Going on a hike without a plan will make your trip less enjoyable.
You might wear the wrong thing to your chosen destination, or you might run low on energy when you go out on a strenuous hike.
Our goal today is to get you thinking of all the right variables that will make your hike more enjoyable, worthwhile, and fulfilling.
My husband and I enjoy hiking and going to different trails while enjoying nature. I truly enjoy taking my time to walk while I hike, however, my husband enjoys getting a good jog depending on the trail. Now that the summer's gone and fall is here, the lovely weather is coming, the perfect weather for hiking! (in my opinion).
Here are several tips that every beginner should know before going on a hike.
Understand your destination
Choose your destination to understand the area, check the weather the park rules and regulations. Some parks do require a pass to go in, make sure to check online. Learn about the main spots in the park such as emergency zones.
Be safe and start small, start with a 2-5 mile long hike. Know the type of trail your body is built for, go at your pace. Don't speed through it take short breaks every hour or any time your body needs it.
Tell someone about your plan. It is important to tell someone the location you will be going to in case of an emergency. Tell the approximate time that you should be getting back.
It's always better if you hike with others, make sure everyone knows that plan. Make sure to have an emergency plan too.
Be sure to check out the weather so you know what to wear. (Pro tip: It's not cotton)
Hiking waterproof shoes, Hiking waterproof boots: (High cut hiking boots- above the ankle.Mid cut hiking boots - near the ankle and Low cut hiking boots - below the ankle), do not wear new shoes to the hike as it can cause you to get blisters and hurt your feet.
Wear hiking pants or even workout leggings. You can also wear shorts if that something you prefer. If you happen to freak out when something touches your legs, just like me and my husband, then long pants are the best option for you.
With shirts, you have the option to bring the long sleeve hiking shirts which are lightweight and just perfect and protects you from any cuts or sunlight.
Find a material that is comfortable to you and allows you to walk for longer distances without causing you discomfort.
There are different types of jackets you can get, you can find rain jackets, fleece jackets for chilly weather, or a down jacket for cold weather.
You might need gloves depending on the weather, to make sure you keep your hand nice and warm.
For hats, you can wear beanies, bandanas or hats whatever feels comfortable to you. Just keep in mind, what will keep you cool and comfortable in hot temperatures, or warm in cold weather.
Remember that this is an outdoor workout, just wear something comfortable to you while working out.
Know your essentials:
Bring a backpack it helps you carry everything leaving you with hands-free.
Practice your tent skills at home before going out for the hike, trying to learn to put it together at the time of its no fun at all.
Pack an extra day’s supplies of food, no-cook items are the best, with nutrients that will keep your energy up (granola bars, nuts, trail mix, energy bars, beef jerky, dried fruit, dried meats, protein bars.
Water, do not forget water!
Here are a few more items that you will need for safety, take a good look at them as they are essential to bring whether is a short hike or a longer hike.
Hiking poles can help you with inclines on the trail, allowing you to get support from them instead of your knees, you can bring knee braces too for protection and avoid injuries.and
Sun protection & bug spray. It's important to stay protected from the sunlight if you do not like the feeling of sunscreen use long sleeve shirts and hiking pants instead.
Bring a small travel size first aid kit, always be ready for any kind of injury.
Bringing a tracker, map or compass is a must, in some cases bringing a map is the best option as it pinpoints landmarks that are near you. Bringing a GPS tracker is good too, remember to bring an extra battery pack if you are going on a longer hike. Lastly, a compass is another great option to use. Will not give you specifics on the area, instead, it will only give you directions to the final destination.
Be ready to be handy! Some useful things to bring are a multi-use knife and duct tape.
For fire, you can bring matches, lighter, firestarters. Make sure to start a fire at the appropriate location and keep the fire small.
A whistle, very helpful in case you get lost or someone from your group gets lost.
Remember the essential rules for hikers.
“Leave no Trace”
- This is to be clean, to be respectful to nature and wildlife.
- Always check online the rules or regulations for the area you will be visiting.
- Plan and prepare.
- Stay on marked trails.
- Dispose of everything properly, not leaving trash behind.
- Start fires under the use established fire rings, fire pans and keep fires small.
- Put out campfires completely.
- Control pets at all times.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous to other users on the trail, always stay on the right side of the path.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals.
Finally, make sure to check your plan one more time. Check on all the items you are taking before packing and leaving for the hike. Be sure everything works fine and will keep you safe and protected from weather changes and any other possible problems.
Types of trails:
Foot trails are dirt paths that lead you to either a mountain top or just a nice area in the middle of the countryside or forest. Different examples are concrete paths that are around the city parks.
Bikeway paths are more extended than the normal trails with a section assigned to bicycle users.
Boardwalk trails are mainly found in national parks, are used to keep us safe while exploring and enjoy the beauty of nature in dangerous areas.
Nature trails relate to trails in a forest or countryside. Some areas are called nature preserve.
Multi-Use Trails are to be used for both pedestrians and bicycle users but not every park has them.
Hiking Without Trials
Hiking without a trail is harder than any other hike. A lot of people don't feel comfortable with this experience, while others are all for it. In this hike, you need to be comfortable with reading maps. Wilderness is another thing you need to keep in mind. Hiking off trails is not allowed in all national parks, you might need to go online and find out what parks allow off-trail hiking.
Here are some types of hikes that you can plan for.
Peak bagging involves hiking to reach the top or peak of a mountain or hill. This hike can be long and physically challenging.
Scrambling involves walking or hiking up steep terrains using both hands and feet. This hike can be more specialized and dangerous, it's more interesting as it adds more challenge to your path.
Snowshoeing is a type of hike allows hikers to continue throughout the winter months. Hiking trails in the winter can offer a different perspective and provide a different type of workout.
Orienteering is a competitive form of hiking in which requires the hikers to find their way to specific waypoints with the use of a map and compass only.
Geocaching means using a (GPS) to find containers with geocaches. Once found, the hiker would make a note in a logbook or leave an item for the next person to find this can provide alternate routes and off-trail hikes.
Trail running can offer more varied terrain than typical running and can be a great way for hikers to build endurance.
Now, you will see a list that explains hiking difficulties.
Level 1: These types of hikes do not have inclines and are the most comfortable levels anybody can do.
Level 2: These hikes are easy to do and have simple inclines. Most first-timers can do without a problem.
Level 3: On this level, some basic hiking experience is required. Most people can do them without a problem.
Level 4: Now, this level has good inclines, longer distances, and the difficulty increases. Not fit for beginners that do not have much experience in hiking.
Level 5: In this level, inclines start to get more intense, and distances get longer. Hiking gear is suggested to bring. This level is not suited for beginners.
Level 6: These have simple switchbacks and distance increase. A lot of endurance and stamina is required. Hiking gear and is required. Not for beginners or kids.
Level 7: On this level, you can expect longer slopes and distances can increase, taking many hours to complete. This not suited for beginners. It is recommended to bring hiking equipment and gear for safety.
Level 8: Now for this level, the hikes tend to be longer in which it may last a little more than 6 hours. Hikers with experience only and hiking equipment and gear recommended.
Level 9: Long-distance hikes which may last all day. Experienced hikers only, hiking equipment and essentials needed for safety.
Level 10: Finally, inclines throughout the paths making the trail more difficult and may last all-day. Hiking equipment is a must is required for protection. This level is for expert hikers, not suggested for beginners.
.... and, breathe!
You've made it to this point, and by now you are a pro at knowing the essentials of hiking along with a few extra tidbits that will help you better plan for any future hikes.