5 Hiking Tips for Beginners

Hiking Pinnacle Mountain State Park
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Getting Started Hiking as a Beginner

Imagine cresting that last summit on a long grueling hike. You woke up when the sun was still down, you saw the sun rise into day break and sit for hours in the sky above. You’ve been walking for hours, it feels like days, but you’re finally here. You’ve made it to the top of the mountain, looking out over the panoramic views of the range below. But how’d you get here?

Hiking for the first time can be scary, you see all of those posts on Instagram with people holding ice picks a mile in the air. But where are the beginner hikes and how do you even learn to ice pick and what is thruhiking? While these are all great goals to have in mind, they don’t necessarily teach you how to start.

Continue reading these five beginner hiking tips to get you on the trail and to the summit!

Hiking Mt Le Conte in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
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1 – Beginner Hikes are a Thing

Yes, you can head out on a short half mile hike through the woods and that is considered a hike. Or, if you want to see those mountain views, many popular destination hikes have beginner versions. Take Springer Mountain for example.

Springer Mountain is the start of the famous Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail, but is also just a great view point in North Georgia. This mountain is for some of the toughest hikers out there, setting off on their multi month and state long journey. But, this mountain is also perfect for beginner hikers.

The mountain features various hikes to the summit ranging from an easy 1.8 mile hike to over a 15 mile hike. Everyone gets to enjoy the same view while taking the route that fits them best.

Besides mountains with varying trails and entrance points, most parks – even national parks – have trails of all levels exploring the entirety of the park.

Check blogs, park websites, or download AllTrails and set your level as easy or beginner.

Hiking Shenandoah National Park
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2 – Prepare for Everything

A walk in the park may sound like, well, a walk in the park. But it is good to start familiarizing yourself with hiking essentials from the beginning. Plus, there’s a reason be prepared is the Boy Scout motto.

This is a major beginner hiking tip that will travel with you through your beginner hikes to your expert hikes.

How do you prepare?

First, pack layers. Whether you’re hiking through a field of flowers or up a mountain side, the weather can change fast and when it does, mother nature has no mercy. It’s always good to dress in layers so you can easily remove layers when it heats up, or add layers when it starts getting chilly. Keep a light rain jacket in your bag, too. Rain jackets are great for throwing over anything in a bout.

Bring or download a map. Even if the trail is short or you think you know the area, bring the dang map. Terrain shifts and weather wreaks havoc. AllTrails Pro – and other options – do have downloadable maps for offline use to keep you safe and on the trail. Another great way to stay ahead of the game is get a GPS tracker that you can use in the backcountry so you are always connected.

Remember, even if you think it won’t, it could.

Hiking Appalachian Trail
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3 – Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

Did I say hydrate? Yes, hydrate!

The general consensus is to bring half a liter per hour of hiking. Obviously this varies on exertion, pace, and difficulty. And just general body differences. It is important to find a water carrying system that works best for you whether it is a bladder backpack or a large water bottle.

If you need a lot of water but you don’t want to carry much but need the water – and in an area with plentiful water sources – look to investing in a filtered water bottle.

While it is important to stay hydrated, remember to stay cool in other ways like using these great cooling towels when it’s hot out, wear a hat, and breathable clothing.

Remember to hydrate before and after your hike, too. It is important to hydrate yourself the day before and then replenish after you finish up your hike.

Old Rag Shenandoah National Park
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4 – Fuel Up

Food is fuel. Now say it with me… food is fuel.

You burn an astonishing amount of calories and exert a load of energy while hiking. Plus, you’re lugging around extra pounds on your back, you will burn off everything.

Be sure to pack protein rich snacks for the hike. My new obsession are these Bada Bean Bada Boom beans to get a nice salty crunch while walking. Fueling is important to sustain your energy and strength, plus food helps to retain water. The saltiness of snacks helps hold in the water so you are not constantly peeing out everything you just took in.

The day before the hike, be sure to eat carbohydrate and protein rich meals and steer clear of anything that drags you down like greasy foods.

Once you finish your hike, be sure to replenish with a nice filling meal.

Hiking Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
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5 – Keep You Friends and Family Informed

It’s super important to always have an informant on the outside. Make sure you tell at least one friend or family member your plans, when you will arrive, and expect to be back. This person should know all of your emergency information in case anything might go wrong. It is highly unlikely for something to go wrong but let’s not forget rule number one, be prepared.

Before and after your hike be sure to call or text your informant on your whereabouts. If you have a strong cell phone provider, you may even have a chance to message them at the top of the mountain!

Clingmans Dome Great Smoky Mountain National Park
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While on the Trail

Remember to stay safe and always follow the Leave No Trace principles:

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impact
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors

Most importantly, have fun and try something new. Who knows, this may be your new favorite activity!

Hiking is a great activity to meet others, learn about new places, and maybe even discover something new about yourself.

Don’t be discouraged and follow these hiking tips for beginners and start on your hiking journey.

Bonus Beginner Hiking Hits

Let me know in the comments your favorite beginner hiking tips!

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Andrews Bald Great Smoky Mountain National Park
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