Five Tips for the Rookie Hiker

Getting started in the outdoors can be a challenge. Knowing where to go, what to do, and what gear you need requires some thought and planning, which can seem daunting in itself. Below are a few tips to get you started, provide some motivation, and finally share your experiences with others!

Planning well for a beginner means sticking to trails that are easy to navigate. Plus one for trails that have maps to keep you grounded! @ East Palisades Trail, Chattahoochee River Nat'l Rec Area in Atlanta

Planning well for a beginner means sticking to trails that are easy to navigate. Plus one for trails that have maps to keep you grounded! @ East Palisades Trail, Chattahoochee River Nat'l Rec Area in Atlanta

1. Research your Hike — yes, the photos on Instagram and Google Images are nice, but you should take a bit of time to look into the hike you are considering. A combination of web searches that produce reviews from general tourists, advanced hikers, and even novice hikers will give you a full spectrum of what to expect and anticipate. A few of our favorite sources are AllTrails, The Outbound, and TripAdvisor.

 2. Explore with a Friend — Not only can having a friend out make your time more enjoyable, it can also make it safer. Exploring with a friend allows you to look out for each other’s well-being. It also allows you to push each other when difficult segments arise. In addition, there may be times when temperature rises quicker than predicted, water source becomes depleted, or an unexpected outdoor encounter occurs. Whatever the case – preparation is key. Hiking solo is certainly an option, but if you choose to, you should tell a friend/park ranger your location and expected time of return.

Research. Plan your adventure. Make a checklist of things you need. Make moves!

 3. Make Yourself Comfortable — if you’re not comfortable, little else matters. Hiking is a fun, liberating, and sometimes challenging experience! The key to being comfortable is knowing what you're okay doing and matching that with your trek. Additionally, make sure you have items necessary to make your trip more pleasant. Purchasing a durable pair of hiking shoes/boots will be a big step (pun intended) in the right direction. The right shoes keep your feet cool (or warm in cold climate), facilitate mobility and agility, and provide the support you need to finish your hike. Other items to consider: fitness wear, lightweight hats that protect against the sun, water backpack, first aid kit, electrolytes, energy bars, etc.

 
Eze hanging out @ Horeshoe Bend in Arizona. This overlook is a short walk from a nearby parking lot - no crazy gear required!

Eze hanging out @ Horeshoe Bend in Arizona. This overlook is a short walk from a nearby parking lot - no crazy gear required!

 

4. Take It Slow -- as you become a more experienced hiker, you are going to want to take on more challenges, and rightfully so. As a rookie hiker, we suggest a modest start to build confidence and experience. To begin, try visiting more popular destinations, as they will have other hikers on the trail with you. Look into nearby parks (city, state, and national) and recreation areas for easy opportunities to get outdoors. Trails within the more popular parks are typically well-marked and well-maintained. You will be safe and will continue to build your confidence as you journey on. 

5. Share Your Accomplishments! — Respect the progress of a baby step! You would be surprised how many of your friends are inspired by your exploration and adventure. One word from your story could be the spark that someone needs. BOOM – a new adventurist on their way! Don’t forget to document your experiences, no matter how simple or challenging. There is a learned lesson from each and every journey. Having the ability to unpack your experience in words, pictures, and videos allows this experience to truly grow!

 

For more tips and tricks that can help you plan an outing, head over to our 'Get Outdoors' page! Leave a comment with tips if you've passed the rookie phase OR with questions if you're still unsure about something!

A group of (mostly) rookie hikers in Scottsdale, AZ, getting ready to hike Camelback Mountain!

A group of (mostly) rookie hikers in Scottsdale, AZ, getting ready to hike Camelback Mountain!