Hiking in the woods is a beautiful way to bond with nature. As long as you can walk at your own pace and carry only the necessities for the day, you can take in the world’s natural beauty. It’s also an activity that anyone can do with a bit of planning and preparation, making it accessible to everyone.
So, you’ve decided to take up hiking. Greetings, and thank you for joining us on this learning journey about hiking for the novice.
This hiking guide will answer all the questions that hiking beginners have, including what is hiking, why is it good for you, what to carry along, what hiking footwear to use, and how to prepare for hiking.
Let’s go for a stroll!
What Is a Hike?
A hike is a long walk, especially for pleasure or exercise, says Merriam-Webster. Hiking is merely a fancy term for walking for an extended period in the open air.
Hiking is a type of outdoor exercise that requires long walks. You can go on a single-day, multi-day, or even a country-wide hike! It’s entirely up to you.
The best hiking paths are frequently found outside major towns, in rural areas, along coastlines, or through mountain ranges. Hiking routes abound in many national parks, which is one of the primary reasons people go there in the first place.
Hiking is an excellent kind of exercise in and of itself. It’s healthy for your heart, muscles, bones, blood sugar, and cholesterol; it’s also beneficial. It improves sleep quality and reduces the risk of many diseases. Physical activity releases endorphins, so hiking has the added benefit of making you feel more optimistic. As a stress reliever, it allows you to escape your everyday routine and combat traveler’s fatigue. It’s essentially a type of contemplation.
It’s also a terrific way to unleash your creative juices because it removes all of the distractions of daily life and allows your subconscious mind to run wild.
Hiking has the potential to transform your connection with your body in profound and lasting ways. For example, when your body has physically carried you up and down mountains, it’s difficult to be angry with it for not looking the way you want it to.
How to Start Hiking for Beginners?
Here are a few hiking tips if you are a beginner hiker.
Making A Decision On A Hiking Route
If you’re unsure where to begin, there isn’t a law to follow. Instead, start with a small hike in your region and gradually increase the distance. If you’re just getting started, avoid the long ones that involve too much climbing, like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. This is the biggest mistake beginners make, and you must be careful and pick a hike under 5 miles.
Even if you reside in a large metropolis, you’re bound to find a nearby hiking trail. Even amid the commotion of the world’s largest cities, there are mountains to be seen.
Beginner hikers can complete a half-day, non-technical hike easily.
Identifying and Locating Hiking Routes
What’s the best way to select the right hiking trail for you? Try searching for “Day hikes nearby” or “Short hikes in x” to get some ideas for where to go. Type “best hikes in [country]” into a search engine if you’re on the road.
Or, you can consult a staff member at your local outdoor store, who are usually all huge outdoor fans and are well-versed in your area’s specifics. You can purchase a local trail map from them.
Things to Know
Determine when and if you need to purchase a hiking permit before embarking on a new journey. For those who want to go hiking in another country, the process is more difficult.
First and foremost, arrange a meeting time. Forecasts on the mountains can be unreliable; we’d recommend checking them out, but that’s not always possible. It can, however, provide you with a general notion of what to expect.
Make sure you are aware of any permits that may be required. Some national parks charge per-day admission to avoid overcrowding. Entrance fees and hiking permits may be necessary for some parks. To buy this on the spot, you’ll need cash. You may need to reserve a place ahead of time.
The Start and the End Points of Your Hike
Planning your route would be incomplete without considering how you’ll get to the final destination and how you’ll return.
Where are you going to start from? It’s a good thing if it all begins on your doorstep. What matters is finding a way there and back without getting lost!
You could, however, be on the road. Who knows? You might be without transportation. Therefore, before you go, check out the public transportation choices. There is likely a bus link between popular day hiking spots and the town. On the whole, though, taking public transportation and going on hikes don’t go well together.
There are always cabs available if there is no bus service. It can be pricey, but you can split the expense with a friend or a group.
Hitchhiking is the best method for getting to and from remote hiking locations. While it’s not without risk, most folks are friendly and happy to help a lost hiker. Be cautious, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. So, please take your time and plan a safe route home!
What to Carry When Hiking as a Beginner?
Following are the hiking essentials you should always have on you:
The most critical thing in your pack is a hydration bladder or full water bottles to prevent dehydration and keep you moving on the path. Pack one liter of water for every hour of hiking you intend to participate in. Beginners should carry at least two liters of water on a four-mile trip on a moderate trail (consider additional time for steeps). Bring more water and a hat or cap if the weather is scorching.
Water is, indeed, a heavy substance. Water purification drops or a water filter may be necessary for long-distance walks, so plan accordingly. Instead of lugging about a heavy pack the entire day, you may just top it off as needed.
