hiking tips for beginners

A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking: Tips For a Successful Adventure

Are you looking for hiking tips for beginners? Check out our guide for everything you need to know to start your next hike!

Hiking is a great way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get some exercise. But if you’re new to hiking, it can be a little daunting. This is why you need to know all the beginner hiking tips.

Before you set out on your hike, it’s important to do some planning and preparation. This includes choosing the right trail for your skill level, ensuring you have the proper gear, and knowing what to expect regarding the weather and scenery.

This article will share some essential hiking tips for beginners to help you get started. By the end, you’ll be ready to hit the trails confidently!

Hiking tips for beginners

Let’s look at the 16 top hiking tips for beginners for a successful adventure as you hit the trails.

Leave no trace

You should always practice the 7 Leave No Trace principles when you hike. They are:

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other hikers
Leave no trace principles

Start with an easy hike.

It’s a good idea to start with a simple hike, preferably in a place you’re already familiar with. If you live close to nature, it might be just up the hills from your house or on the outskirts of your city.

beginners guide to hiking
hiking trails with signages

The best hiking trails for beginners are those that last two to three hours, are simple to navigate, and have clear signs. Before you become more comfortable on the trails, avoid any technical hikes and steep trails.

Look for a well-marked trail with a gentle grade. Avoid trails with steep inclines or descents, as well as those with technical features like rock scrambles or creek crossings.

Your level of fitness is another thing to think about. If you are in good shape, start small by choosing a shorter hike. You can always work up to longer, more challenging hikes as you get more experience.

Start early

When you first begin hiking, you might need more time. Beginners frequently use more time for a variety of reasons.

beginners guide to hiking
early morning hikers
  • Beginners may need to be more familiar with the trail, so it may take them longer to navigate. 
  • They may not be as fit as experienced hikers and may need more breaks. 
  • Beginners may have different experiences planning and packing for a hike, which can add to the time needed.

Hiking is physically demanding; beginners must build their strength and endurance before attempting a long hike. 

Starting early gives beginners time to learn the basics of hiking, such as reading a map and finding their way back to the trailhead if they get lost. They will also have more time to enjoy the scenery and the beauty of the outdoors.

Related: How to Pack Your Backpack for Hiking: 6 Expert Tips

Check the weather forecast.

Before you set out on a hike, it’s important to check the weather forecast. There are a few reasons why hikers check the weather forecast before hiking. 

  • Safety: Hiking in extreme weather conditions can be dangerous, and it’s essential to know the weather before you embark on a hike. 
  • Comfort: Hiking in bad weather can be miserable, so knowing what to expect is helpful before you set out. 
  • Planning: Knowing the forecast can help you plan your hike to avoid bad weather and hike in ideal conditions.

This will help you dress appropriately and plan for any potentially dangerous conditions. If the forecast is calling for bad weather, it’s best to reschedule your hike for another day.

Choose popular routes

hiking tips for beginners
hiking route

One of the best things you can do when hiking is to choose popular routes. Popular routes are well-traveled and usually have good signage. 

Finding your way back to the trail will be easier if you get lost. Furthermore, popular routes are generally easier to hike, so you won’t have to worry about getting too tired.

Hike with friends

hiking guide for beginners
hiking with friends

Hiking with friends is a great way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. Going out with someone who has done it before and possibly knows the route you’re taking always makes you feel more at ease. This also strengthens the sense of security.

But did you know that hiking with friends can also greatly benefit your health? Spending time in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety, and hiking with friends is a great way to get some time in nature. Your mood, sense of well-being, and immune system are boosted.

Download a map of the route

Knowing the route well before hiking is one of the best hiking advice for beginners. One excellent way to do this is to download a path map. 

hiking tips for beginners
hiking map

You should read all the hike-related information to know the various landmarks. 

There are many reasons why it is essential to download a route map when hiking. The most important reason is safety. A map can help you plan your route, avoid dangerous areas, and find your way back if you get lost.

A map ensures that you stay on the trail. This is important in areas with many off-trail options, such as wilderness areas. It also helps plan your trip, track progress, and find exciting features.

Bring enough water and food.

When hiking, it is important to bring enough water and food. This is because you will exert yourself and need to replenish your fluids and energy. Additionally, you will be in a remote location and will not have access to these things if you run out.

hiking guide for beginners
woman eating a snack

Water is essential for survival, and you should always have enough. Aim to bring at least one liter of water per person per hour of hiking. If it is hot, you will need more. Pack extra in case you get lost or there is an emergency.

Food is also essential as it will give you the energy to keep going. Depending on the length and intensity of your hike, you may need to bring snacks or a meal. Bring foods high in calories and easy to eat, such as energy bars or trail mix. 

Related: What is Backpacking? A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners.

Bring layers of clothing.

When you are hiking, it is important to wear layers of clothing. The temperature varies greatly depending on the time of day and activity level. With enough clothing, you can easily adjust to the changing conditions and remain comfortable throughout your hike.

