Deciding to embark on a new adventure via hiking is a very exciting decision to make – but choosing a location and packing a bag can seem overwhelming to a novice hiker. With the correct preparations made, you can spend more time enjoying your first hike rather than worrying about whether or not you have everything you need to complete it comfortably. Here are some tips for planning your first hike!
Assess Your Fitness Level
As you look into potential trails for your first hike, you need to be honest with yourself about your fitness level. Hiking is much more demanding than a walk down the street, so beginners should always err on the side of safety when deciding a path. Check your potential trails for steep climbs, boulders, switchbacks, and stairs that may pose a challenge that will be more unpleasant than pleasant. It is better to start off slowly and work your way up to more difficult trails than to get discouraged trying to complete something that is just too hard. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere.
Go with a friend
Always take a buddy with you when you can. Having another person with you as a beginner serves as a great motivator when you feel like turning around or giving up, and can make a crucial difference if your journey goes awry.
Tell someone where you are going
One of the best safety precautions you can take is to let a trusted source know where you are going to be and how long you may be out. Even though it is highly unlikely that something serious will happen it can pay off big time in case something does go wrong.
Wear/bring proper gear
Never forget to pack bug spray, sunscreen, hiking shoes, water, snacks- the works! On shorter hikes, you can stand to pack more lightly – but if your hike includes a little more distance, it is best to be prepared.
Lock your car
Though the potential for break-ins are extremely low, most trailheads are in remote locations that are easy for robbers to get into when all the hikers are out on the trails. Remember not leave any valuables in your vehicle and lock your doors.
Hiking is for everyone. If you have kids or spend time with friends who have kids, there are plenty of kid-friendly trails in beautiful locations. The more the merrier!