Hiking Tips for Beginners

Hiking is an amazing way to experience the great outdoors and connect with nature. But getting out there for the first time can be intimidating. Here are some tips on making your first hike successful.

Research

The first step to a successful hiking trip is to do your research. Research the trail and what to expect. If you are hiking during the time of year when there may still be snow on the trails, look for recent hike reviews on websites like AllTrails. This is a great way to find out the shape the trail is in ahead of time.

Research the weather. The weather can affect the quality of the trail, and it will affect what clothing you should wear.

Also, make sure to research parking– you may need a special permit or parking pass. Some trailheads are found at the end of unmaintained dirt or gravel roads that require a vehicle capable of going off-road. There is nothing worse than traveling an hour to get to a hike and then your car can’t get you to the trailhead. 

Prepare

Broken top hike Central oregon
View from the top of Broken Top

Being well prepared will allow you to have the best, and safest, hiking experience possible. Finding the perfect level of preparation can be tricky, but after a few hikes, you are sure to have it down to a science. 

Depending on the weather, you may want to wear different things. Wear layers, especially when going for morning hikes, so you can quickly adjust to changing temperatures by adding or removing layers. Wearing proper shoes is also essential, as the terrain while hiking can be uneven and slippery; you want to protect both your feet and your ankles. 

Let others know where you will be. In an emergency, having people know where you are can be a literal lifesaver. 

Pack the Essentials

This list is not exhaustive, but these are some important items to pack:

  • First aid kit
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Pocket knife
  • Matches
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Headlamp/flashlight

Optional Additions

These are not necessary but can be good additions to your hiking pack.

  • Anti-chafing stick
  • Extra deodorant
  • Bear mace
  • Foldable shovel
  • Rope or paracord
  • Hammock
  • Deck of cards

Hydrate

Don’t forget your water. Bring more than you think you might need. It is always better to have too much water rather than not enough.

Oregon hike misery ridge terrebonne smith rock state park
Misery Ridge hike at Smith Rock State Park

Be Patient

Especially if this is your first hike ever, be patient with yourself. You don’t want to get injured. Don’t be afraid to take breaks along the way to rest and drink water (and enjoy the beautiful scenery). 

If you are hiking with a partner or a group, be patient with others. Hiking is meant to be a positive experience for everyone involved; encouragement and patience go a long way in keeping the experience fun for the whole group. 

Be Present

Try to stay off your phone, unless you are taking pictures of the great scenery, and be in the moment. There is so much to learn from slowing down and taking it all in.

Be Respectful

Please be respectful to the environment and other people. This goes for all outdoor adventures, not just hiking. Pack it in, pack it out and leave no trace are two common sayings in the hiking community; they both essentially mean the same thing: do not leave anything behind. You want to leave the space the same way you found it, or better when possible. If you see a piece of garbage someone else has left behind, pick it up. 

Hiking etiquette

Here are the basics of hiking etiquette:

  • Hikers going uphill have the right of way. 
  • Greet other hikers! A quick hello will suffice, or even a head nod. 
  • Stay on the trail.
  • Don’t mess with the wildlife.

Have Fun

You are ready for your first hike! So get out there and have fun, but don’t forget to stop and appreciate the beauty of nature! 

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