolves. If there is a big crowd around any wildlife you are putting yourself and the animal at even greater risk. Crowds make the animals nervous and they are prone to charge looking for an escape route. In less crowded areas, prioritize your well-being, and theirs as you take in the sights and sounds of nature by hiking in groups, carrying bear spray, and making noise with bells, singing, or talking loudly. More on Animal Safety from the National Park Service here: 7 Ways to Safely Watch Wildlife
Now that you know how to prepare for a hike, what to bring on a hike, and where to go on a hike, you will graduate from a beginner hiker to an experienced hiker in no time!