If you had told me 10, 15, 20 years ago that I would like hiking, I would have thought you had lost your mind. I am, by nature, (haha) not an outdoorsy girl. The older I get, the more I seem to enjoy being outside though, and there is something about starting a task and seeing it through that appeals to me. We are no experts (my husband & I), however we have learned a thing or two that might be helpful.
Download the AllTrails App. I’m sure people have been hiking for years without technology, but it’s available so why not take advantage of it? We use this app on almost every hike we go on. Some of our favorite features are the maps, trail reviews, personal statistics tracker (miles hiked, elevation gained, calories burned, etc.). The app will show you trails near you or you can search by destination. The map feature is handy so that you can keep track of how far you have left (or how far you’ve already come!). Just remember to download the map before you hit the trail as you may not have signal once you get out in the boonies, and many trails aren’t well marked. Some features require subscription to the “Pro” version, but many are free.
Pack a bag. Unless it is a super short hike, we always take at least one bag. Most of the time, we each take one. What do we take with us? Water, water, water, and more water. I know 2, 3,…5 miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but you want to make sure you have plenty (now, you don’t want to overdo it and drink too much either). Snacks. We usually take some granola bars, slim jim sticks, or snack crackers, just something to get a little boost of energy if you need it. This is especially helpful if you have kids with you. I mean they think they’re starving on a regular day, let alone on a 2-3 hour hike. Rain gear. We’ve been rained on more than once, so we now take a cheap poncho with us, just in case. 1st aid kit. We have a small one with just some band-aids, wipes, and antibiotic ointment. Bug spray and sunscreen. If you’re not going to be out long enough to reapply, I would put some on before you head out and leave it behind. No need to have extra weight to carry around.
Wear the right clothes. Obviously, you will want to check the forecast ahead of your hike, if possible, so that you can dress for the weather you will encounter. Having said that, there are some basics that will apply regardless. First and foremost, wear shoes appropriate for the hike. We recommend hiking shoes or boots. They will be more likely to provide the traction, support, and durability you will want. Maybe more important than the shoes is a good pair of socks. Merino wool is a good choice as it will provide cushion while also keeping your feet from getting too sweaty. As we said above, plan for the weather if you can, but dressing in layers will allow you to adapt to unexpected changes in weather.
Start early. This will help you avoid a crowd on the trails. Depending on the length of the trail, it will also help to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.
Let someone know where you’re going. Last, but certainly not least, tell someone where you are going. Goodness forbid something unforeseen happen, but if it does you want to make sure someone knows where you are.