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Hiking: A Guide for Beginners


Before you wander into the great outdoors, read this guide!

We don't want you getting lost in the woods, so let's ensure you feel comfortable and confident trail blazing! (Yep - you've already learned your first hiking lingo)


1. Find a hiking buddy for at least your first few hikes
Hiking alone gives you a sense of freedom, but it can be lonely and scary at times. It's also safer to hike with someone than alone in the event of an emergency.

  • Ask a friend who hikes to take you. Most hikers would be honored to share their expertise, give you tips, show you trails, and even let you borrow some of their hiking gear.

  • If you don't have any hiking friends, there are plenty of local hiking groups on Facebook and online forums. Great way to meet like-minded people!​

2. Where to find trails nearby

  • Talk​ to locals about great first-timer trails, they are bound to have some recommendations

  • All Trails is hands down the BEST app for finding trails nearby. Its very user friendly. You can pull up the map on the app and it will show you all of the hiking trails in your area. You can filter results too.

  • Before you step foot on a trail, ask yourself:

    • What is my fitness level?

    • What is the distance and elevation gain?

    • What do I need to prepare for with the current weather situation?

      • Easy trails - mostly flat ground, little elevation gain, short, well marked (good for beginner)

      • Moderate trails - ​​steady incline, elevation gain, well marked (reasonably fit)

      • Difficult trails - steep incline, significant elevation gain, possibly climbing over rock (very fit)

  • It is best to choose trails that are out and back or loop trails (ending where they started)


3. Hiking Gear - What to choose

  • Footwear - I recommend hiking shoes. See my footwear guide

  • Backpack - day pack or hydration pack. See my backpack guide 

    • You will also see a list of essential items to go inside your backpack​ in my guide

  • Water treatment supplies - chlorine dioxide tablets ​

    • These are just as a safety precaution in the event you run out of water and need to fill your water bottle with river water

  • You do not need camping gear... yet! But it's on your to-do list, right?!​​

day pack.jpg

4. What to wear - there is no "hiking uniform"

  • Base layer (for cooler weather) - wool/polyester undergarments (sports bra for ladies)

  • Hiking layer - nylon/polyester pants or shorts, and t-shirt or tank top

    • Ladies - your favorite stretchy leggings are perfect

  • Bring a light jacket if the weather is cool​ - you can always wrap it around your waist if it gets too hot

  • Pack an insulated puffy jacket in the event it gets very cold

  • Pack a lightweight rain jacket in the event it rains heavily

5. How much water do I need?

The basic rule of thumb is 1 liter of water per hour of moderate hiking

  • Most hydration packs hold 2.5 liters of water, so that would be plenty for a 2-3 hour hike. If using water bottles, it would look like two 16oz. water bottles per hour.

  • Less if the hike is easy and more if the hike is strenuous. Be sure to keep hydrated, but no need to force yourself to drink excessive amounts of water. Listen to your body.


6. Food and Snacks

  • Salty, sweet, and savory - bring it on! Nuts, fruit, beef jerky, and chocolate are all great contenders

  • My personal favorite is a peanut butter & banana sandwich, kettle chips, an apple, and chocolate to eat at the peak of the hike

  • For longer hikes, don't forget to bring electrolyte tablets or packets to put in your water

Chocolate Truffles

7. Trail Etiquette - RIGHT of way

Following trail etiquette will help everyone respect each other

  • Hikers going uphill have the right of way. You may see an uphill hiker stop to take a breather and allow a downhill hiker to pass. That is fine, but keep in mind it is up to the uphill hiker to make that decision.

  • Mountain bikers are expected to yield to hikers. However, since they are usually going so fast, it's easy for a hiker to just step out of the way. Be on the lookout if you are on a trail that is frequented by bikers.

  • Horses get the right of way. This isn't too common to see, but if you are on a trail that shares equestrian, step off of the trail and give the horses ample space to pass you.

  • Leave nothing behind but your footsteps! Take your trash and ensure you have all of your belongings.

8. Recovery

After your first few hikes, and even after your 100th hike, you will feel exhausted and maybe even sore due to using your muscles in a different way. This is totally normal. Take some time to rest, take a warm shower, and get the best nights sleep of your life!

  • My personal favorite way to end a day of hiking is to grab a craft beer, some pizza, and relax (ah, bliss!)

Live Wild and Wander.jpg

I hope you enjoyed this comprehensive guide for beginner hikers. You are one step closer to achieving your hiking goals and experiencing the great outdoors. Nature has so much to offer, and the sound of bustling trees, running creeks, and chirping birds just does something good for your mind, body, and soul. I'm pumped that you are ready to begin hiking! Please reach out if you have any questions for want to chat about hiking - I'd love to hear from you!


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