Hiking can be an exhilarating experience, it can connect you with nature and serve as a fantastic adventure –while at the same time providing a great workout. Whether you’re setting out for an adventure in a state or national park, or you have opted for a more urban adventure, here’s a short guide to get you started on your hiking journey.

First things first: What to wear

Comfortable Footwear

A pair of sturdy, well-fitting hiking boots or shoes with good ankle support are ideal, but a pair of sneakers will do just fine when you are starting out. Appropriate footwear is essential.  Also factoring in recent weather and terrain conditions is important. Will you need waterproof boots or shoes; will you need slip-deterrent equipment (example: Crampons)? Getting stuck on the trail with inappropriate footwear can be very dangerous.  Please don’t hike in flip flops.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather. Moisture-wicking fabrics vs. cotton will keep you much more comfortable. When cotton gets wet it clings to the body and will keep you cold and damp.

A hat

Baseball cap in summer, wool in winter, a head covering of some sort is a good thing to have with you.

Jacket

Pack a waterproof jacket, especially if there’s a chance of rain. Weather conditions change without notice, you always want to be prepared.

What to bring

Backpack

Choose a comfortable backpack with enough capacity for essentials. Always pack an extra pair of socks.

Navigation Tools

Bring a map, compass, or GPS device to help you navigate the trail. If it is your cell phone make sure it is charged and that you have downloaded any maps in case there is no service where you are. Keep in mind that a lot of areas have no cell towers. Having a physical map is always a good idea.

Water

Make sure you have water, more than you think you actually need. You never know if you might be out longer than you expect.

Snacks

Pack energy-boosting snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and fruits. And make sure to bring a small sack to put your trash in so that you can carry it back out with you.

Sunscreen

Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against the sun.

First Aid Kit

Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications.

Water

Make sure you have water, more than you think you actually need. You never know if you might be out longer than you expect.

Snacks

Pack energy-boosting snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and fruits. And make sure to bring a small sack to put your trash in so that you can carry it back out with you.

Sunscreen

Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against the sun.

First Aid Kit

Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications.

Trail Essentials

Headlamp/Flashlight

Carry a headlamp and extra batteries, even for day hikes, in case your return is delayed.

Multi-Tool

A small multi-tool can be handy for minor repairs or adjustments.

Emergency Whistle

In case of emergencies, a whistle can help attract attention.

Matches and/or a flint

Something to carry out your trash

A zip lock bag will do just fine.

(Note: For urban hiking, some of these items are not necessary but being prepared is always a good idea, so having a backpack that is well stocked and ready to go is really great.)

What to Know – Trail Etiquette

Stay on the Trail

Avoid wandering off marked paths to protect the environment. While avoiding the big mud puddle may sound like a great idea in actuality, going around it will disturb the flora and fauna, make the trail wider or puddle bigger, and may disrupt some endangered plant life. If it does not endanger you to go through it, get your feet dirty. That is what boots are for.

Leave No Trace

In other words, take your garbage with you–even food scraps–we don’t want to attract  animals to the trails or waste in the woods. You don’t want Yogi the bear on your  heels. If you bring it in, you bring it out. Leave nothing behind except your footprints. Don’t pick or disturb plants. Don’t cut down standing trees, live or dead. Don’t move rocks. Don’t disturb wildlife. Yield to Others: Uphill hikers have the right of way. Be courteous and share the trail.

Yield to Others

Uphill hikers have the right of way. Be courteous and share the trail.

Quiet Hiking

Keep noise levels down to preserve the peacefulness of nature. There is no need for a boom box here. This is a place for self reflection, quiet contemplation, and conversation.

Safety Tips:

Check the Weather

Before you go, be aware of the weather forecast for the area. And understand it can change at any time.

Tell Someone Your Plans

Always let a friend or family member know about your hiking plans, including your expected return time. If there is a log book at the trailhead, use it. Know Your Limits: Choose a trail that matches your fitness level and experience. Keep track of the time.

Know Your Limits

Choose a trail that matches your fitness level and experience. Keep track of the time.

Wildlife Awareness

Learn about the wildlife in the area and how to react if you encounter them. Rest periodically to prevent fatigue. Enjoy the scenery! Remember, each hike is a unique adventure, so adjust your preparation accordingly. Enjoy the outdoors, stay safe, and happy hiking!

Remember, each hike is a unique adventure, so adjust your preparation accordingly. Enjoy the outdoors, stay safe, and happy hiking!