Beginners Guide to Hiking: 9 Essential Tips

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me out on plenty of hiking adventures. Hiking is one of my favorite ways to spend the day, I love checking out new trails and scenery, meeting people along the way and of course traveling to new hiking destinations.

Unlike walking on a treadmill, or paved path, hiking involves more and sometimes comes with unpredictable variables. I once came across a ladder in a rock “wall” that I had to climb up. Recently, I have received a lot of questions in regards to hiking, and I thought I would share my 9 essential hiking tips for beginners that will help you when you’re out on your first trek.

9 Essential Hiking Tips for Beginners
1. Start small
Choose a hike a little shorter than the distance you can normally walk on a level paved surface. Make sure that the hike is right for your fitness level.
Pro Tip: To estimate the time required to hike a trail, figure a pace of approximately 2-miles per hour. For every 1,000 feet of elevation, you should add an hour to your time.

2. Get familiar with the trail
This is something I didn’t do in the beginning. Not only did I end up walking 6 miles on sand dunes out of my way one time in 90-degree weather, but I also ran out of water. Knowing where the trail goes is now one of the most important tips that I can give. Find out if the trail is a loop or if you will need to backtrack. Do trails intersect? If they do this is where you could potentially make a wrong turn if you know where you are going this is less of an issue.
Pro Tip: I like to find a lunch spot with a view, and being familiar with the trail before I get on it allows me to plan accordingly.

3. Tell someone where you will be
It is important that someone who is not on the hike knows where you will be and what the itinerary is.
Pro Tip: The “worry time” I give someone is several hours later than my planned finished time. I do this because sometimes I stop so many times for amazing views it adds hours onto my hike. I also have a knee that will act up sometimes, and therefore slow me down. Just make sure someone knows where you are and you give them a comfortable “worry time.”

4. Check the weather
This one might seem obvious, but it has definitely gotten hikers into trouble. Leading up to your hike and even right before, check the weather. Not only will it help you know what you need to pack and how you need to dress, but it will help you avoid surprise weather changes while you’re out.

5. Wear the right shoes and socks
Painful feet are a quick way to ruin anyone’s day. If you’re going to hike make sure you invest in quality hiking shoes and socks.
Pro Tip: Do not wear cotton socks, make sure you wear wool or synthetic socks. Also, be sure that the socks do NOT have a seam, seams are a great way to cause blisters and destroy your toenails.

7. Bring a hiking pack
Even if you’re just going on a “quick” little hike, I still recommend a backpack. It’s great to hold sun protection, food, water, and first aid supplies. Of course, if you’re going on a longer hike (especially if it is more remote), you will want to pack other supplies.

8. Pace yourself
Remember, this is not a race. You don’t want to burn off all your energy at the beginning of the hike, you want to save it for times when you really need it, such as a couple of miles uphill.

9. Leave no trace
This is probably one of the most important things you can do when you’re out on a hike. The trails will only remain beautiful if we take care of them. So make sure when you’re out you leave no trace. Don’t leave wrappers or banana peels behind. Take everything back with you that you came with.

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