Wear good hiking shoes or boots

Wearing proper footwear is essential for a successful and safe hike. Good hiking shoes or boots will provide support and stability on uneven terrain, help you keep your balance when crossing streams, and protect your feet from rocks, roots, and other obstacles.

tips for beginner hikers
hiking shoes

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing hiking footwear. They are;

  • Ensure the shoes or boots fit correctly. They should be snug but not too tight and have enough room to wiggle your toes.
  • Consider the type of terrain you’ll be hiking on. If hiking on rocky trails, look for shoes or boots with good traction. 
  • Ensure you break in your shoes or boots before hitting the trail. Nothing ruins an enjoyable hike like blisters!

Bring a good hiking backpack.

When hiking, having a good backpack is essential for carrying your gear. A good backpack will have plenty of room for all your supplies, and it should be comfortable to wear for long periods. 

hiking tips for beginners
hiking backpack

In general, you should look for a backpack that is durable, comfortable to wear, and has many compartments. Water bottle side pockets and hiking poles attachments also come in handy.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, consider getting a backpack with a built-in rain cover. If you’re hiking in an area with a lot of wildlife, you should get a backpack with a built-in bear spray holder.

Also Read: How To Waterproof A Backpack for Hiking (The Complete Guide)

Bring sun protection

Whether you’re hitting the trails for a day hike or a week-long backpacking trip, it’s vital to pack sun protection. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin, even on cloudy days, leading to early skin aging and skin cancer.

beginners hiking tips
woman using sunscreen spray

Pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses in your backpack to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, and seek shade when possible. 

Taking these precautions allows you to enjoy your time outdoors while keeping your skin safe.

Bring a portable charger.

Your phone can be a lifesaver if you get lost or hurt, so it’s essential to ensure it’s always charged. A portable charger will keep your phone charged even if you’re miles from the nearest outlet.

tips for hiking
portable charger

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a portable charger. You’ll want to ensure it’s lightweight and durable so that it will only add a little weight to your backpack. The charger should be compatible with your devices and have enough power to charge them fully. 

Also Read: How to Use a USB Charging Port in a Backpack

Hike at your own pace

When hiking, it is important to hike at your own pace. This will ensure that you stay energized and enjoy the hike. 

Many factors can affect your pace, such as the terrain, weather, and fitness level. It is important to listen to your body and hike at a pace that is comfortable for you.

It can also be a great way to bond with nature. When you are not in a hurry, you can take time to enjoy the scenery and immerse yourself in the experience. 

Wildlife encounters

While hiking through the woods, you may come across all sorts of different wildlife. Keep the leave no trace principles in mind whenever you encounter wildlife while hiking. 

beginner hikers
Animal in the wild

Most animals are harmless and will go about their business, but some can be aggressive and threaten hikers.

Here are some tips to avoid wildlife encounters when hiking:

  • Respect their space: Don’t approach wildlife; if you see an animal on the trail, give it plenty of room to pass.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Pay attention to your surroundings and look for signs of animals, such as fresh tracks or droppings.

Remember to avoid feeding the animals and keep your distance from them.

First Aid emergency kit

guide for hiking
Emergency kit

Every hiker should have a first aid kit with them at all times, as you never know when an emergency will occur. A basic first aid kit should include bandages, antiseptic, pain relievers, and a splint. You may also want to add other items, such as a sting relief spray, an emergency blanket, and a whistle.

In addition to having a first aid kit, you should also know how to use it. Be sure to take a first aid lesson before hitting the trails to prepare you for any emergency that may come your way.

Final thoughts on hiking tips for beginners

In conclusion, hiking can be an excellent activity for people of all ages. However, it is important to be prepared before embarking on a hike. 

Beginners should start with short, easy hikes and gradually work their way up to longer and more challenging hikes. 

It is also essential to dress appropriately for the weather, wear comfortable shoes, and bring plenty of water. By following these tips, beginners can have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

Related: How to Attach Trekking Poles to Your Backpack in 5 Simple Ways

What is the most basic rule of hiking?

The best thing you can do when hiking is to remember the “golden rule”: treat others the way you want to be treated and respect the wildlife and lands of the great national parks.

How long should I hike as a beginner?

Choose a hike under 5 miles long with little climbing if you’re starting. Create a training schedule in advance if you intend to hike longer. Increase your weekly mileage by one or two miles until you reach your desired distance.

Should you hike fast or slow?

It may be more effective to hike slowly. Breaks are excellent for recovery, but a more strategic course of action might be to keep doing what you’re already doing. Slow down so you can breathe, and you’ll keep going for long.

How far should you hike in a day?

Day hikes depend on your fitness level, the terrain you’ll be hiking on, and the weather conditions. However, as a general rule, most beginners should aim at short hikes and gradually increase the miles.

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