The Ultimate Hiking Guide

Hiking is a popular activity because it can be done by young or older folks. A great way to get in touch with nature, hiking also helps you to get some exercise, very easily. This is why hiking is such an awesome outdoor activity. Here are some tips for those going on a hike.

Hiking Safety

It is better to hike along with a friend or some family member rather than going alone. Before you set off, inform someone about where you are going and how long you will be gone. Take adequate drinking water with you as the water in streams may not be safe. If you are going on a longer trip, you can boil the stream water and drink it. Always stick to the marked trail to avoid getting lost. There are a lot of poisonous plants so cover yourself as much as possible and learn to identify plants so you can avoid them as far as possible. Carry a first aid case with you and be aware of steps to be taken in case of an emergency.

Hiking Foods

When you are hiking, a balanced meal is quite different from a regular balanced meal. Since you are exercising, your meal should include more calories and proteins. It’s also important to make sure you don’t overload on the heavier foods because you will be carrying your own food. Drink more water than usual so that you do not get dehydrated. Fruits, tuna, dried fruits, cheese, candy bars, and energy bars are ideal for a day hike. If you are going on overnight trips, you can take cereals, bread, salami, jam, margarine or some instant foods.

  • Food Safety: Discusses how to keep food safe during outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and boating.
  • Food for Hiking: Provides a guideline for preparing hiking food.

First Aid Kit for Hiking

Before you set off, you should make sure that you carry a first aid kit along. A first aid kit for hiking should have bandages/band aids, tweezers, thermometers, antibiotic ointment, pain killer, alcohol wipes, bug spray, and small utility knife. You should also have a manual with first aid instructions. Readymade first aid kits are also available at a lot of stores with a reference on what to do in emergency situations.

  • First Aid: Explains the importance of first aid in your hiking trip with list of essential items.
  • Building a First Aid Kit: Shows how to build an essential first aid kit for all your hiking needs.

Conditioning and Stretching Before the Hike

Even though hiking is not considered to be a strenuous activity, it’s important to condition and stretch your body before the hike. Hiking in some of the more strenuous trails can be a quite a challenge, even for people who are generally fit. To prepare for the more difficult trails, you can use stair steppers, treadmills, elliptical, and climbing machines to help tone your legs. Walking is the most basic form of exercise and it helps build your stamina and cardio. Stretching and balancing exercises are also great because they strengthen your muscles. Lunges and squats help to build your endurance and you can carry weights while walking to get accustomed to carrying the backpack during the hike.

  • Hiking Training: Shows how to get into shape for your hiking trip.
  • Long Hike: Some tips to help prepare your body for long hikes.

Appropriate Hiking Gear and Clothing

Wear appropriate clothing according to the weather and places where you will be going. Carry raincoats and extra set of clothes in case of rain. Full pants and full sleeved shirts or t-shirts are excellent as they prevent insect bites and poison from plants. If you are unsure about weather changes, layer your clothes. Hiking boots or shoes are essential to make the hike easier as is a comfortable backpack to carry things in. Always carry a map and compass to be sure you know where you are going. A utility knife, flashlight, whistle, first aid kit, waterproof matches, sun screen, insect repellent, water, and food are other things you should bring on your hiking trip.

Hiking Footwear

The right footwear is very important for hiking. Hiking boots make your hike comfortable and they also protect you from bugs, dirt, rocks, and rain. There are high boots, regular boots, and even hiking sandals. Choose the right footwear according to where you are hiking.

Group/Family Hiking

A hike with the family or a group of friends is a great way to bond while you get in touch with nature. Hiking in groups is also safer than hiking alone because you can rely on one another. When you are hiking in a group, you will hardly be bored and the trip will take on another dimension. If you are hiking with kids, it’s important to be extra cautious and prepared.

Seasonal Hiking

Hiking seasons is related to the weather in each region. The main hiking season is during summer, the warmest months of the year. During fall, the weather becomes chillier, and then winter is really cold, making it quite impossible to hike in the more challenging trails. Spring is when the snow and ice gives way to sunshine. The weather is still not as predictable as summer and some trails may not allow hiking due to muddy trails. Before you go on a hike, be sure to check if the trails are open.

  • State Parks: Provides information on the State Parks of Massachusetts with seasonal details.
  • Seasonal Hikes: A primer for people who are interested to go on the Appalachian Trail.

Wild Animals

During the hike, you may come across some wild animals. Don’t be alarmed. Animals tend to attack only when they are startled or disturbed. Make sufficient noise while hiking so that animals are aware of your presence. Avoid hiking at night. If you see an animal, do not provoke it. Just back up slowly instead of running. Being calm is essential.

  • Black Bear Safety: Learn the safety techniques when you meet up with a wild black bear.
  • Wildlife Safety: Offers some tips on what to do when you come into contact with wild animals.

Preserving Trailways

It is important to preserve nature and respect it. Keep the place as clean if not better than it was when you came. That means not leaving behind any waste, taking garbage bags with you, and disposing stuff once you reach home. Do not feed wildlife or disturb the plants and trees around.

  • Rules, Safety & Etiquette: Discusses the rules, safety, and etiquette of using the Phoenix Desert and Mountain Preserve Trails.
  • Hiking Trails: Offers information on the Hills of Duluth with a section on trail etiquette.

Popular National Trails/Parks

There are trails in almost all national parks in the United States. Some of the popular trails are Breakneck Ridge Trail in Hudson Highlands State Park, Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, Mount Whitney, and Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado.

Unlike most other sports or activities, hiking can be quite easily done by amateurs as well as experts. The important thing is to know the suitable level of hiking. No matter how easy the trail, always make sure you bring along the necessary things. 

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