Hiking for Beginners: How You Can Get Started Today!

by Manidoo | Last Updated: March 23, 2021

Hiking is one of the best low-impact exercises that almost anyone can do. Nothing beats a comfortable walk outdoors to immerse yourself with nature. If you’re new to hiking, you might be overwhelmed on how to get started. Below is a guide on hiking for beginners to get you on the trail.

Finding Hiking Trails Near You

Looking for a trail nearby? Luckily for you, there are plenty of nearby options to fit any skill level. The best resources include local hiking guidebooks or checking in with park staff.

There’s also a community-run website called, The Hiking Project. This website is community run. You can find the best trails nearby from fellow hiking enthusiasts!

If you never hiked before I suggest picking a hiking trail light and local. When it comes to hiking for beginners, 1 mile is usually 20-30 minutes of walking. Start off small by exploring a mostly paved 2-3 mile trail with low elevation.

Be aware of changing trail conditions based on weather and time of day. A hike around the lake can be a fantastic choice. But, remember some trails may get closed off if it’s too icy or flooded.

How to Find Hiking Partners

Nothing says a fun social outing like a stroll in the woods! If you have any hiking friends ask them if you can join on one of their treks. Many hikers are more than accommodating to show you the ropes and supply you with any needed gear.

If you can’t find any hiking friends, you can always bring along a friend who will love to take a walk in the outdoors. When picking a friend, be sure to pick someone who you can keep a conversation going with during your hiking. It can not only keep things from getting boring. But, it’s found that making vocal noises helps drive off any unwanted predators.

None of these options work for you? You can also join a local hiking group or take part in a hiking event to meet hikers varying in fitness levels.

If you choose to hike alone, be sure you take the proper precautions to make your trek as safe as possible. Never go off the designated trail, and always let others know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Hiking Gear – Packing for a Hike

The best part about hiking is that it doesn’t need much to get involved. Your most important items should include the 10 Essentials:

Extra food, extra water, sun protection, first aid, navigational tools, emergency shelter, extra clothes, illumination, repairs, and fire kit items.

More specific items are dependent on what level of difficulty your hike will be. For a recommended breakdown, read the Hiking Trail Difficulty Rating System.

Hiking Etiquette

No matter your experience, remember to follow these rules for every hike:

Leave No Trace

There’s an old saying for Leave No Trace,

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.

Most of us don’t intend to harm the outdoors’s natural beauty, but it can be easy to forget it’s fragility. Whenever your outside, remember to follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace:

Respect Your Fellow Hikers

Remember the outdoors isn’t your house, there are other hikers out there to enjoy nature. When taking photos, be mindful of not taking up a spot too long for others who wish to do the same.

Be sure to keep the music off or wear headphones out on your hike. While some may find it wonderful to listen to the Top 40 hits, most hikers are there to escape into nature. Remember, it’s not just your hike when you’re on the path. The trail is for everyone.

The Hiker’s Right Away

You’re likely to see a lot of different trail goers out there. Like driving, there is a simple right away to abide by:

Hiker vs Hiker – Any hiker going uphill has the right away. If you wish to pass a hiker in front of you, remember to call out which side of them you are going to pass them on.

Hiker vs Biker – Hikers have the right away when it comes to mountain bikers. Be aware that many mountain bikers going downhill on a trail may not notice hikers sharing the trail. There are usually designated lanes separate for bikers and hikers. However, if you see a bike coming down fast on the trail, it’s best to just step aside.

Hiker vs Horse – Horses have the right away. Be sure when you let horses pass you, you step off the trail on the downhill side to allow enough spacing.

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