Hiking has recently seen rapid growth in its popularity. It is pretty easy to see why more and more people are taking to the trails. Hiking is great physical exercise and often provides excellent scenic views of nature.
While hiking is rarely a dangerous activity, and often a very pleasurable experience, it is still much better to be safe than sorry. Being unprepared for a hike can lead to unnecessary risks for you and your fellow hikers.
Thankfully, we’ve put together a helpful guide so that whether you’re a beginner or burgeoning hiking expert, you can be prepared for any trail. If you’re planning on hitting the trails, read on to find out everything you need to know.
Before You Go
When going hiking, the most important thing is to do your homework and be prepared. Hikers need to know about the location of their hike beforehand, as different types of hiking trails all pose their own unique risks. Those risks include dehydration, dangerous water crossings, animal attacks and hypothermia.
It is key to plan your route ahead of time and ensure everyone you will be hiking with is caught up on the plan. You will also want to make sure you come prepared in terms of the proper attire and gear. Some basic survival items include compasses, maps, water, food and weather-appropriate gear, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.
Before leaving on your hike, be sure to inform family members or close friends exactly where you will be and give them a phone number where they can reach you. It is also very important to ensure your cell phone is fully charged; you never know what unexpected challenges will pop up, and it’s definitely not fun to be stuck on the trail with no means of communication.
On the Trail
First and foremost, we highly recommend you don’t hike on your own. Now, if you’re just going for a short hike or stroll through a nature path that has high traffic or you’re very familiar with the area, then you should be okay. Generally speaking, it is always best to hike with at least one partner. A partner (or multiple hiking buddies) can help split up duties, apply first aid and hike back to the beginning of the trail for assistance in case of injury. There is, of course, also safety in numbers, and hiking with friends can ward off any unwanted attention from strangers or animals.
It is also important to be reasonable and use common sense while hiking. While many people hike to challenge themselves both mentally and physically, it is important to know your limits and not push yourself too hard. Hiking can be an exhilarating experience, but don’t get carried away and start thinking you’re invincible. Hiking can be a blast, but there’s no reason to tempt fate.
After the Hike
We can’t stress enough how important it is to hydrate and eat well before, during and after your hike. No matter what your level of fitness is, hiking can take a serious toll on your body. Aside from proper nutrition and hydration, you should pay attention to your body and respond accordingly. If you’re feeling sore or tired, then take the time to rest up and let your body heal. If you suffered any sort of injury on the trail, don’t underestimate it and seek medical attention.
If you’re taking up hiking as a way to challenge yourself and get fit, consider monitoring your progress and tracking your hikes. Knowing the distance and difficulty of your hiking trail can help you set and reach milestones and continually challenge yourself. If you’re just hiking for enjoyment and scenery, make sure to recognize your own accomplishments as well.
For those who are more experienced hikers, you already know the joys of challenging yourself on the trail and the memorable experiences of exploring nature with friends. For those who are new to hiking but want to get into it, we know it can seem daunting at first, but by following our tips and tricks, you can go a long way to ensuring your hiking experiences are stress free and enjoyable.
Whether you plan to bring along a notebook to track your hike details or a camera to capture the beautiful scenes from the trail, make sure to do your research ahead of time and impress your hiking partners with your knowledge. Above all, make sure you have fun! We hope this short guide was helpful to you. Happy hiking!
What did we miss? Do you have any hiking safety tips you think could help a beginner hiker out? We would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!