You can use any bottle with a screw cap, an old plastic water bottle, or a glass soda bottle.
If you’re not familiar with a place, getting lost hiking is easier than you think. Prepare for your first hike by familiarizing yourself with the path you’ll be taking. Inexperienced hikers should go on a popular trail where they are more likely to meet other individuals. Map programs like Gaia GPS can help you discover new routes.
Before starting your hike, ensure you charge your phone and have downloaded the trail maps to see them even if you lose cell service. Ensure you know how to use a compass and a paper map before taking a long trip or off-trail trek.
The most excellent part about trekking, aside from the scenery, is the food. To maintain a steady energy supply, hikers should consume about 200 calories every hour of activity. Nutrient-dense, non-perishable food is the greatest choice for hikers because it won’t crush or smash while in your hiking daypack.
If you’re going on a day trek, include snacks like almonds, dried fruit, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, or trail mix. It’s okay to eat everything you want on your first hike, even if the exercise makes you less hungry because nutrition isn’t as important at this point.
Apply sunscreen liberally before setting out on the path, and bring extra for touch-ups. Pack a hat, sunglasses, or apparel that blocks UV rays. In wooded locations and throughout the summer, it’s a good idea to use a bug repellent. You can also carry a sun hat.
When hiking, you should avoid cotton because it soaks up water and doesn’t dry quickly, but this does not necessitate the purchase of expensive hiking gear. For your first hike, dress comfortably and with wicking material in mind. You only need athletic t-shirts and jogging shorts for hiking clothing in summer. Get some good hiking shoes to go with the clothes, and if you can get trail running shoes, that would be more beneficial for a great hiking experience.
To stay warm and dry in the winter, layer with non-cotton base layers, fleece or wool mid-layers, and waterproof tops. Never leave home without a spare set of clothes, even if you think you won’t need them.
Even though a headlamp may seem excessive for a morning hike, having one on hand just in case is always a good idea. So are you without a flashlight? A tiny flashlight will also do quite nicely.
A basic first aid kit is essential if you or your hiking companions get hurt. Ensure you have bandages, an elastic bandage, and ibuprofen on you in case of an injury. Carry alcohol prep pads for cleaning wounds and hand sanitizer.
Knife or Multipurpose Tool
A multitool or pocketknife can be helpful for everything from simple gear repair work to slicing pepperoni on your first day hike.
A full-blown camping shelter isn’t necessary for day hikes, although protecting yourself from the elements can provide a sense of security. Bring an emergency bivy or even a tiny tarp that you can get at a store for longer hikes.
Winter and nighttime excursions necessitate the use of necessity. For example, you can use a camp stove, a lighter, or even a match to purify water and keep warm in an emergency.
You can use your phone as a camera, a map, and a phone to call for aid if you need it. The only matters you need to fret about are a sturdy case and a fully charged device.
Some hikers like to use poles for balance and alleviate pressure on the knees while on the trail. As an option, look into folding poles that are easy to store when not in use.
Taking a toilet break before embarking on a hiking trip is always recommended, but sometimes nature calls.
Always take your trash home with you. Do your part to keep the route clean by picking up rubbish that other hikers leave behind.
How to Train for Hiking Pikes Peak for Beginners?
There is no specific exercise regimen required to prepare for a hike; a hike, after all, is an excellent kind of exercise!
If you’ve been on the road for a while and haven’t kept up with your vacation fitness routine, here are some recommendations to help you get back into the swing of things. Even if you’ve done some hiking before, it may be a new form of exercise for your body.
If you plan a multi-day hike or another strenuous excursion, it is an absolute must.
Strengthening your legs, doing cardio, and working on your balance are all things you should work on. Our experts recommend walking an extra mile or two to build up your stamina to your target distance. Burpees and squats are two of the best exercises to incorporate into your workout routine to augment your fitness level.
Things to Do on a Hike for Beginners
Hiking Trail Etiquette
Following proper hiking etiquette is very crucial. Understand your right of way. Follow the right-of-way yields indicated on the trail’s signage. The general guidelines for yielding on the trail may vary from park to park, but these are the most common signs.
- The norm is that the right of way is for uphill hikers. Please give the people climbing some room if you’re making your way down the trail.
- Mountain bikers must give way to hikers, horseback riders, and other pack animals. Give the other driver the right of way by coming to a complete stop and stepping to the side. If you must deviate from the path, be aware of nearby plants or animals. Cyclists need to ride within their limits at all times. Before you arrive at a park, check its rules to see if biking is permitted.
- Horses and other pack animals take precedence over hikers. Step off the uphill side of a trail slowly and calmly. Let others know your presence and intentions if you’re approaching from the back. Avoid startling pack animals by not making sudden movements or making loud noises.
