Image by Clay Banks

Hiking for Beginners

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Whether you are a novice day hiker, or an experienced Trekker, giving some thought to where you are going and how you're going to get there can go a long way to ensure you have a wonderful, safe experience outdoors.

A little planning and preparation before your hike will help you avoid many of the obvious pitfalls that can make you vulnerable to the elements in nature. Planning ahead can also help you enjoy all that being in nature can offer... and there is a lot out there in nature that is beautiful, refreshing, and relaxing. Here are some suggestions you can follow to make your trip fun, satisfying and memorable.

Decide if you will be hiking alone or with other people. Solo hiking can be an adventure and a serene and peaceful experience. You don't have to speak to or focus on anything or anyone but you. The feeling you get when it's just you and nature is really unlike anything else. Whether you give in to it or not, you gotta admit, when we are all alone out in the wilderness, we all have the temptation to yell at the top of our lungs, FREEDOM!! If you are more of an introvert and do not necessarily need to be around other people and conversation, take that into consideration before you start planning and spending money and time. If you are like me, solo hiking is preferable, but I also like being with friends as long as they are sort of introverted like me!

Manage your risks. Hiking alone can be great, but it is not without its risks. Obviously, sustaining a serious injury alone can be perilous, but there are plenty of other risks that should be considered before far before you have to deal with a broken leg when you're all alone. Getting completely lost can also present some big problems. REI experts even go so far as to suggest those who might have legitimate reasons for apprehension, like hikers who identify as BIPOC, not being comfortable in nature, someone who has a disability might have to plan a little differently than others. As an African-American hiker, I can say I've experienced several different types of reactions of people seeing me in a place they have not usually seen people of my hue. While most of my experiences have been pleasant, some hikers were not exactly warm and welcoming.

Make a plan and stick to it. Making a hiking plan starts with an Itinerary. I know, is all that really necessary? Yes, it is because if you get into trouble, your itinerary will save your butt if you did it right. Your hiking Itinerary should include things like where you are going, and the time you intend to leave and return, There should always be at least one person you call when you finish your trip. Depending upon the length of the trip, you might want to establish checkpoints where you (if possible) contact someone to let them know you're okay. Lastly, share your entire Itinerary with someone you trust. Find more tips for solo backpacking from REI Here:

Pack for the unexpected and for "what probably wont happen".

You will need a first-aid kit, a compass, GPS, a cell phone, and bright beeping light that someone can see from a distance. These are all things that you probably won't need unless you get into an unexpected situation. Nevertheless, they can actually save your life if the situation calls for their use.

Me holding my arms up victory sign.
One of my first hikes - up Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, WA


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