- Make a name for yourself. Fellow hikers and other trail users should greet each other with a friendly “hello” or a simple head nod when they come across them. As a result, the trail becomes a more pleasant place to be. Make a friendly, calm announcement to the trail user that you’d like to pass in front of you.
- Keep on marked trails. When hiking, avoid deviating from established trails unless essential. Going off-trail can harm or kill a variety of plant and animal species and the surrounding ecosystem. Make sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles. Leave rocks, plants, and other artifacts where you find them so that future generations can enjoy them as well as you.
- Wildlife should not be disturbed. The two of you both need your own space. You should avoid getting too close to any animals you encounter while out and about. Before visiting a park, check the park’s regulations to see if you need to keep a certain distance from wildlife. Don’t stray from the path to get a better look at an animal because it can harm the animal’s habitat and put you in danger.
- Keep an eye on the trail’s conditions. If the trail is too muddy and wet, you should try another day again. Using a muddy trail puts you, and those around you in danger degrades the trail’s condition, and harms the ecosystem.
- Allow nature to speak for itself when you’re out on a hike in the great outdoors. Keep your electronic devices at a safe distance from other people and the environment. The wildlife, as well as other visitors, will appreciate the quiet. Natural sounds are critical to the survival of many wildlife species, and disrupting these sounds can harm their ability to communicate.
- While out on a hike in one of our national parks, be mindful of your surroundings. It’ll keep you and your companions safe as wildlife and their natural habitats.
- Listen To An Audiobook Or a Podcast: Audiobooks have recently grown in popularity, perhaps due to their convenience. They allow you to listen to a book while doing other activities, allowing you to read a book whenever and wherever you want.
- Listening to audiobooks while hiking is an excellent idea because the tranquil surroundings will enable you to focus on the story aloud and frees up space in your backpack that you would otherwise use to carry a physical book.
- While hiking, you can also enjoy listening to podcasts, especially those that feature guests and allow you to participate in their conversations. There’s a podcast for everyone, no matter what their interests are.
- Play Music: While hiking, you can set the pace by playing music. It is a great way to keep yourself motivated, especially when encountering rugged terrain. You can play music with a fast, powerful beat to help you get through these sections and keep your mind focused on what you’re doing.
- Search for Food: Hiking can lead to discovering food sources such as berries, elderflowers, and other seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Relax in the Water: You will often come across a river or a lake when hiking. It’s a great way to cool down and relax your muscles after all than walking, so why not bring your swimsuits along for your next hiking trip?
- Swim hiking, a sport that combines hiking with swimming, allows hikers to circumnavigate rivers and lakes that would otherwise be impassable. It opens up new routes and terrain for exploration.
- Take Pictures and Videos: Taking photos or videos of the breathtaking panoramas, you’ll see while hiking is a great way to remember your experience. Anyone can take a picture and capture the moments they feel are significant, regardless of whether or not they are a professional photographer. Why not put them on display, post them on the internet, or create a scrapbook as a way to remember your hiking adventures?
- Experiment With Drawing And Painting: As an alternative to taking pictures, consider taking some paper or paints with you on your hiking trip and creating art whenever you take a break or see an extraordinary place.
- Try out Geocaching: If you are a hiking enthusiast, you’ve likely heard of Geocaching or encountered one while exploring. But have you ever tried Geocaching while hiking?
- Anyone unfamiliar with this pastime should simply download the Geocaching app and begin searching for the hidden containers known as ‘geocaches.’ Check to see if there is a geocache near you; millions of them spread across 190 countries.
- Consider Practicing Outdoor Yoga and Meditation: As a result of the stunning scenery and escape from city life that hiking provides, Researchers regard hiking as a meditative activity that promotes mental and physical well-being. Hiking has a meditative atmosphere similar to that of yoga or meditation.
What to Do Before a Hike?
Find Hiking Buddies
In general, hiking with a group is preferable to hiking alone. At the very least, it’s more enjoyable. When it comes to hiking, it’s best to go with local hiking groups because it’s safer. It’s less likely to encounter a dangerous animal because wildlife tends to avoid groups.
Four is the ideal number of hiking buddies in a group. It’s better if one person can stay with the injured while the other two get help.
However, “the more, the merrier” isn’t the rule for hiking. It is challenging to keep a large group of people in a hiking group together on the trail, can be disruptive to other hikers, and has a significant impact on the environment.
Explore the Different Trails
Hike a trail after doing some research. It’s more than just swiping through Instagram to find a photo-worthy location. Check out trail websites, blogs, and national park websites for information on trails and parks. Pick up a travel guidebook now.
Ascertain That You Have Enough Time
Rushing or trying to hike at night can lead to accidents, so you need to complete your hike in the time allotted.
Find out how long people typically spend hiking and factor in a safety margin of time. Before you set out, look at just how long it would take to get there. Consider the sunset time as well. Make sure you don’t stay out too late.
Become Acquainted with Local Laws
Protecting nature and ensuring a positive experience for all users are often the goals of laws and regulations. Find out if you need a reservation, permit, or park pass on the websites of the local parks you intend to visit. Some areas may not permit dogs and campfires.
Observe the State of the Trail
Getting halfway up a mountain and turning back because of snow is the worst. It’s easier to have a good time if you’ve done your homework on the trail conditions beforehand. It is all about planning and preparing, and checking the trail conditions is essential.
Access Avalanche and Weather Predictions
Remember that the weather in the city and the mountains are two completely different things.
Preparation is key before heading out on a hike. A friend or relative should know where you are going and when you are expected to return. Someone will know how to search for you if you ever become lost or injured.
Beginner Hiking Trails Near Me
If the mountains call your name or you’ve recently arrived in a beautiful new location, you’re bound to wonder: Are there hiking trails nearby?
Even in the height of summer, a short hike to the summit of this still-erupting volcano is doable. Consider Lassen Summit, the Cascades’ southernmost volcanic mountain, if you’re seeking a really American peak to climb.
North Vista Trail
The views of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison from the visitor center are some of the best. Moreover, the Painted Wall, a 2,250-foot cliff formed by the beautiful Gunnison River, can be seen after a 1.5-mile hike from the trailhead.
Glacier Point Trail
Even if you’re a novice hiker, you can still enjoy some of Yosemite’s other trails, including the Half Dome trail. Located in Glacier National Park, the one-mile-long and primarily flat is one of the most breathtaking in the country.
Although the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land has many more challenging trails suitable for experienced hikers only, this one is by far the most accessible and easiest for novice hikers. If you hike reasonably, the 2.8-mile trail should only take you two hours. We are confident that you will be rewarded at every turn.
Frozen Niagara Caves
Cave tours are often too difficult for children because of the narrow spaces and the need to climb stairwells. You can only complete the Frozen Niagara Tour in Kentucky in less than an hour.
At the base of Cathedral Rock, this not-too-difficult hike is one of the most famous landmarks in America. While you’re there, don’t miss out on the stunning open landscapes and mysterious vortexes this region is known for.
Big Sur’s 5-mile loop boasts stunning ocean views, redwood groves, grassy valleys, and mountaintop scenery. You need to do a bit of climbing, but nothing too strenuous.
Wildcat Den Trail
This park has a complex web of hiking trails, and the best time to visit is in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. Some of the things you’ll see on this one-to-two-hour hike include 75-foot high cliffs, wildflowers, and beautiful bluffs.
From this hiking trail, you can look at the D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay state parks. Rubicon trail is on Tahoe’s southwest shore. Additionally, the eight-mile trail is well-marked, easy to navigate, and ideal for a quick stroll down to one of the numerous beaches that you can find along the way.
Hoh River Trail
The Hoh River Trail is an excellent option for novice hikers because it has a low elevation gain and can easily be extended based on fitness. Glacier Meadows, a ten-mile hike from Glacier Meadows, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and subalpine and montane meadows.
Canyon Overlook Trail
This easy hike offers spectacular views of Zion Canyon and is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. You may see some of Zion’s most recognizable features from the Pine Creek Canyon trail. Overlooking the Mt. Carmel tunnel, it’s largely made of sandstone and soil.
If you’re looking for one of the most scenic trails in the area, look no further than this one. There is minimal climbing and many safe places to stop and take in the views of Yellowstone National Park on this trail. It has a 4,000-foot elevation.
This high-altitude trail is mainly flat, in contrast to the awe-inspiring views of the surrounding mountains, glacial meadows, and glistening blue lake below. There’s a decent possibility you’ll spot some bighorn sheep along the fabled Continental Divide.
Base Loop Trail
The first national monument in the United States was established here in 1906. In addition to the 867-foot-tall granite volcano, the 1.3-mile Devils Tower loop provides a fascinating look at the red rock that envelops the area underneath it.
Billy Goat Trail
The main draw of this popular Maryland hike is the Potomac River and the surrounding forested terrain. You’ll cover 7.8 miles if you complete all three sections divided into three parts.
Final Words – Hiking for Beginners
Now that you know how to get started put on your hiking boots and head out onto the trail. Just leave your worries behind.
You’ll be surrounded by dense, wild nature soon after leaving the city. The peaceful symphony of birds singing, streams flowing, and a breeze whistling through the trees is all you hear.
Feel the sun’s warmth on your face, breathe in the clean air, and take in the scents of the natural world around you. An exciting journey lies ahead of you.